Q&A with W+D
Who and what are your main design influences? We are influenced by mid-century modern residential architects and their work. Some of our major influences are Joseph Eichler, Gregory Ain, Rudolph Schindler and the great Richard Neutra.
What is your favorite space? We recently visited the Pantheon in Rome. This space offers a truly spiritual experience for those that are open to receive it. No matter how many times you study books and photos, nothing can prepare you for the procession through the portico and into the rotunda. Your eye is immediately drawn 142' vertically to the open sky through the famous oculus, leaving you speechless. This great engineering feat continues to be the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world after almost 2000 years of continuous use. This structure is living proof of the power of architectural and engineering collaboration.
What architect or designer do you most admire? Joseph Eichler. Although it would be easy to say Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Charles Rennie Mackintosh or Frank Lloyd Wright; we cannot. All of these great architects deserve to be in the conversation for what they meant to their era and for those that followed in their footsteps, but Joseph Eichler did more than build great monuments; he provided middle-class American families with affordable mid-century architecture. Most design professions understand the importance of the case study homes for their contributions to the mid-century modernism movement. We too embrace study and celebrate these homes. We also recognize that the theory behind these homes encompassed more than just the architecture. The case study program was designed to take the brightest most influential minds in architecture and create prototype housing for post-WW II families. Joseph Eichler was one architect and developer who not only understood the simplicity of mid-century design, but developed strategies on how to make this lifestyle available to all. He pursued the belief that you don't have to be wealthy to participate in and experience great space and architecture. Our office has a tremendous amount of respect for Joseph Eichler and his ability to deliver a message of great architecture for the masses.
What deceased architect or designer is most overrated? It is difficult for anyone to judge an artist for what he or she pursued as their life's work. We believe that architecture is an art form and is thus subjective. Our varying experiences shape our views and so we react positively to some things and negatively to others. We believe that there are lessons in all experiences and we strive to distill the meaning and intent from all things.
Who would you most like to design something for? We operate under the premise that a good space does not cost more than a bad space. We want to collaborate with and create space for clients who are open to new experiences and are excited about being inspired. Great space has the potential to inspire individuals to change the world.
What is your favorite city or town? Rome Italy. Rome presented architects and engineers the opportunity to dream. Rome today is not only rich with architectural monuments, but great beauty lies within the passion of her people who maintain the culture. We see strong similarities between Rome in her youth and present day Los Angeles. All roads may lead to Rome but many also lead to Los Angeles.
What building or structure do you most dislike? We are passionate about clarity of design and the opportunity each structure has to communicate with the user and community. It is difficult, disappointing and painful to see a structure that has no clear identity or security within its design and execution. The tectonic expression of our designs is a result of a process of structural integration within the design from conception onward.
What is the best moment of the day? Dawn and Dusk. No matter how difficult the day can be, there is always relative peace and quiet found during dawn and dusk. The natural light at these times is soothing and powerful and heightens the qualities of all that it illuminates.
What is your design philosophy? Simplicity is a key component of our practice, as are communication and collaboration. The process of creating space and structure involves the cooperation of many. We learn everyday and hope to inspire those that we collaborate with to greatness. The tectonic expression of our work is also critical. We believe that space and structure should communicate with those that experience it. The structure should express the construction method, sequence and function. Our designs are not mere decoration, but expressions of purpose and intent. The beauty in space and structure is found through the delicate balance of form through function.
What advice do you have for people interested in a career in design? Humility is critical to the success of the contemporary designer. We generate this humility in our practice through a love and passion for history. To understand where the arts have come from is our way of finding our individual voice. History and willingness to work hard is a path to success.