I'm always leafing through design media, paper and online, and with some projects, I'm instantly drawn to the genius of the design. You know, when everything is just spot on, where every detail supports the overall vision or directive.
I believe these types of projects deserve a second look. They deserve to be studied and appreciated more intensely, because -- really -- they're few and far between.
As a designer, I appreciate the degree of deep collaboration -- between all parties involved -- that it takes to produce such an ambitious project. It can be a tedious, tumultuous task for a group of professionals -- to follow the same vision -- to actually complete one to near-perfection. It's this incredible creative synergy that makes these types of projects so remarkable to me.
Today, On Analyzed & Admired...
Please take note of the professionals mentioned in the credits to the right. Collectively, they put together a remarkable design for a project that was featured in the June 2012 issue of Architectural Digest. Today I'll explain why it deserves to be Analyzed & Admired...
NOTE: I encourage you to buy this issue or visit Architectural Digest's website to read the complete, in-depth article.
- Architectural Digest Credits: Text by Therese Bissell I Photography by Roger Davies I Produced by Robert Rufino
- Architect: Grant Camden Kirkpatrick of KAA Design
- Designers: Alexandra and Michael Misczynski, husband and wife principals of interiors firm, Atelier AM
- Homeowners: Delise and Blake Sartini
A Rustic, Laguna Beach Retreat, Analyzed & Admired
When You're Here, You Know Where You're At
The materials used in this project are key here. I think the selection of a warm limestone for the house is perfect. It was finished with a wash to get a consistency of color and tone, and it's that horizontal roughness that serves as a nod to the cliffs beyond. The importance of place is noted. Nature has been controlled for human living.
Notice the horizontal lines everywhere in these spaces. Consistency of design elements builds a design and strengthens it. The coffee table, the wood framed chairs, the stonework, the opening to the kitchen with the beam, the ceiling...their linear qualities draw your eye out to the real reason why we’re here: the view.
A Piece of Art
More limestone here. If it had been varied at all in size or coloration, it would have distracted your eye.
I love the light fixture, horizontal lines of course. And don’t you think it’s reminiscent of some fencing from the beach? Something washed up or maybe a fishing basket? That’s creating a strong sense of place.
The absolute over-the-top indulgence is the floor. It's totally not necessary (a plain tiled floor would’ve been sufficient), but -- in my book -- this one detail elevates this space to a piece of art. It was created by artist, Xavier Llongueras, but it doesn’t scream at you, does it? It’s so subtle, like the quality and artistic expression of a perfectly tailored Chanel jacket compared to a knock-off.
I love how there is intricate design and then larger scale. That larger scale repeats the texture of the limestone and it all just says "beach sand" to me. Again, it’s establishing a relationship to its surroundings, its place, here by the sea. It’s these perfect details that elevate this room to another level. It's thoughtful, timeless, contextual.
Is this a kitchen I would want in my home? No. However, I can still appreciate the qualities of design here.
In the AD interview, the designers said they wanted to “reduce the number of materials so that your eye quickly gets used to what it is seeing."
(And yes...I totally see what they mean.)
This is an uncomplicated design: a two tone kitchen, divided up in a visually pleasing way. The warmth of the wood with its vertical grain, in contrast to the horizontal nature of everything else in the house, is a perfect foil.
What stands out here? The beautiful wood, set off by a marriage of light materials, countertop, stone, plaster finish, floor. Had all those elements not been combined as a single visual element with color and value, the beauty of the wood would have been lost.
Design genius? Oh, yes.
Why We're Here
How I wish I could take a look at a floor plan of this house, so I could see where this room is located.
Because of the light reflected in the mirrors, I can only imagine that across from this dark wall are windows to the ocean.
I love the stone combined with the dark wall and sofa that blends with it. It’s like it disappears into oblivion, because it isn’t about the sofa, or the dark wall, or the fabrics, or even the mirrors, is it?
What is it about this house that the designers have kept as their mantra from the beginning?
The view. The ocean. That’s why we’re here.
And There It Is... The View
This balcony features a low, horizontal banquette in a fabric that blends with the substrate and the floor and the table.
They haven’t let anything take away from that view - not even the artistic, inlaid floor. And who would’ve noticed it? With the sea at a distance, your attention has no competition. The point of highest contrast will always draw your eye first.
Tree against ocean - that's it. And that’s why we’re here.
And you know this was purposeful.
And I LOVE purposeful design.
A Touch Of History
Here, there's a touch of historical architecture. Once again, the limestone is repeated.
And look at the hint of mosaic on the floor. Any additional detail would have fought with the surround.
The large, plain, simple, but organic floor is also a real success here.
Design For The Senses
It’s always good to repeat materials and concepts. And here we have more stone at the fireplace.
What's the most striking design element in this room? The contrasting color/material on the window. It beckons us to look beyond, reminding us why we’re here. Do you even notice anything else? Don’t you want to walk over and push on the frame and lean out to soak in the beauty and smell of the ocean? I do...
Again, repetition of materials is featured in the master bath: limestone, artistic floor (I love the asymmetry), vertical grained warm wood tone...
It's all subtle in comparison to the ocean.
The fish hanging from the ceiling in the pool bath (see right image) adds a great touch of whimsy and there’s great texture repeating in the limestone, plaster, wood ceiling and then the coarse baskets.
I love this view looking down to the ocean. Can’t you imagine what it would’ve been like for the architect when he looked down upon this view on his first visit? He must have been thrilled, as he imagined all that he would do.
But do you want to know what I love most about the scene created here? I love the fact that the furnishings blend with the finishes of the floors and walls. There’s no contrast there to distract your eye. It all blends with the sand on the beach.
The only contrast - the plant material hugging the wall just above the stone ledge, with its gorgeous, rich color, just like moss growing on the cliffs beyond. It provides more sense of place.
I’m just smitten with this project. There’s so much to learn here: restraint, focus, the importance of repetition, and keeping your eye on the vision.
This project surpassed all its goals, I'm sure. What an achievement for the architect, designer and homeowner. They’ve all created a piece of art and left a bit of their souls here on this planet to last for generations to come...