These architects came to Lifework via a salad. It was the fresh tuna in the Niçoise at Earl’s Gourmet Grub, a Los Angeles cafe, that first lured me in and then it was the incredible interior. The architects had not only mixed marble and plywood, they’d eschewed the standard white box interior for an undulating ceiling of plywood blades and a wall covered in what looked like a street grid carved magically into ply. It’s an impressive space. I tracked down the men responsible – David Freeland and Brennan Buck of FreelandBuck – and found out that their work setup was just as interesting as their designs.
David, you are based in Los Angeles and your business partner, Brennan Buck lives in New York. How does this bi-coastal set up work? Surprisingly it works very similar to a typical office. Brennan and I collaborate closely most projects and decisions in the office. With so many communication technologies available we’ve been able to maintain a very fluid collaboration. Video conferencing, the ability to share screens and watch each other sketch and draw has been especially useful. Locations on the east and west coast also put us in touch with many more people, merging different perspectives, environments, and atmospheres in our work.
There is a beautiful rich sense of patterning apparent in your architectural designs. I would go as far as to say that a hallmark of your work is this rich detailing that relies on digital technology. I wonder if this obvious comfort with technology enables you to work more fluidly between the two cities? An office grounded in paper sketches and balsa wood models perhaps wouldn’t flourish as well? Yes, I think this is very much the case. As the design process has migrated from analog to digital it has changed the way collaborations take place. It is no longer possible to collectively author a project just by sketching and drawing on the same piece of paper. For us that paper is the digital model that we alternately pass back and forth to develop options, editing and critiquing together.
Above: Stacked Mockup
While this is the primary medium of exchange, material tests, physical mockups, and of course construction is an important part of our work. This work is executed in a particular place and we use whatever means available to communicate the reality of these tactile experiments. In the end experience is not portable and given our interest in creating unique environments and atmospheres, we travel between coasts to evaluate the results of our more digital speculations.
When you work from home where and how do you work? Are there any tools you find essential when you work from home? To me the main benefit of working at home is that it is a quiet space away from the distractions of the office, less subject to unanticipated events and interruptions. Both of us have offices that we share with other architects but maintain workspace at home. This seems more comfortable to me, that work is continuous with lifestyle. Today work clings to us wherever we are in the city via our phones and laptops. What is more important is that we can choose the atmosphere most conducive to our state of mind and current preoccupation. Choosing between going to the office to work and staying home to work is a flexible pleasure.
Above: Maine Woodlot House
If you were to design a home office what would it look like? As much as the separation between home and office may provide a convenient separation between work and play, I think architecture can develop a more nuanced set of differences. We are just finishing an office addition (pictured below) for a client who operates his law practice from home. The challenge here was to create a space that was distinct from the rest of the house yet continuous with the overall identity. We developed a dynamic interior atmosphere different from any other space in the house, yet connected to the surrounded landscape and integrated with the form of the exterior. For us these distinctions are made primarily through light, color, and space; this is what creates identity. The ‘entourage’ that inevitably fill offices- books, computers, files, etc- is not as important to us as the walls, ceilings, and floors and the way they mediate the inside and outside.