October 13, 2011
Stonorov Workshop is a design and building collaborative between husband and wife team Tolya and Otto Stonorov. I first came across their work on the pages of Dwell magazine. They had renovated a 100-year old, 400 square foot shack in Oakland, California (above). It was 2006 and they had both just left their jobs at small architectural firms to go out on their own. When I contacted them to see if I could revisit the house for Lifework I found they had moved to Alaska and embarked on a whole new building project. Here they discuss the move, designing a live/work space and how they established their studio.
You established the Stonorov Workshop in 2006. What led you and your husband Otto to that point? Going back a long ways, we both grew up around the same, Philadeplphia-based, family architectural heritage: our respective grandfathers worked on large social planning and design issues together; and our parents, independently, work(ed) in the fields of development and building. We met when we were 3 and 4, narrowly missed each other for a little over 20 years, and re-met again a year prior to attending graduate school together.
October 6, 2011
Mark Jensen is the principal of San Francisco-based architecture firm whose work includes projects like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s award-winning rooftop sculpture garden (above) to lovingly detailed hillside homes. Here we take a tour of his homes and learn more about a shift in the way we work that informs his residential designs.
Above: Mark Jensesn at work. Photo: Jensen Architects
You are the principal architect of an 18-person firm that was established in 1990. Can you tell us about what drew you to architecture? Two things: first, my German grandfather hand-crafted a collection of solid maple building blocks for his grandson (thankfully, he didn’t have the tools in his garage-shop to make “blobs”). Second, my high school geometry teacher (a “recovering” architect himself) took one look at my hyper-organized class binder and said to me: “Mark, you are going to be an architect.”
Above: The Kokoris residence. Photos: Cesar Rubio.
August 1, 2011
Los Angeles architects Silvia Kuhle and Jeffrey Allsbrook of Standard share their east-side home, tracing the design aesthetic back to their shared German roots.
Your design studio – Standard – is based in Los Angeles and in your work your European roots seemed to have merged with a particularly modern Californian aesthetic giving both a warmth and a rigor that is really striking. Can you give us a bit of background – you both studied architecture in Germany. How do you think that has influenced your work in California? We met in Germany, and while we went to different schools there, it was like an intersection in our studies. We both went to architecture school in the US as well, but on opposite coasts. In American schools the emphasis is on process and forms but in Germany the modernist project continues to be an influence; our work reflects some of that idealism. When we started to work together in Los Angeles, the dominant trend was to create new form. We were more interested in creating space, and in LA’s modern history. Early in our practice, we had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects that were interiors combined with landscapes, so we designed from the inside out. We worked with materials, openings in walls, views, and light; and less with the outward appearance of the building.
Your own home, aptly dubbed “The Tree House” is perched on a steep hill on the east side of Los Angeles. How did that site influence your design? We had lived on the site for about seven years before we started the project, so we understood the site well and we knew how we wanted to live there.
Under the tree there is a microclimate that’s usually about 10 degrees cooler than down at the street.
We wanted the house to be under the tree’s canopy, and to create the living space there. The south orientation and expansive views led us to open the house up on that side, and to keep the back more solid.
The material palette is very restrained – concrete, redwood and white cabinetry with marble in the bathrooms. How do you go about making those choices? We wanted to balance the materials and create contrast. In the main living space we defined the perimeter with white walls and cabinets, so the wood in the center of the room looks more like built-in furniture. It is a small house and the approach to materials and the glass help make it feel more expansive.
The home includes a desk/work area in the master bedroom. Do you find your work life spills over into your home life? Our work spills into our home life probably a little too much, and thankfully, this desk is rarely used for work.
Currently our office is very close to the house, so we try not to bring work home.
What inspires you in your work? Silvia: New York, aged finishes, vast (higher altitude) landscapes, Rick Owen’s fashion, Edith Heath’s ceramics (below).
Le Courbusier’s concrete (and glass) architecture, Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima’s material-less seeming architecture (below Sejima’s New Museum in New York City. Image via StarMedia).
Jeff: Furniture design: Charlotte Perriand, Joe Colombo, Jean Royere. Automotive design: Alfa Sprint Speciale, classic Bertone designs. The architecture of Jose Antonio Coderch (below Coderch’s Casa Ulgade, Barcelona 1953) , Mies van der Rohe’s early work.
Photos: Shots of Silvia and Jeff’s home by Benny Chan/fotoworks.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 23, 2010
Where we’ve been this week…
1. Grist An interesting take on environmental news. Where to start: Tips on dealing with the summer heat when you work from home.
2. Color Collective You’ve got to love a simple idea that’s been beautifully executed. Here Portland-based artist Lauren Willhite takes photographs and art as inspiration and breaks each image down into 5 essential colors. Where to start: Go straight to the interiors category for some home office inspiration.
3. Ill Seen, Ill Said Jane Flanagan is an Irish woman living in Toronto with a wonderful eye for design and a very nice turn of phrase. Where to start: The post on following your heart when it comes to designing your home..
4. Mid Century Modernist A recent redesign has improved this site beyond belief. If you have even the faintest interest in mid century design head straight to this site – immediately! Where to start: Our very own Lifework contributor (and editor of Grain Edit) Dave Cuzner’s house tour.
5. Houzz An excellent picture-driven architecture site filled to the brim with interesting houses. Where to start: Type home office into the search box and you’ll find yourself wading through over 4000 images of compelling spaces.
February 26, 2010
Portland, Oregon is host to some very interesting residential architecture and on April 17 a modern house tour, aptly named Street of Eames, will highlight some of the best. All the money raised goes to after school programs for homeless children at two Portland schools. It was the demise of one of these programs in 2005 that spurred the first tour on. Last year’s tour raised $123,000. And this year’s tour is set to be just as successful with more than 8 stops including Path Architecture (above) and Robert Rummer’s 1969 residence (below).