Style: Connection or Constraint


Our builder/architect/designer community gathered on March 27 for the third B/A/D Talks. It was a friendly, relaxed gathering exploring fresh, inspiring ideas around the evening's topic of Style: Connection or Constraint.

 

Kyle Hoepner

Kyle Hoepner

Kyle Hoepner, editor-in-chief of New England Home, once again displayed his super talent as moderator, engaging both audience and panelists throughout the discussion.

The speakers' last minute review of the talk before presentation.

The speakers' last minute review of the talk before presentation.

We want to share with you ideas given in this evening's talk. It's just a sampling of the generosity of our speakers as they offer their knowledge and their experience and their passion for their work.

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MODERN

"...if [clients] want a high performance house in terms of function and design they tend towards the modern house., which is the great objective."

TRADITIONAL

"On the other hand if they value creating a stronger connection to their community in terms of cultural and social connection they tend to go traditional."

HYBRID (eclectic/transitional)

"These things are very important. They're not mutually exclusive. And most of our clients want a combination of both of those things. That results in hybrid architecture...So hybrid houses arise from a strong respect for cultural and historic continuity coupled with objectives that lie well beyond the limits set by tradition. They're innovative but they're comfortable and familiar, while pushing the technical and cultural envelope.

"But very importantly a hybrid is not an ad hoc combination of traditional and modern. It's a synthesis of highly successful and valued design elements. They're expressions of continuity in concert with evolution."

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ENJOYMENT IN ECLECTIC

"We talked about words and 'transitional' kept coming up. We never actually use that word in our office...We use 'eclectic.' And that's kind of what we do - we like to mix periods, styles, origins. Our 'transitional' work is some of our best work. And I think that's probably what we find the most enjoyment in."

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Kris Horiuchi, landscape architect / Horiuchi Solien, Inc.

Kris Horiuchi, landscape architect / Horiuchi Solien, Inc.

GRANDMOTHER'S WHITE PEONIES

"So I think in our work...It's about wrapping you into a story that engages your spirit and tugs at your memory. It's about the birthday parties and the quiet moments that we share. And in the end style I  think is less about what is traditional and modern and more about your grandmother's white peonies."

WHEN STYLE BECOMES CONSTRAINED

"I think there's a difference in style and individuality - the notion that 'style' is something that's familiar but not formulaic. I think that when it becomes that, that's when we get trapped, that's when we get constrained, that's when the individuality that you're talking about, you know is lost. And I think when you loose that connection, you know, either it's not very fulfilling for us intellectually as designers - and certainly I think our clients are not as engaged, their not participating as much, they don't hold and cherish these things as much."

FOUR THEMES

Kris transcends the constraints of style with attentiveness to her client's stories and by exploring four themes, which she brought alive for us in her talk:

  • Nature and Materials
  • Culture and History
  • Craft
  • Movement

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THE STYLE OF OUR TIME

"Given that all three of you [Marcus, Jim, and Kris] have said here tonight that you prefer working when possible in either a transitional or - kind of how ever you want to put it - sort of an eclectic style - I would suggest just from what we've done at the magazine [New England Homethat that kind of eclecticism and this kind of interpenetration of all these different eras and geographic influences and everything may end up being one of the defining stylistic characteristics of our time when people look back on it."

l to r: B/A/D Talks speakers Kyle Hoepner, Kris Horiuchi, Jim Gauthier, and Marcus Gleysteen.

l to r: B/A/D Talks speakers Kyle Hoepner, Kris Horiuchi, Jim Gauthier, and Marcus Gleysteen.

And a few more thoughts from our great panelists...

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Marcus Gleysteen

SIX DESIGN PRINCIPLES

"...pay attention to six things, and they're not original to me, and these aren't in any particular order:"

  • Observing and responding to environment
  • Observing and responding to culture and context: who we are, who are our clients
  • Using materials responsibly (that's sort of a new one)
  • Pursuing excellence in execution
  • Excellence in function
  • Most importantly: Pursuing beauty and delight. I feel very strongly if you do that style is irrelevant because you're going to end up where you need to be.

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Jim Gauthier

SCALE / FUNCTION / BEAUTY

"I can only add scale to that. Constant thing we're thinking about is scale, but otherwise I think what Marcus said is constant in design work. Those elements have to be there. Function: huge. Function has to come first...The beauty of something to us - it's adding that unexpected thing, it's making you smile or making you just have a good feeling. It's about creating something that's lasting and timeless and that kind of transcends any sort of 'trend.' We don't use the word 'trend.' We don't use the word 'trend' in our office hardly, if ever, because we don't do trendy work.

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Marcus Gleysteen

STYLE, CONSTRAINT, AND THE UNIVERSE

"The [title] of this conversation was "Style: Connection or Constraint." Style becomes a constraint when it prevents you from taking full advantage of all the opportunites that surround you...I've mentioned before about client's wanting 10 foot by 10 foot lift and slide [windows and doors] that open up to the universe where they can commune with nature flawlessly. That to me is taking advantage of technology."

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Jim Gauthier

STYLE TREND: TAKING CARE OF THE EARTH

"They're going to look back at us a hundred years from now and say, 'Oh, this is when they really started to think about taking care of the earth and doing things more sustainable, and thinking green.' That's to me the trend that we're experiencing now the strongest. It's not about a color, a fabric, a material; it's about the whole concept. Style just goes right along with that, and I agree with Marcus that we just kind of use that and it's a great stepping stone to help us get to better environments that we're all living in."

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Kris Horiuchi

INTUITIVE ETHICS

"I think as a landscape architect - the nature of what we do - there's an ethic. And sustainability and thinking about being wise - that's just a part of what we do intuitively. I agree with you [fellow panelists] there's always the introduction of elements, of new things, and again I like to step back and say, 'Is it purposeful? How do we use this? How do we craft it well?' All the things that go into how the other people of the past approached technology or new things, we try to do now. Hopefully they're not aberrations, but yet they're woven into our work seamlessly."

Good food, good drink, good company at B/A/D Talks.

Good food, good drink, good company at B/A/D Talks.

You can watch the video of this talk at www.badtalks.com. Event photos by Anastasia Sierra.

B/A/D Talks and Boston Design Week


The upcoming B/A/D Talks will not only be welcoming our builder/architect/design community; but also this event opens its doors to the public as a part of the inaugural Boston Design Week.

TOPIC: STYLE

Style: Connection or Constraint. Style can be the thread that knits together aesthetic elements into an integrated composition. It can also be a tether that limits discovery and thwarts personal expression. Find out how style can both guide and constrain the design process when three design professionals address this topic on March 27. To learn more about this B/A/D Talks or to rsvp, go to: www.badtalks.com.

Collage 2
Collage 2

Hope to see you there!

Narrative Architecture: a B/A/D Talks presentation


The "shop talk" at the latest B/A/D Talks was full of inspiring, visually engaging ideas shared by talented speakers who are well regarded in our Builders/Architects/Designers Community.

Entry to B/A/D Talks at 342 Club in Boston Design Center

Entry to B/A/D Talks at 342 Club in Boston Design Center

TOPIC: Narrative Architecture, exploring how narrative helps determine the design, experience, and interpretations of the built environment, was the rich topic at this B/A/D Talks event.

l to r: Kyle Hoepner, Mark Hutker, Brian Vanden Brink, and Bruce Snider

l to r: Kyle Hoepner, Mark Hutker, Brian Vanden Brink, and Bruce Snider

SPEAKERS: Our three panelists each offered their perspectives as an architect, a writer, and a photographer in the field of residential architecture:

Mark Hutker, Hutker Architects; Brian Vanden Brink, Architectural Photographer; Bruce Snider, Contributing Editor, Custom Home and Residential Architect magazines

Our moderator, who so brilliantly guided the conversation was Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief, New England Home.

Kyle's smile indicates a good story by Mark.

Kyle's smile indicates a good story by Mark.

l to r: Kyle, Mark, Brian and Bruce - a great group of presenters!

l to r: Kyle, Mark, Brian and Bruce - a great group of presenters!

EXCERPTS: The captured excerpts below give you a glimpse of what the conversation offered as we traveled through four quite different homes that employed elements of narrative architecture, including time, history, light, nature, landscape, craftsmanship, stewardship, community, process, dreams, emotions, and family.

Mark Hutker preparing for B/A/D Talks.

Mark Hutker preparing for B/A/D Talks.

MARK HUTKER: ideas from the architect

THE DIARY

"Tell me about your perfect day in your house. Write a diary. Write a diary about the best summer day in your new home, the best winter day, the best day when it rains. What happens with your kids that day? ...What happens? What goes on? So we started asking for these diaries. It's amazing the information you get.

"So what I'm going to do here is experiment with this. I've never done this; hope it works - but I'm going to read one of these diaries and you're going to witness slide by slide the result of the design process and construction. And we'll see what happens." -Mark, "a diary house" designed by Hutker Architects

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

"We go out on this site, we collected shells, sand, we took pictures, brought bark from trees back and the driftwood. And we told them [the clients] these are the materials, textures, ambiance of the natural environment, and if you want to relate to a place, don't you really relate to the things that don't change over time? That resonated with them."  -Mark, "Duin Huis" designed by Hutker Architects

THE REAL SAUCE

"Often I see the first reaction is to go to Houzz and just start picking all the stuff they want and then they've got the house designed in their mind when they come to you. Well that's all the commodity stuff, but where's the real stuff, the stuff that puts it together - like how you want to live. And that's where the real sauce is: in how you want to live and the interactions that you want to foster in your home." -Mark Hutker

PAY BACK

"I think that when you make decisions about building well and use fine craftsmanship and tune the house to the environment it's a part of - in a very careful and stewardship driven way - that there is community value, meaning beyond just that owner, that I think will pay back over time." -Mark Hutker

Brian Vanden Brink being fitted with mic.

Brian Vanden Brink being fitted with mic.

BRIAN VANDEN BRINK: ideas from the photographer

(note: Just one succinct quote here from Brian's talk. His beautiful architectural photographs of the four homes shown throughout this presentation spoke to us beyond words.)

LISTENING

"I've photographed houses that I hate and they end up shooting like a million bucks and they get published ten times. I don't understand that. But I think that the best work always comes from being respectful of your clients, listening rather than speaking, speaking carefully when it's appropriate, and working together, using your own dynamic creativity to bring to the equation. But it starts with listening and being respectful." -Brian Vanden Brink

Bruce snider at B/A/D Talks

Bruce snider at B/A/D Talks

BRUCE SNIDER: ideas from the editor

IF THERE'S A GREAT HOUSE, THERE'S A GREAT STORY

"When you land on a project that you know is going to be great to publish inevitably there's something great behind it. There's never been a case for me when I got into the project and I found that there was some clunker in it somewhere, like, the builder wasn't completely up to snuff, the architect and the client couldn't quite get along, there was a lawsuit. When it really sings at the end that means everything was right all the way through. It's not like there can't be friction at some point in the process, but when you get this outcome it's not in spite of the process it's because [of it] and the people involved.

"If I present a project to an editor and she or he says, 'Well what's the story behind it?' I don't even care. There's going to be a story behind it; because if there's a great house, there's a great story." -Bruce Snider

EMOTION

"I think function is an issue there but emotion is just as important. If you are demonstrating something with your house that's not genuine then I think that is an enemy of being able to invest emotion in the house. Then it becomes some sort of a billboard for your self image. And that's not the recipe for a great house or a great life in your house." -Bruce Snider

KICK START

"...when you have the privilege of building a house for yourself, the experience of designing it and building it becomes part of the history and if you're working with great people than that becomes a great experience so the history of the house gets kick-started in that way." -Bruce Snider

Kyle Hoepner, B/A/D Talks moderator.

Kyle Hoepner, B/A/D Talks moderator.

KYLE HOEPNER: ideas from the moderator

"We've been talking a lot about narrative in the history of the house; narrative for the creation of new houses. Another important aspect is - and that's one of the reasons we have a photographer and a magazine editor here - the narrative also continues to function in how that house is presented to the world and how everyone else in the world thinks about that house and about custom building, architecture, and design generally. Because each of these projects done for individual clients becomes part of the world conversation on how should houses be, and what do we want the to do, and what they look like." -Kyle Hoepner

B/A/D Talks audience

B/A/D Talks audience

Event Photos by Amanda Novocin Photography

Narrative Architecture: the human element


Narrative Architecture was the topic of engaging conversation at the B/A/D Talks (Builders/Architects/Designers) community event last week. Photos and story to come!

Narrative Architecture is a concept that inspires us. We came across the following definition that we think offers a glimpse of the enduring, engaging qualities offered by narrative architecture:

"In architecture, narrative prioritizes human experiences and the need to shape them into stories. It places the emphasis on a building's meaning. [...]Rather than reducing architecture to a mere style or an overt emphasis on technology, it foregrounds how buildings are experienced." -excerpt from the book Narrative Architecture by Nigel Coates.

We think the home shown above is a notable example of narrative architecture. Photo: Michael J. Lee / Architect: Ruth Bennett, RBA Architecture / Designer: Susan B. Acton. Link to New England Home Magazine's story: His, Hers and Theirs.

Narrative Architecture: B/A/D Talks


The second B/A/D Talks event for Builders/Architects/Designers of residential projects is around the corner.

NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE will be the topic of the upcoming B/A/D Talks. It will offer a conversation exploring how narrative helps determine the design, experience, and interpretation of the built environment.

PANELIST + MODERATOR

Mark Hutker, AIA
Mark Hutker, AIA

Mark Hutker, Hutker Architects, suggested our current topic and we thought to bring it three points of view:

Mark Hutker will be joined by Bruce Snider, Contributing Editor, Custom Homeand Residential ArchitectBrian Vanden Brink, Architectural Photographer.

And once again our B/A/D Talks Moderator is Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief, New England Home.

TIME + PLACE

If you're a part of the B/A/D community, we hope you'll join the conversation on Thursday, 01/23/14, 5:30PM to 8PM, at Boston Design Center's 342 Club. Email linda@badtalks.com to rsvp.

What is B/A/D TALKS?

B/A/D Talks is a community effort co-produced by John Kilfoyle, United Marble Fabricators, along with Paul Reidt and Linda Kochman of KR+H. As Paul describes it:

"Everyone in the B/A/D community works at the intersection of invention and industry. We travel daily between the abstract and the concrete; we dream things up, and get them done; our work contributes to both the preservation and creation of the built environment. Our imaginations and our hands are kept busy. This is the remarkable skill set of our community. B/A/D Talks hopes to open us to this resource of accumulated knowledge and enrich it with exchange through conversation." - KR+H's Paul Reidt

Something to Talk About: a year in review


As I began to contemplate the subject of this post, as we come upon the year's end, lyrics from a Bonnie Raitt song popped into mind, seemingly out of nowhere..."Let's give them something to talk about...how about love, love, love." Great lyrics...and what do they have to do with this post?

Well, as we enter a time that promotes peace and good will (hopefully), I'd have to say there's a wonderful spirit here at KR+H that's been cultivated over the years and seems to grow steadily.

Maureen Simoes, KR+H's wonderful office manager

Maureen Simoes, KR+H's wonderful office manager

While our office manager, Maureen, keeps us all together efficiently and with one big unconditional hug, KR+H's group of talented people earnestly and enthusiastically engage in their work. We sometimes might be annoyed and have off days like everyone, but there is an overall atmosphere of caring about each other and a confidence about our work together. And this does seem to be a powerful equation for producing a heartfelt appreciation from people whose homes our design and craftsmanship enters.

Perhaps, too, a look back over this year's happenings support the lyrics "something to talk about."

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JANUARY was a great start with KR+H's Best of Boston 2013 award. Yay!

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In FEBRUARY, we talked with one of our wonderful customers and received inspiring and useful lessons on this passionate cook's careful and loving approach to the design and renovation of his small South End kitchen. See and Read more...

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In MARCH, three (3!!!) of Boston's home magazines published KR+H projects. As Paul Reidt's daughter Aliza says, "holy dog!" See and Read more...

March 2013 3 Magazines 3 KR+H Projects
March 2013 3 Magazines 3 KR+H Projects

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MAY showered us with two of our favorite events: The Newton Historic Annual House Tour, in which one of our favorite homeowners opened her door to show her family's loving restoration of their Victorian home that included a kitchen by KR+H. See and Read more... And another favorite event we love to support and attend was as great as ever: North Bennet Street School's Evening of Traditional Craft. See and Read more...

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Over the SUMMER, we brought KR+H to followers of Houzz and Pinterest. There's an element of delight in seeing our work displayed on these two sites and having people like or follow us.

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JULY produced a new and engaging book, Classic & Modern: Signature Style, that includes in its pages a home in which KR+H's custom cabinetry resides. This home has received national recognition for being a notable passive home. We love that it also reflects a sensitivity to the architecture and craftsmanship that sustains our every day lives. See and Read more...

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SEPTEMBER allowed our passion for our field of work to shine through in the first B/A/D Talks event that we co-produced with John Kilfoyle of United Marble Fabricators and Kyle Hoepner, editor-in-chief, New England Home. It's great to see the enthusiastic reception by our fellow colleagues who agree there is "something to talk about."See and Read more...

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In NOVEMBER we gave thanks to much, including a lovely article in New England Home magazine on another one of our favorite homes with a KR+H kitchen. This feature article was appropriately titled, "Storybook Ending." See and Read more...

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So it does feel like a year of something to talk about. And we would say it springs from our customers who bring us their talents and enthusiasm along with their great projects...and from the craftspeople at KR+H who are in love, love, love with the process of designing and making beautiful cabinetwork for people's homes.

Here's hoping the New Year brings all of us something to talkabout that enriches our lives and the lives of those around us.