Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prince of Shingles

I opened my latest copy of Wallpaper* Magazine (which has returned to form thank god) and was beyond taken by the article on the home American architect Bart Prince has designed for Joe and Etsuko Price in Southern California.

With its cathedral-like use of wood and penchant for shingles and shag covered walls, at first glance, it reads like a den for playboys and porn kings, but it is its hefty dose of intellect that truly saves its soul.

He works out of Albuquerque, New Mexico and he has a concise way of discussing his work:

When I say that the design ‘responds’ to the site, client, climate, materials etc. and that the design ‘grows’ from this situation, it doesn’t mean these things ‘happen’ by themselves. It’s the mind of the architect that brings these ideas together and synthesizes everything into a final scheme. It’s a very complex process and far from ‘winging it’! In fact it is a much more difficult process that the standard so-called design process used by many. You are dealing with materials, structure, ideas, space while solving complex design programs presented by the client. It takes years of experience to make this process look easy!

He has also described his houses as “butterflies alighting in the landscape — as much a part of nature as trees and rocks, but soaring free of conventional restraints and familiar forms”. In his hands wood, glass and stone are no longer inanimate building materials, but take on a life of their own.

What I love about his work is it completely nails that nexus between good and bad taste that we all crave. Anyone who is constantly searching to be jolted by a new style, will absolutely ‘get’ these homes. In some ways it is no major surprise Prince is hot right now, because as the earth’s environmental safety slips conceptually out of our grip, we are turning to all things “natural” as some kind of comforting symbol of the need to redeem or hopefully, save, ourselves.

I want to live in an Armadillo.

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