custom made simple

Christensen SketchUPWe don’t often do circles, but when we do…….the final build outs are pretty much always exciting spaces that have an energetic feel and certainly some feeling of movement! Repetition is a good thing – it can create order, balance, visual interest, and in this case helps define a sense of space within an environment. Our example here is showing our design tested within a minimalist environment – I find black and white or monochrome is often a good way to determine the design aesthetic before finalizing material selections (they are always in mind, but it’s good to exercise restraint so preconceived ideas are kept in check.)

IMG_7932-WEBThe client presented us with a program indicating that the reception staff was the core of the business and requested we highlight the work area as a centralized hub in which all office functions revolved around. It was easy to immediately establish a “hub and spokes” design motif and run with it. The challenge was not getting carried away and losing sight of the very fact that a budget existed! The form followed the function based on the design motif and thus we have a very compact reception hub (for 3 people) that is open and interactive with patrons and employees alike.

The key feature to highlight here is the use of standard light fixture components within custom made wooden blade elements. Repetition and attention to detail helped to minimize waste and make fabrication easy for the millwork supplier who was responsible for building the lights. Budgets do not have to limit creativity or be a discouragement to a designer. We should always be looking for new and innovative ways to express design. Does this light fixture cost more than an “out-of-the-box” standard light fixture – YES, but at only 1.5X’s the cost of a standard 2×4 parabolic light (typical office light) you be the judge as to whether the aesthetic justifies the added cost. “Custom” is the game we play daily as designers unless we are truly pulling something off a shelf and dropping it into a predetermined space (which we could argue really doesn’t require design.) If we keep things simple, custom goes a long way!

Designing the Solution 2 of …….

Ceiling Model

So here is where we go from the original sketch to test the design concept. We utilize a modeling program called Google SketchUp Pro to work quickly to generate a 3-Dimensional image for review in-house. Does it begin to address our goals that we listed in the last Blog Entry as our design guideline…? The modeled image gives us a sense of scale quickly as well as a method of requiring us to think about constructibility. Let’s face it – we still need to keep budget in mind when we work on a design solution that is creative and/or unique without a precedent to reference. At this stage we are thinking about lighting style and locations as well. A model similar to this can be forwarded to our electrical engineer to convey the direction we wish to move with lighting, and in this case for both general illumination and accent lighting of the design as well.

While not every aspect of a design gets modeled, SketchUp is a valuable tool to communicate our design ideas to our clients, and we utilize it often during different stages of design. Many times words are insufficient to describe our ideas and the last thing we want is our client scratching their heads in confusion when we can clarify design intent and ideas in a simple format similar to this.

Our use of SketchUp makes us better designers! It engages our clients during the design process. We see concepts before construction to ensure we are diligently keeping budget in mind. It allows us to coordinate/communicate more effectively with our engineers as well as with the general contractor. And….it’s fun!

On the Boards

Block Day 01 revised

We have currently wrapped up a concept design for a couple’s lake retreat nestled into a wooded lot at Linn Valley Lakes. The project started a few months back with a site visit along with the client to determine appropriate positioning to maximize the lake views while maintaining some privacy. After several rounds of options, we have finally plowed ahead into development of the design.

The retreat’s main living space, kitchen and reading rooms all have magnificent views of the lake while both bedrooms have views of the nearby creek and waterfall. The over-sized windows serve not only to maximize the lake view, but to bring in an abundance of natural light – a key design feature that helps to really enhance the natural material selections for interior finishes of wood and limestone.

The retreat is a 2 bedroom/2 bath, 1,300 square foot modern work of architecture. It will be the first modern home on the lake and the client is looking to develop several other lots on the lake with a similar design. The client intends to break ground this spring.