The popularity of Pinterest is undeniable. In the past we used to keep stacks of magazines with pages tagged in various colors of Post-It notes. Clients would bring binders of reference images cut from magazines. They might have collected for years. When it was finally time to realize their project we’d have to sort through all the dream faucets, appliances and master closet ideas. Then it became gigabytes of stored images on the computer usually with unhelpful file names that gave no clue to its origin. Pinterest makes this process easier. The goal is not to collect images to plagiarise but rather to stimulate a conversation.
I used a private pinboard on a recent home addition in the Windsor Square Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in Los Angeles. Spanish Colonial architecture has always charmed me, but I am not well versed in the subtle details of woodwork, ironmongery and ceramics that give it such character. The client wanted the addition to appear distinct but in harmony with the original house. Proportion and detail are critical to achieving a design that sings. I see too many homes (in every style but it is more noticeable with faux traditional) that just look “off”. I made visits to several Mission churches in Southern California to experience the details in person. The Library of Congress and the Historic American Building Survey also provided a wealth of useful information.
Architecture in my opinion is not primarily a visual art form. It is a full sensory experience that unfolds over time. A photograph captures a moment in time, a mood and a feeling. Working with the client to understand how they want to live and how they want to feel in their house is key to my design process. The creative aspect of the work is coming up with a design that meets those goals and hopefully provides surprises they didn’t originally know were possible. References help fuel the conversation at the early stages. Photos, films, music and art can all be a source of inspiration depending on the lifestyle of the client.