As an artist I have learned to appreciate the fact that an entryway can become the “opening statement” to the architecture of a building and its interior. With this in mind, it has always been a privilege to be commissioned to design and build the entry for a special piece of architecture. It goes without saying that craftsmanship and technical knowledge are important to the piece itself, but it is continuity of design that brings the whole project together. The evolution of the design from concept to reality should be as painstaking and meticulous as the physical construction of the project. The numerous considerations within this design stage are always dependent upon the timing of the specific job. Nonetheless, there is a chronological sequence to all construction projects, and a formula can be followed.
I was contacted by a client to build the entryway doors to their new home in Mammoth Lakes, California. They had spent a night at the hotel “Chateau du Sereau” where I had produced the doors and furniture in 1990. Although they appreciated the provincial treatment used at the Chateau, their home was being designed in the style of the architects Greene and Greene who played a major role in developing and popularizing Craft Period design. The foundation work had just been completed, so I was assured of enough time for my part of the project. The seventy-five hundred square foot residence would take nine more months to complete.
At the time I was only somewhat familiar with the work of Greene and Greene from my days as a college art student. As a result of this project I was afforded the opportunity to research in detail these brothers who worked in Pasadena, California around the turn of this century. I was amazed at how I shared many of the same attitudes as the Greenes about the use of space and its relation to architecture.
Pioneers of the so called Arts and Crafts Movement, they believed that the completeness of their environmental world included responsibility for the smallest details. This would include the furnishings, and everything that surrounded the lives within their houses.
Further, the design research for a project like this also includes the involvement of the present architect, builder, and most importantly, the owner. It is very important to adapt the design to the attitudes and lifestyle of the client. Purity of style is not as important as the underlying attitude of that style. Team effort or the lack of it, is what will be most evident in the final presentation of the whole project.
I was given a lot of freedom with the design of this project It was decided early on that the surface of these doors should, somehow become a reflection of their surroundings in Mammoth Lakes. The Greene and Greene style of architecture allowed for the use of a “plank type” door which lends itself to relief carving. Once this was decided I could begin to put my thoughts on paper to first lay out the door design, and then make sketches for a proposed carving. This is where it is important to work closely with all involved.