Stitches in Time: Design Inspiration
What are some of our designers and architects up to when they’re not creating home plans? New York architect Ross Anderson, for one (Plans 433-1,433-2), is completing a comprehensive interior remodel of Levi Strauss & Company’s headquarters in San Francisco, which I toured yesterday. His charge was to open up the floors for greater communication, to foster teamwork, and to express Levi’s uniqueness as a clothing manufacturer. His solution draws inspiration indirectly from the company’s fascinating history. Some of that history is preserved in the Levi’s archive, called The Vault (off the atrium lobby and open to the public).
The mini-museum highlights Levi’s changing iconography since its founding in 1853, like the original Two Horse Brand, above, demonstrating clothing strength.
Garments from many eras are displayed, like this woman’s cotton shirt from the 1960s. One case
shows skeins of denim thread along with brad and button patterns.
Ross absorbed this history intuitively and then adapted aspects of it to three-dimensional design: i.e. architectural forms of layering. He has created a series of dividers that double as display systems. Narrow gauge stainless steel mesh covers the walls of the meeting areas so clothing
or other objects can be hung up for a constantly changing showcase. The mesh screen — woven metal is really a form of stitchery with very large thread! — has an alluring sheen as well as transparency, which exposes the supporting wood frame even as it provides a flexible wall for showing off the latest Levi’s fashions. Here are durability, toughness, construction-made-visible — all aspects of the jean esthetic translated into architecture. I think a version of this wall system would work well at home — say in a bedroom or family room as a changeable photo wall. Ross also designed the work carrels
to include a small display board covered in felt — the exposed bolts recall the brads on a Levi’s jean jacket. Other wall surfaces are covered in blackboards and whiteboards designed for writing; bamboo; recycled teak; and eco-friendly crushed sunflower hulls. This latter product was new to me. It has a warm wood tone and densely figured patterning (image below courtesy Chartreuse, an interesting Sioux Falls, SD-based green product research website)
that’s more distinctive than wheat board but not as striated as Kirei board.
Finally, the many thousands of square feet of new insulation in the remodeling is recycled denim — naturally!
Our Most Recent Exclusive Plans
Braxton Werner and Paul Field are the latest architects to join our Exclusive Studio. Braxton got his architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and Paul graduated from Carleton University at Ottawa. Their wf2studio plans are contemporary and eco-oriented. For example, in Plan 491-5
the long horizontal sod roof dominates, providing a strong image of shelter even as it helps to lower heating and cooling costs. The two-bedroom two and a half bath layout is simple and would suit a long narrow lot. Each major room opens to the outdoors along a covered porch.
Here’s a two story design (Plan 491-3) suitable for a wider and shallower lot.
The stairway separates the kitchen/dining area from the living room and the master suite is on the ground floor.
Upstairs both bedrooms open to the long porch. Braxton and Paul have also designed custom homes; their Glenwood is an especially handsome example (below) and shows how compelling an indoor-outdoor design can be.
Pool, terrace, and living area are practically interchangeable — though one of them is somewhat wetter than the others…There’s even an outdoor fireplace built into one wall of the patio. The crisp geometric clarity recalls such icons of Modernism as Mexico’s Luis Barragan and Italy’s Carlo Scarpa — indeed, Braxton and Paul have carefully studied their work.
Cliff May’s Mondavi House
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Robert and Margrit Mondavi house designed by Cliff May isnow for sale for $25 million.
(Photo courtesy WSJ) It’s a remarkable house – three levels overlooking an indoor pool under a great spreading gable roof that opens to the sky. You can read more about it in my Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House (Rizzoli, 2008. Shameless Self-Promotion Department). And for considerably less than 25 million — i. e. for $2,500 – you can purchase our exclusive Plan 64-172 by Dan Tyree
and inspired by Cliff May. See? You just saved $24,997,500!