As architects our goal is to create spaces that evoke a quiet, emotional response. We believe that the use of elemental forms and minimal means can result in architecture that has nuance, depth and richness. Through a process of editing and refining we reduce distractions and decrease the visual noise of everyday life. As a result, our designs have an ambiance that resonates whether they are for prized private residences, art galleries or experimental retail boutiques.
To understand our approach to design it helps to understand our history. In 1942 George was an infant when his family was shipped to a Japanese American internment camp in Idaho. He spent the first three years of his life in barracks surrounded by barbed wire. The starkness of the camp and its primitive housing are a likely source for his predilection for elemental simplicity. The lack of personal possessions at the camp may have also contributed to his love of collections. Over the years he collected many objects - antiques, pottery, even branches and rocks - drawn by a sense of history, craftsmanship and the beauty of the natural world.
After graduating from the University of Washington's architecture program, George worked in the offices of Seattle architects Gene Zema and Ralph Anderson. Both were well known for their articulated wood structures and contributions to the development of Northwest Contemporary architecture. Zema was also a collector of Japanese antiquities and George traveled with him to Japan. He returned with an appreciation for the culture's reverence for nature, its emphasis on craft and the integration of building and landscape.
George started his own architecture practice in 1971 and Ric joined him in 1978. Ric has an analytical way of thinking that balances George's intuitive approach. The firm's work brought together earlier influences including expressive wood detailing and a strong connection between inside and outside. There was also an emphasis on decoration and the placement of curated objects to add ambience to spaces. At this time, we began our collaboration with artists, craftsmen and designers such as steel fabricator David Gulassa, furniture maker Kurt Beardslee and landscape architect Bruce Hinkley in the design of cabins, condominiums and houses.
A watershed moment for the firm was when the office moved from Eastlake Avenue to an 1890's stable-turned-garage in Belltown. This was a few years after Jay Deguchi joined the firm in 1992 bringing his talent for developing spatial sequences and experiences to our practice. Drawn by the garage's raw industrial materials and historic layers, we decided to leave as much of its patina intact as possible. Additions and interventions were limited to humble materials: drywall, plywood and steel.
The design of the new office raised questions for the rest of our work and we sought ways to imbue new construction with a sense of authenticity. One answer was to design architecture with elemental simplicity. We began to evaluate every aspect of a design for its ability to create a sense of place and eliminated anything that did not. We found that by using a limited palate of materials, the logic of construction became more evident adding to a sense of structural integrity and clarity. As the designs became more simple and spare, connecting to nature became more important. We looked to the Japanese idea of "borrowed landscape" and by dissolving the boundaries between inside and outside nature took the place of decoration.
This simplicity, the flow of spaces and the way we use materials makes our work modern, but it is a modernism full of warmth and nuance. We capture the ambiance of the objects that George collected for so long and create architecture that resonates with clients and all those that encounter it. We continue to approach each new project with these ideas and goals in mind.