MNKO: We’ve talked about taking the time to interview different architects, and the importance of being honest with them. Is there anything else that would make the experience of building my dream home more successful?
Peter: I have my clients set up a Pinterest account and a Houzz account. Houzz is a room-by-room, graphically oriented website. You say “kitchens,” and there’s 30,000 kitchens to look at, and you narrow it down. The site has different types: traditional, contemporary, tropical. . . .
Frank: Large, small, medium, expensive. . . .
Peter: The clients go through room by room and select all the things they like, and I have them write what they like about it. Giving clients Houzz and Pinterest as homework [encourages them] to take the time to really think about how they’re going live in this space, and not just wait till they meet with us to go over design development. It’s helpful as a designer to have that information.
It also complicates things, because then you have to bring a bunch of scattered design elements together.
Frank: With Houzz and Pinterest, you’re pulling their ideas out, synthesizing those ideas and getting some sort of common thread. “You’ve picked these things; did you realize this and this and this are related to each other? Can we put that into the design?”
Successful designers realize that the clients are designing the home. With a good designer, there’s no hidden agenda; there’s hopefully a lack of ego. You’re helping people realize, “Oh, I really don’t need that big of a kitchen,” or “We can get away with three bedrooms, not six.” You’re helping, but they’re designing. That’s the most successful residential design.
Peter: When I was a kid, hana bata days, I’d go with my dad to jobsites. He’d say, “We’re going to sit here at this time of day. Notice where the sun is, where it’s going to rise. Notice where the wind is — is today a typical day? Look at the views. Over there you can see Lāna‘i meet the water.” We’d sit there and draw it out, really get to know the site.
Every project is unique; every site presents different design issues or possibilities. And when you add the client to the uniqueness of each site, it’s fun. It’s never boring to be an architect.
Jim: We’ve been talking a lot about the practical reasons to hire an architect. Here’s a quote by [Swiss-French architect] Le Corbusier that touches on another element of architecture, the mystery, the delight:
You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces. That is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say: This is beautiful. That is Architecture. Art enters in.