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Profiles & Interviews

Furniture Complex: Roy McMakin Profile

Don’t call him a designer—intrepid artist Roy McMakin is scything out his own creative path.

Read the full story here.

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New Frontiers

An airy addition on the back of a historic house in Boise is a model of sensitive renovation, seamlessly melding new and old.

After nine years spent renting apartments in Boston and Chicago, Dan and Dana Zuckerman moved to Boise, Idaho, Dan’s hometown, in 2008. Drawn by the prospect of purchasing a historic home where they could raise their three kids, and by a unique job opportunity for Dan, an oncologist, the couple forewent the allure of a turnkey house in favor of a 1910 American foursquare that needed (Read More…)

The Ultimate Napa Itinerary

California’s iconic Napa Valley remains the ultimate spot for travelers in search of rustic-luxe hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, and cult wineries.

Since 2005, Burgundy-born Gilles de Chambure, director of wine education at Napa’s Meadowood resort, has arranged vineyard visits and tastings for guests and nonguests alike. Arrive during the fall harvest or in early spring for fewer crowds, and don’t miss his top picks. (Read More…)

An Epic Plot

Architect Steve Bull designed a high-impact, low-maintenance home for a pair of intrepid clients in Alaska, but that was only the beginning of the adventure.

Working as ER doctors at a hospital in eastern Anchorage, Alaska, Tanya Leinicke and Rick Navitsky are accustomed to high-pressure situations, like ministering to the aftereffects of moose stompings and bear maulings. So when two stressful events intersected at the same moment in the couple’s life—a political revolution in Nepal jeopardized their adoption of a son just as the design and con­struc­tion of their 2,100-square-foot house ramped up—they handled the situation with an uncommon meas­ure of grace and perspective. Four years later, the couple (Read More…)

New Prospects

A Brooklyn architect shows what a little elbow grease, a healthy dose of naïveté, and a decade can accomplish.

Architect Jeff Sherman, of Delson or Sherman Architects, has more guts and gall than your average home renovator. In 2000, strapped by a “very finite budget,” he bought a wrecked row house in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, that had been used as an illegal breeding kennel. Over the next ten years, working as his own general contractor and builder, he transformed the scariest building on his block into a high-design home, all for about $100 per square foot. “I’m a little wary of the construction-on-a-dime myth trumpeted in the press,” says Sherman. “Construction (Read More…)

Hecho en Oaxaca

An experimental shop in Oaxaca, Mexico, is resuscitating the region’s ancient crafts traditions and bringing indigenous artisans’ designs into the 21st century.

In 2006, inspired by Oaxaca’s plethora of indigenous communities, who, says industrial designer Gustavo Fricke, “inherit craft traditions that are older than Columbus,” Fricke opened blackbox. To stock the shop, located in a colonial house in downtown Oaxaca city, Fricke and other designers collaborate with local artisans to create stylish, contemporary objects in time-honored ways. By spotlighting native talent—from city and village alike—Fricke and shop managers Roberto Vega and Rosario Martinez Llaguno hope to provide a sustainable livelihood for Oaxaca’s underemployed artists and craftspeople and, as Fricke says (Read More…)

Model Behavior

Monica Förster takes a hands-on approach to furniture design. In her Stockholm studio, she whips up a flurry of tiny paper models—“3-D sketches”—that rival their full-scale progeny for beauty and craftsmanship.

“The computer is a tool; I can’t do without it,” says Förster. “But the nice thing about making models is that in the process of doing, I’m more open to mistakes—maybe I put the tape in a way that I don’t intend, but it shows a new possibility. In a computer everything is perfect. When I make models, it’s intuitive and rough: I take a flat piece of paper, I cut it, I tape it. It’s very quick. I find it very refreshing.” (Read More…)

Profile: Thomas Phifer: Light on the Subject

Don’t be fooled by his mellow, self-effacing demeanor: Architect Thomas Phifer is a master of his craft, designing daylit, minimalist buildings that meld the ideals of classic modernism with 21st-century innovations.

Thomas Phifer is one of the most subdued architects you’ll ever meet. Sitting in his all-white New York office in a navy suit, reclining diagonally in a straight-backed chair, he speaks in a low and measured tone. When he’s being pensive—–which is most of the time—–he closes his eyes as he talks and bobs his hand gently in front of him like a conductor, as if coaxing out words. To hear him better, I lean in, block out the blaring car horns outside. In this way, he is like his architecture: exquisitely (Read More…)

Consumer Retorts

Chris Houston, the charmingly curmudgeonly owner of Modern Artifacts in San Francisco, is not your typical retailer. Though his shop is packed to the rafters with an eclectic and highly covetable range of vintage furniture, lighting, art, and craft, Houston takes a slow and thoughtful approach to retail and commerce.

At his workshop in the East Bay, he works with a fleet of California artisans—platers, refinishers, caners, upholsterers, framers, lacquerers—to impeccably restore the pieces he sells both online and in his shop. Dedicated to the credo of “less is more,” he recently got rid of his cell phone (Read More…)

My House: Startin’ Spartan

When Jay Atherton and Cy Keener met in grad school at the University of California, Berkeley, they discovered in each other a rare constellation of common interests: minimalist architecture, rock climbing, and “not talking.” After graduation, Atherton moved back to his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, and purchased a downtown lot. Wanting to build a house, he asked Keener—a pro carpenter, then living in Colorado—to help with design and construction. Six months later, “His house became our house,” says Keener. “It became obvious the only way it would get built was if I shared the mortgage.” Atherton cackles: “I suckered him down here.” (Read More…)