We are excited to have just added a second title by the prominent American architect Gil Shafer to our bookshelves: A Place to Call Home. In his introduction, Shafer discusses the “importance of personalizing a project… I cannot design a house unless I bring to the task an aspect of my own life experience – something that should be true for any of us as we go about creating a place to call home.” Indeed the entire business of architecture and interior design is about creating homes for others. And the ideal home is a perfect encapsulation of the memories, ideals and dreams of its inhabitants. At the end of the day our home is the place where we return to find sustenance, relaxation and love. It is the mission of architects and interior designers to translate those memories, ideals and dreams into concrete bricks and mortar, from the very foundation all the way to the cushions on the sofa.
While I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite house in this book, certainly one of my favorites is the California cottage (cover photo) that Schafer reimagined and expanded to create a welcoming home for a young family. Schafer describes his attraction to this project: “… I found myself attracted … to the reality that many of the tools in my classical kit wouldn’t be appropriate for the California vernacular, which is less about elegant details and sophisticated finishes and all about simple materials, light, space, and the connection with the great outdoors. I relished this opportunity to explore something new.” I was also drawn to this California house because Rita Konig worked with the family on the interior design. Her unerring eye for cozy tactile details, colorful and sometimes humorous touches (the “Drink More Gin” sign over the fireplace!) seems to suit the California lifestyle perfectly.
Schafer’s deeply personal connection with his clients is unequivocal. In “Memory and Intuition”, Schafer describes how as an architect he views it as his role to tap into these very indelible emotions. He summons his clients’ memories and creates for them a new home that is singularly theirs’ in that those memories are reflected in the walls around them. What a very lucky family indeed is able to make their way home to one of Schafer’s houses every night.
Reading this book is a rather delicious way to spend a rainy day: the architecture, interior design, and all of Schafer’s musings about his mastery of his trade make for wonderful reading!