When I moved to the Bay Area in the year 2000, I was struck by the mid-century modern design of Joseph L. Eichler, whose track home communities in the Santa Clara and San Mateo counties introduced modern architecture to Northern California. I was moved by the flat roofs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and natural materials, which together, conveyed simplicity and a certain affinity with the natural world. Perhaps because I felt a direct connection with the mid-century Eichler homes, I was surprised to see a significant gap existed between modernist architecture then and now. For decades, modern design was associated with affordable housing, as opposed to luxury estates. Despite the dogma of progress that began ringing through Silicon Valley with the rise of IBM, Intel, Apple, and other technology companies in the 1970s, wealthy executives preferred traditional architecture styles, such as Mediterranean and California Ranch, as opposed to sleek, contemporary design. Around the turn of the twenty-first century, I, along with many of my colleagues, decided it was time to reintroduce modern architectural to the luxury market in Silicon Valley. I began with my own home.
In 2002, I built a custom home in Sunnyvale, California that featured strong geometric design and a spacious open floor plan. Pops of bold color and serpentine focal points added a sense of lived-in vibrancy to the otherwise subdued mix of natural wood, steel, and glass. Six years later, I built a second home for my family in Los Altos, California. The two-story home, with curving staircases, rich woods and textural stone, was selected as a tour home in honor of the great modernist architect Richard Neutra.
In the same way in which I design my own homes to be dynamic living spaces where I emotionally connect with the architecture, I strive to create custom homes for my clients that make them feel not only warm and supported, but also bold and energetic. As Robert Sullivan once said, “Good architecture is like a good therapy session, a good marriage, a good poem – gently and almost invisibly allowing you to be you, as flawed and as beautiful as you are.”
The homes I design are part of a greater zeitgeist, in which contemporary design has become a foundational element in the greater story of Silicon Valley in the twenty-first century. The recent rise in demand for modern contemporary architecture in Silicon Valley owes much of its success to technology companies like Apple, which approach innovative product design from the perspective of enhancing quality of life. Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe articulated the minimalistic gospel of twenty-first century tech more than 100 years ago when they said, respectively, “A house is a machine for living in” and “less is more.” Today, the minimalistic aesthetic is ubiquitous. The iPhone and MacBook are largely responsible for not only bringing minimalism back, but also for re-branding sleek, sexy design as affordable and associating it with luxury.
Websites like Houzz and such blogs as Contemporist have also been instrumental in popularizing modern contemporary design and making it accessible to a larger public. As more people encounter modern contemporary design through Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media and digital platforms, an enthusiastic following for the modern and contemporary aesthetic grows. People from all socio-economic backgrounds and a wide range of demographics now identify with and are excited about modern and contemporary architecture. As an architect with a deep-rooted passion for modern contemporary design, I am thrilled more and more of my clients want to discover what modern contemporary design can mean for them and their families.