West Cambridge Half-A-Double

Interior Architecture, 2022
General Contractor: FBN Construction

When the owners of this house contacted us about working with them to design their newly acquired nineteenth-century residence in Cambridge and told us that one of them was an architect—a practicing architect—we were suspect. We know, of course, just how particular architects can be. To be clear, we whole-heartedly subscribe to an interest in every aspect of a design—everything we do is steeped in design, and all of our clients are collaborators. But we were concerned that this project would become a matter of drafting the owners’ ideas. We were concerned that we could not contribute to their vision. They assured us that we would be partners.

We dove in, and as it turns out they do have a clear vision. They have collected furniture and objects from their travels. And unlike many architects that we can think of, they are truly interested in decoration. They did not believe that there is a hierarchical relationship between, say, space (architecture) and pattern (decoration), or light (architecture) and color (decoration). They would happily design a room around a piece of furniture that they love. Like the eclectic and inclusive design sensibility of C&J Katz Studio, they have no “less is more” subtext. They have no belief that a pair of chairs designed by an important twentieth century architect (Mies, Breuer, Le Corbusier) is all that a room needs to have architectural credibility. This couple scours antique markets, adores color and texture, and has no obvious interest in up-to-the-minute trends. While, like all of us, they absorb the zeitgeist, they are not afraid to engage in historical tropes or embrace cross-cultural design references.

As it turns out, the project truly was a design collaboration, a partnership that allowed us to develop new ideas in an unfamiliar design language. Visiting the space six months after it was completed, our clients reported that it is difficult for visitors to determine what is original and what is new. Compliment accepted.