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What's the most exciting thing you're working on now?
A net-zero-energy home in Los Altos Hills. It's a very modern (actually what I call "earthy modern") home with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay. It will be heated and cooled with a ground-source heat-pump system, has a rammed-earth feature wall, a living roof, a rooftop vegetable garden and orchard, a rainwater reclamation and tons of solar panels — every green and energy-saving feature we could think of. It will be close to net zero energy, which is very cool, and it's going to look really cool as well.
Who’s one of your favorite artists?
Vermeer. The sense of light in his paintings is unbelievable. "Girl With a Pearl Earring" is magical. I can stare at it for hours.
The most important thing on your desk is …
I don't know what I would do without my iMac and iPhone. Thank you, Steve. You were the best.
Favorite classic furniture piece?
The Gehry cardboard Wiggle chair or the Gerrit Rietveld Red & Blue chair.
Make tract-house developers use really good architects, an appropriate amount of budget, and incorporate better long-term thinking. Over 90% of Americans live in houses with extremely substandard design and cheap materials, and the public doesn't know what they are missing. The health of our planet and our quality of life suffer greatly because of it.
Your ideal client is …
A combination of knowing what they want functionally and stylistically enough to give you a strong direction, and then are still wide open to being inspired and educated. It helps if they are very involved and interested, ask lots of questions, and also are able to understand and respect the architect's vision.
What inspires your designs?
Many things. My love of architecture, all styles, modern being my favorite currently. The environment, the specific site and the surrounding region are huge inspirations. Probably most of all are my clients. My only nonnegotiable is that they must love their home, so I take a lot of inspiration from what they are dreaming of, what would make them the most happy and proud. I try to capture their souls and create a shelter for their psyche, if that makes sense. The bottom line is that buildings are for people, so they for me are the most important inspiration. The site is a very close second; in some cases it's a tie.
Where's your go-to place for inspiration?
Where in the world do you want to go next? Why?
Spain. Man, I am just dying to see Barcelona and the work of Antonio Gaudi, and then drive over to Bilbao and experience Gehry's Guggenheim Museum firsthand. For me there are so many similarities in the work of these two great architects. Both are true artists deep down, and without art in architecture, you just have bricks and mortar with no soul. Why do it?
Do you still draw, or is everything on the computer now?
I still hand-draw every project, especially in the design phase. I leave the CAD to my wonderful staff, who are much better at it than I am. We eventually complete the design in 3D on the computer, which is an awesome and powerful tool, but most everything is still designed with a pen in my hand.
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Jean Dufresne | Josh McCullar