'DESIGNER TALKS HOME' INTERVIEW SERIES: MICHAEL PARKS
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I was drawn to architecture and design very organically. My love of architecture actually began as a child in Washington, D.C. where I played in a house designed by modern architect, Richard Neutra. I loved the spacious openness, bold lines and floor to ceiling glass, which were in direct contrast to the prevailing colonial and traditional architecture of Washington, D.C. Later in life, just for my own enjoyment, I would take walks in various cities and countries, searching out houses by the great modernists, not realizing I would someday be putting this inspiration to use.
Tell us about your typical day (at work and at home).
Fortunately or unfortunately, there is nothing typical about a typical day. If, for example, I am in the initial design phase of a project, my day can range from spending hours in front of my computer working with AutoCAD and Max3ds, creating plans and 3D models, to running across town to look at design materials, trips to the permit office, the actual site or meeting with a client. When possible, I love to go out in the evenings to experience things that I hope will inspire me such as art, music, food, film, theatre, sports, etc.
In your opinion, what are the key challenges in designing a residence?
I find that the creative design phase is the easiest and often most enjoyable part of the process. I have found that many of the challenges tend to be site specific. If, for example, you are working on a hillside property, there are numerous codes, rules & regulations that you do not have when working on a flat parcel of land. These will usually effect the layout and design of the house. In addition, there are many challenges that can result in budget issues if not addressed early. Things such as proper drainage systems, crane and equipment truck access and material back orders. The list can be long. This is why good advance work can be your biggest ally. Another challenge that many architects and designers must learn effective ways to manage is helping the client to make quick, acceptable and budget conscious decisions when it comes to materials, finishes, appliances, etc.
Tell us about your own home.
My wife and I live in Los Angeles in a Hollywood Hills house that is completely remodeled. Originally a run down dwelling with an abundance of problems including severe dry rot and termite damage to every area of the wood - post and beam-built house; windows that did not connect with their frames; a poor floor plan with little worthwhile usable space and only one proper bedroom; a kitchen where I actually put my foot through the rotted floor; poor ventilation with no insulation and an oddly shaped lot coupled with difficult hillside conditions I transformed it into a forward-thinking, open, airy and inviting modern architectural home that I believe accomplishes the rare feat of combining a minimalist aesthetic with both comfort and hip, understated luxury. We are thrilled with the final result and present it often when showcasing of my work.
As an architect/ designer, what do you think defines an inviting home?
A home should be an oasis for those that live in it. Most days, whether at work or in our daily activities, we are faced with often unavoidable pressures and stress. What I believe defines an inviting home is one that allows people to relax and rejuvenate. To achieve this I always try to design with a few basic principles: create warmth, open space and architecture that, like art, people will have a positive emotional reaction to and that will enrich their lives. I like the idea of changing the notion of a house from simple functionality into a place that enhances not only their quality of life but their mood and general state of happiness.