Shoptalk - Hoedemaker Pfeiffer

Can you tell us about your introduction to architecture and why it originally interested you?

Hoedemaker: Residential architecture really represents an opportunity to craft a unique set of spaces around a family. The mix of the truly personal and often ephemeral with the science of building is something that I was introduced to from an early age in a family of builders and designers. Where those things meet there is an act of faith and an element of art. It is that space that motivates me every day.

Pfeiffer: As a kid I was fascinated by the grand Victorian home my great-great grandparents built in Port Townsend where my father grew up. My grandmother shared generations of storied lives inhabiting the sprawling place. She literally painted a picture with the furnishings and art that filled that world. I drew that house and those rooms and many of the town’s great houses over and over as a kid. Those memories hooked me into the notion of the built environment as the place for our shared experience.

When you founded your own firm, what were your goals? Was there something different that you wanted to accomplish?

Hoedemaker: The firm was founded with the idea of working with a limited number of clients to create elegant and timeless homes. Over decades of work we have come to think of the firm as a place to explore all aspects of home from architecture and interiors to art and furnishings. The mix of disciplines and passion gives us a huge toolbox for helping people tell their personal stories of home.

Pfeiffer: Until 2013 my career had focused on designing specialty lifestyle, retail and hospitality ‘branded environments’ that took inspiration from residential design. The key design focus was creating a specific physical experience…a customer journey through the designed space. When I partnered with my friend Steve Hoedemaker in our current firm, it was a natural next step in my creative evolution. I now focus on creating living experiences specific to the personality of a family with unique aspirations, histories and complexities. My prior work had taken me across six continents with the opportunity to work with crafts people from around the globe. I wanted to bring my adventures and experiences in the art and decorative markets everywhere to our firm. I also dreamed of opening a sibling gallery/showroom to house my passion for art, furniture and objects and in Steve found a partner who shared my vision. That has been realized as Housewright Gallery—recently named one of AD’s Top 40 Home Decor Stores in America. So, we now occupy a unique space in the architecture and design world—distinctly full-service.

Do you have a dream project you would like to work on, or a location that you would like to work in?

Hoedemaker: The best architecture is about more than spaces and materials, more than light and shadow. The best work is transformative. The dream project is to be able to create a beautiful stage on which a family can live their life. That work tells a story, delights, surprises, calms, and lives in our memory and experience.

Pfeiffer: I would love to develop design plans for a destination, multi-platform eco resort. Today much of our key design work focuses on smaller scale island and ranch versions for family compounds. Moving into the resort space with sustainability as a driver would allow the multidimensional design of amenities and experience to be shared by many. We have exciting new work budding along the California coast!

What aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?

Hoedemaker: I grew up between a modern house in the city and a farmhouse in the country. Both houses were remodeled extensively and that experience shaped my understanding of what home can be and how homes live and change over time. I love the idea of French poet Gaston Bachelard that houses become repositories of memory. The memories of those homes lives in the work I do today.

Pfeiffer: I learned to design homes around the way people live. I grew up in a house with a large extended family that highlighted organization and an understanding of personal and shared spaces. For me there’s nothing more important than the unseen design that creates a fluid and efficient way of living. For most of our projects that means focus on programming and on comfort in spaces that flex to accommodate many whilst still intimate enough to feel personal. Every client has an individual family history, needs and aspirations for their project. My greatest design satisfaction lands on manifesting those complex desires while fulfilling my own fantasies for life in their home.

Outside of architecture, what are you currently interested in and how is it influencing your design thinking?

Hoedemaker: The practice has always focused on sustainability and with ongoing developments in building technology we are excited about taking projects off grid and creating enduring buildings that are even better citizens of the built environment. Our relationship to nature feels more tenuous and important than ever. I am thinking a lot about how a house can be a tool for providing different levels of protection with a goal of always connecting us to the world outside the walls.

Pfeiffer: Where my heart and mind wander. I love landscape and gardening. From the Olmstead Brothers grand schemes to small Japanese Zen gardens, I find great satisfaction in the cultivation of the natural world. This shows up while partnering on landscape for our projects to insure seamless, focused integration of interior living to the outside environment. Sustainability wears many hats and I am a treasure hunter. The search for and reuse of furniture, art and objects make me a things guy. Nothing holds my attention more than wandering the Paris Flea market in search of the imperfect treasure. Hand built and crafted pieces and the artists and artisans who have brought them to us fascinate me. In every space I design, I look for the opportunities to draw the eye to placement in order to take the individual on a storied journey through the home. A collected environment with mixed in heritage furniture and art give substance and history to a home. In this way we too support the artisans who create future treasures and the collectors who preserve the beauty of the past.

Favorite way to spend a weekend in the Northwest?

Hoedemaker: Sometimes it helps to leave all buildings behind. My favorite northwest weekends are spent sailing, where elegant technology meets wind and water in a way that can be pure poetry and total escape.

Pfeiffer: In this pandemic summer, an island beach house, paddle boarding in the morning, gardening in the afternoon, BBQ with a few pals and a bonfire at days end.

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