From The Land, written by Daniel P. Gregory, former senior home editor of Sunset Magazine, and gorgeously photographed by Erhard Pfeiffer, looks at the warm, elegant work of award-winning West Coast architect Howard Backen with a lean and restrained eye.
This volume, the first in a series published by Rizzoli books, isn’t overrun with text or filled with the filler of meaningless black and white snaps as so many of these books are. Instead clients are mentioned, plans are explained, materials and layouts are discussed. And the placement of each photo is as deliberate as the projects that are highlighted within.
Featured are Napa Valley wineries and a rare glimpse of Backen’s residential work.
Including farmhouses, hilltop homes, seaside retreats and lakeside hideaways.
Last winter I wandered into Restoration Hardware in the Flatiron district of New York City. The subtle use of light and large rooms created a sense of flow that beckoned the outdoors even in the middle of the snow-covered city on that cold and gray winter’s day. I roamed and lingered for hours.
Backen designs for the dreamers among us and within us who can see beyond walls and vistas and enclosed roofs. For film executives and actors, moguls and artists and others who make commerce out of their art. And for the rest of us who wish to.
His homes are filled with invisible walls, as glass pocket-doors are designed to disappear.
Traditional spaces have been subtly redefined in a modern and fresh way.
Materials feel organic and are often reclaimed. Vista framing doors and ceilings reach beyond a standard height and design encouraging one’s eye to drift beyond discernible boundaries.
Backen understands that powerful architecture is a successful manifestation of the dialogue between structure and surrounding. His work is brave and moving because it demands that we not only look at it, but beyond it.
In her introduction, actress and self-ascribed serial renovator Diane Keaton talks about how she made a binder filled with Backen’s work after seeing his website. I completely understand her motivation to do so. For me, Daniel Gregory’s From The Land is a must-read because it is filled with the kind of architecture that makes me feel as though I can fly. I like to look at it before sleep as doing so almost always guarantees a nighttime adventure of soaring and floating and living for just a little while beyond my wildest dreams.