New + old inspiration :: McLaren.Excell

Kicking off my research into the details found when piecing together new into old, I share with you the work of McLaren.Excell. A British firm focusing on both architecture & interior residences, McLaren.Excell creates beautifully crafted spaces endowed with light, clarity of material & a contemporary aesthetic often within old stone buildings or terraced London flats. Their process often involves pairing the home down to it's basics, removing old layers and celebrating the inherent structural materials of brick, stone, timber & rubble. The new additions are carefully entertwined or simply overlayed, each allowed to speak to its use & innate beauty. I love their use of cool sleek grey concrete countertops next to ancient elm timbers or rusted Corten steel which melds perfectly with old orange-y red brick. 

Image credits to  McLaren.Excell

Image credits to McLaren.Excell

Ipcock Residence - el dorado incThis segment is more a firm spotlight than one unique home or space. El dorado is a firm out of Kansas City that manages to blend architecture, fabrication, sculpture and design build projects all under one roof. I initially heard about them in 2004 when their Ipcock Residence received a lot of praise in the press. This residence, as well as many of their others, drew me in because of its elegant material palette and the way that the panes of glass were detailed to create the illusion of a floating ceiling plane.

Westside Residence - el dorado incThe precise way each of the varying interior and exterior finishes was articulated belied the firm's background in fabrication and I envied their knowledge of connections. Designer's are nothing if not for their detailing, how you take something simple and plain and make it inspiring and beautiful - I definitely aspire to this ideal and I think el dorado has moments of this in every project they undertake.

1737 Main - el dorado inc

Pizzabella South - el dorado inc

Through the years they've grown and their work has spread into all aspects of commercial and civic, but they bring that precision and tight material palette to those spaces as well. Creative firms housed in many of the Kansas City downtown buildings call on el dorado to update their space but trust that they will maintain the historic character and charm. Some examples show the firm successfully doing this by employing colorful wall planes, custom fabricating lighting fixtures and entry canopies and integrating branding and shade structures to add layers to the building.

Woodruff Sweitzer Office - el dorado inc

I know there are many more great spaces to show you from this firm, plus there's a whole story on regional design that I'm sure I haven't touched on but definitely adds to their appeal and unique approach. Long story short I like this firm and look forward to their stuff because their story resonates with me, their materials and details have evolved not changed and their initial work is still glimpsed in their current projects over 15 years later. What firms inspire you and make you seek out their latest projects for your own inspiration?

Scandinavian inspired

What I love about this Scandinavian inspired house located in Santa Monica is the simplicity of the plan, the small details and the abbreviated palette. I think that these three things are crucial to a successful space, especially when you're given a small site to work with. People like the look and feel of a space that can be intuitively deciphered, that's why we are drawn to symmetrical layouts or a balanced hierarchy of spaces, classic systems. What brings these spaces into a contemporary setting are the surprises within the classic layout, the modern use of materials, the details that create a uniqueness to the space.

For instance, the detail of the floor finish change beneath the floating fireplace - genius. A field of bleached wood floor whose only interruption is a perfect circle of white stones mirroring the hearth above.  One might call this a gesture, thereby rooting the seating area and creating a place for the eye to land and focus within the openness of the living area. 


Work by SWATT MIERS out of California. Beautiful examples of a wood, glass, stone pallette that melds into the site and topography of the project. The use of old school models is very inspiring and would be wonderful for a client to understand the concept and progress.