Collective ThinkingAuthor:Lindsey Shook
AS THE FOUNDER OF A DESIGN PRACTICE that turns 40 this year, Paul Vincent Wiseman has garnered a lot of wisdom and insight during the course of his distinguished career. “There’s an old joke,” he says. “The three things you need for a great job are money, taste and time. But you only get two.” He pauses before continuing: “With these clients, I got all three.”
When you hit this trifecta, the outcome can be jaw-dropping. Especially if the clients—a husband and wife who had previously hired Wiseman for a project in Hawaii—assemble a dream team that includes not only the Wiseman Group but another industry titan, too: high-end residential architecture firm Landry Design Group. The duo ultimately conjured a roughly 11,000-square- foot contemporary residence in Southern California.
“It’s one of those properties where you really want to look at it and say, ‘How do we maximize the openness to the home’s vast views?’” recalls Richard Landry of his initial site visit. The clients’ wish for a “soft and fluid” concept translated into a unique structure with curved walls and ceilings. Such arcs are no simple undertaking, however. “Every time you use a curved line, it’s more complicated than a straight line,” the architect explains. “It’s more challenging from a structural perspective, but at the same time, it adds a lot to the feeling of the space—a more organic vibe.”
To achieve the complexities that the design presented, Wiseman and Landry relied on the talents of various members of their firms: at TWG, design directors Brenda Mickel and Mauricio Muñoz, along with associate design director Gil Mendez; and at LDG, associate Suzanne Shepela. Also contributing to the holistic effort were McCoy Construction and Stephen Billings Landscape Architecture.
Among the home’s character-defining features are the curved limestone walls, which are combined with orthogonal walls composed of Western red cedar. According to Wiseman, the cast-glass elements designed by Muñoz are remarkable as well: The brick pattern of the front door matches the brick pattern of the limestone, while the stairs flanking the backyard waterfall curve in two directions. The latter, which connect an upper-level spa to an infinity-edge pool, required casting each step individually—the risers and the treads— and was a first-time feat for TWG.
Since the homeowners appreciate quality and craftsmanship, all details were carefully considered, like the custom door hardware and window treatments throughout. “The linen curtains have a subtle stripe that runs through them,” says Wiseman. “At the bottom, it matches the height of the baseboard of every room. And in each room, depending on the privacy needs, the horizontal lines get denser and then open up as they go up, finally lining up again with the mullions.”
While the house is decidedly contemporary, age-old influences loom in the powder rooms. In one, the walls are covered in three-dimensional, upholstered origami panels. In another, Wiseman notes, 80-million-year-old fish fossils are incorporated into the walls to mimic a school of fish swimming around the space. Then there’s the powder room, which includes walls that appear to be abstract murals but are in fact a stunning example of hand-painted eglomise.
In a residence replete with triumphs, the home theater still stands out. Wiseman credits Mendez with devising the venue, whose wall panels echo the curves found elsewhere in the dwelling. “Each of those panels is on a different plane with the light coming out, and all the speakers and subwoofers are behind it,” says Wiseman. The bespoke lamp/side tables inspired a product line with Phoenix Day called Mendez.
The art also fell within TWG’s scope, with Wiseman accompanying the clients to Art Basel in Miami Beach and the couple subsequently attending the fair on their own. “It was about getting them comfortable with art and what kind of art would work in the house,” says Wiseman. The homeowners’ collection includes Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Hall, Raúl Mazzoni and Alexander Calder.
Given the project’s alluring setting, it’s no surprise that the clients expressed a strong desire for seamless indoor/ outdoor living. Landry obliged in spades, from the retractable expanses of glass and the clerestory windows to the great room’s covered loggia and the protected courtyard adjacent to the kitchen that allows for year- round alfresco dining. All of the outdoor furnishings are custom creations by TWG, with the teak pieces fabricated in Costa Rica by Munder Skiles.
From the get-go, TWG took its cues from the ideas put forth by LDG, and that collaborative mind-set carried through to completion. “We do everything we can to make sure that our interior design is in full relationship with the architecture,” says Wiseman. Although the fruits of such a relationship are evident in the end result, the success of the joint endeavor starts with the clients and their approach to the design and build-out process, he points out. “Whenever a client says, ‘I want the best and I want you to be the most creative you can be for us,’ that’s a gift.”