September 3, 2015
Q&A with Architect Blaze Makoid
Blaze Makoid, of the Bridgehampton-based firm Blaze Makoid Architecture, answers our questions on the firm's jaw-droppingly gorgeous projects and what the future holds for them.
by New York Spaces
NYS: Where is Blaze Makoid Architecture based? Do your projects tend to solely be based in the area?
Blaze Makoid: Our main office is in Bridgehampton, NY. We also opened an office in the Lake Tahoe area to service new work there as well as in Jackson Hole, WY. While 90% of work is Hamptons based, we have enjoyed the opportunities to work in new places. My wife is very much pushing for the next project to be in Miami!
NYS: What you describe your architectural style as? Who are your icons?
BM: I don't know if architectural style is the best way to think about what we do. We attempt to understand the culture of our clients, who happen to live a modern lifestyle and are quite versed in travel, business and the arts, and we create very custom, personal resorts for them to unwind and unplug. I am very much intrigued by the work of Carlo Scarpa and Alvaar Aalto. I'm fascinated by their ability to create a regional modernism that was unique to their studios and incorporate an intimate relationship with craftsmen that went beyond typical construction labor and use these resources in a way that no none else was doing.
NYS: You graduated from RISD. How did the school and the community of design it fostered shape your career path?
BM: First, it was amazing—and daunting—to arrive at a place where everyone was pursuing creativity. RISD was also a place that encouraged cross pollination. Students are on a trimester schedule that allows for a six week "Winter Session" term, during which students are strongly encouraged to explore outside of their majors. The extra term enables architects to take glass blowing, sculptors to try graphic design, etc. I think this is where my appreciation for craft really took off.
NYS: How would you describe your body of work?
BM: My work is ever-evolving. I made a decision when I started my firm in 2001 that we were going to pursue a particular type of work and that this would not happen quickly, and that it would involve turning down work that did not fit that goal. It was a slow process, which in the end, I'm thankful for. It allowed us to better understand who we are, what we want to do and most importantly, how to achieve it. It also allowed for our reputation to be built based on the experience of our clients and others we come in contact with, and what they say about us.
NYS: What is one of the most interesting projects you have worked on so far?
BM: The project that comes to mind as the most unusual was a renovation we did years ago for Robert Marc, the optical designer. As part of the project, we took the existing foundation from the original manor house and converted into a series of sunken outdoor rooms. We created an outdoor dining room and lounge area anchored at either end by a beautiful board-formed concrete outdoor fireplace, and at the other by a bronze fountain we designed. I love that project and Robert and I have been friends ever since.
NYS: Considering you work mostly in the Hamptons , do you tend to see a difference in the way client's approach what is usually their second home or weekend home? How so?
BM: Completely. I attend a conference on Hospitality Design every year. The lightbulb went off in my head a few years ago. Although we always try to immerse ourselves in the understanding of how our clients live, it wasn't until a few years ago, while attending this event that I realized we are in essence, designing small, personal resorts for our clients. These are the places they go for a break, to get away from being totally plugged in 24/7, and to entertain. This is their resort and we want to focus on their experience. Not just the experience of the house at the end of it all, but their experience going through the process.
NYS: You tend to integrate the landscape of the Hamptons into each project. How do you do this?
BM: We collaborate. We're fortunate to work with some of the best Landscape Architects in the business. We encourage our clients to allow us to bring in and integrate the key design consultants immediately so that the entire design is integrated in terms of architecture, landscape, interiors and lighting.
NYS: Why is the presence of nature and the reflection of the water so important to your work?
BM: We've been fortunate in that many of our projects are on special sites, whether it might be the ocean, bay or farm field. Particularly as second homes, our clients use the outdoor areas probably more than they do with their primary residences.
NYS: What are some of your favorite materials to implement into the design of a house? Why?
BM: We prefer to keep it simple, often using elegant selections of stone, wood and glass. We stay away from trendy materials that can date a house by the time the project is complete.
NYS: Do you mostly work on residential?
BM: Our work has been residential, for the most part, since moving out to the Hamptons, as most of the opportunities are in residential design. That said, we've been fortunate. We designed the headquarters for Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as the Experience Center for Crescendo Home Technology and a small commercial building in Bridgehampton. Recently, we were named the design architect for a new cancer center for Southampton Hospital, which is especially rewarding.
NYS: What advantages and disadvantages do you face with residential projects? Commercial projects?
BM: The best, but not necessarily the easiest aspect of residential work, is that the experience with our clients is so personal. It's their home. There's substantial money at stake. They often have never been involved in a design and construction project before. It can become very emotional. When it works well, it is incredibly satisfying. Many of our clients have become great friends along the way.
NYS: What would your dream project consist of?
BM: I have two dream projects. I've always wanted to do a winery. We came close last year, but the project never materialized. I love the combination of production and pageantry. Someday, I want to do a yacht. I designed our own boat with a company in Rhode Island two years ago and enjoyed the process immensely—and I obviously enjoy the end product!
NYS: What are you working on now?
BM: We're quite busy with some great work. We have numerous residential projects taking shape right now in the Hamptons, Tahoe and Jackson Hole, and the cancer center. It's a very rich plate that I never dreamed we'd have the opportunity to pursue.