and function go hand in hand toward a successful conclusion.
Excerpted with permission from the Woodworker
artist I have learned to appreciate the fact that an entryway
can become the "opening statement" to the architecture of
a building and its interior. With this in mind, it has always
been a privilege to be commissioned to design and build the
entry for a special piece of architecture. It goes without
saying that craftsmanship and technical knowledge are important
to the piece itself, but it is continuity of design that brings
the whole project together. The evolution of the design from
concept to reality should be as painstaking and meticulous
as the physical construction of the project. The numerous
considerations within this design stage are always dependent
upon the timing of the specific job. Nonetheless, there is
a chronological sequence to all construction projects, and
a formula can be followed.
I was contacted by a client to build the entryway doors
to their new home in Mammoth Lakes, California. They had
spent a night at the hotel "Chateau du Sereau" where I had
produced the doors and furniture in 1990. Although they
appreciated the provincial treatment used at the Chateau,
their home was being designed in the style of the architects
Greene and Greene who played a major role in developing
and popularizing Craft Period design. The foundation work
had just been completed, so I was assured of enough time
for my part of the project. The seventy-five hundred square
foot residence would take nine more months to complete.
At the time I was only somewhat familiar with the work
of Greene and Greene from my days as a college art student.
As a result of this project I was afforded the opportunity
to research in detail these brothers who worked in Pasadena,
California around the turn of this century. I was amazed
at how I shared many of the same attitudes as the Greenes
about the use of space and its relation to architecture.
Pioneers of the so called Arts and Crafts Movement, they
believed that the completeness of their environmental world
included responsibility for the smallest details. This would
include the furnishings, and everything that surrounded
the lives within their houses.
Further, the design research for a project like this also
includes the involvement of the present architect, builder,
and most importantly, the owner. It is very important to
adapt the design to the attitudes and lifestyle of the client.
Purity of style is not as important as the underlying attitude
of that style. Team effort or the lack of it, is what will
be most evident in the final presentation of the whole project.
I was given a lot of freedom with the design of this project
It was decided early on that the surface of these doors
should, somehow become a reflection of their surroundings
in Mammoth Lakes. The Greene and Greene style of architecture
allowed for the use of a "plank type" door which lends itself
to relief carving. Once this was decided I could begin to
put my thoughts on paper to first lay out the door design,
and then make sketches for a proposed carving. This is where
it is important to work closely with all involved.
| The front doors to this Mammoth Lakes,
California home evolved from many elements ranging
from the overall architectural style of the residence
(Arts and Crafts period inspired by Greene and Greene)
to concealment of wire pathways for electronic latches.
Other concerns included mural design and fabrication
techniques to prevent warping in a climate known for
At this stage all the decisions that affect the total
look of the project occur. For instance; my choice of wood
species, based upon its grain and friendliness to carving,
may dictate that the same species be used to trim the entire
house. Or, the owner's ideas for the exterior masonry treatment
might suggest a different wood be used for my doors. There
are many concerns regarding the continuity, but the time
invested now is well spent to insure that mistakes either
in design or fabrication do not show up at the time of installation.
After an initial meeting with all concerned the design
aspect can be handled by telephone, Fax, or through the
mail. However, the field measurements are too critical to
be lost through communication. After framing has been completed
a trip to the site is scheduled. In the case of an entry
door system I will meet both with the owner and builder
to verify such things as floor treatments, drywall thickness,
and the transition height from outside to inside.
In this case concealed electric locks were used to avoid
disturbing the carving with hardware. The locks made it
necessary for me to provide a hidden channel for the wiring.
Also at this meeting we decided to use wooden door handles.
Such details are too important to be left to chance.
It's especially rewarding to me when a project design
evolves towards a sculptural treatment. The design aspect
for me is a system of development and refinement and, once
completed, the actual carving can begin. By this time the
client has already approved the concept and drawings so
I know that they will be happy with the sculpture. In this
case I used a mural approach to the carved scene as opposed
to a book-matched pattern (photo 1), or some other symmetrical
design (photo 2). While wanting to maintain a good balance,
it was necessary to include many subjects in the mural which
were important to the client. These included the aspen trees
growing on the property, the deer in the foreground and
Yosemite falls up high and in the background. The lake was
used to bridge the scene by adding a diminishing perspective.
Another double door entryway by the author shows a
book matched design using plank construction technique.
This single entry door by Maccarone incorporates a
symmetrical look featuring panel construction and
In constructing these large plank doors, great pains were
taken to insure that they didn't warp. In extreme climates
such as Mammoth Lakes, (elevation 7200'), there are rapid
temperature swings. Also, carving on one face relieves tension
within the board which will also cause warping. Laminating
the planks individually, (using many plys), before they
are edge glued, eliminated the problem. The cross braces
on both sides are also laminated to keep the door from curling.
Delivery and installation is what all design, planning
and fabrication leads to. It is the point in time when all
of the different aspects of the project must come together.
Delivery and installation is the moment of truth.
Because of distance, this will most likely be the only
time that I can see my completed work installed within the
architecture it was designed for. It is also a time when
I can see the owner's first expression. And, after all,
they are the people I am trying to please. For these reasons
I always try to budget enough time to personally deliver
and install my work. This way I can attend to all the details,
and by doing so, thank the client for their confidence and
is a woodworker and artist with a degree in
sculpture from San Jose State University in California. He's
currently renovating a turn-of-the-century mansion in Port