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A Haiku of a Home by Roy McMakin

by Susi, 6 September 2008

Vashon Island house by Roy McMakin.

Last week The New York Times featured a fabulous farmhouse by eccentric designer, Roy McMakin. The article aptly describes McMakin as an “artist-designer based in Seattle, famous for tweaking archetypes of domesticity, from wing chairs to cottages, and blurring the lines between art and architecture in a variety of captivating and disquieting ways.”

McMakin-designed house on Vashon Island sits comfortably in its surroundings.

Set on an island within commuting distance of downtown Seattle, the featured farmhouse is a contemporary interpretation of the idioms of the region’s rural architecture, which stirs emotional memory for an ex-Northwesterner such as myself. I am reminded immediately of my old house in Seattle, hand-made in 1900 by a Norwegian boatbuilder. McMakin’s poetic recapitulation of the local vernacular also recalls the Scandinavian heritage which has informed rural and urban building in the Pacific Northwest for nearly two centuries.

Vernacular details expressed with the pared-down simplicity of a haiku.

The house is more than poetic. It is a haiku transmitting the essence of a building type, a way of life, and the peculiar Northwest way of relating to an often sombre landscape. Just go look. It is beautiful, magical, emotional, and highly dignified – – the antithesis of those horrific, yet ever-popular “American country style” homes which combine anachronism with saccharine and produce revolting kitsch.

Photos: Jason Schmidt, from The New York Times

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