Client Testimonial: Curtis and Sharon Sakai

Apr 26, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

We recently completed our design and construction administration services on a major remodel and addition in Berkeley, California.  We thoroughly enjoyed working with the owners, Curtis and Sharon Sakai, who really embraced the idea of a modern addition that contrasts with their existing Craftsman home.  The project entailed a two-story rear addition and detached studio. We recently asked the owners to share how they felt about the experience of working with us, from initial concept to project completion.  Here is what they said: 'Our experience working with Ogawa Fisher Architects was the complete package. Both partners, Lynn and Hiromi, took the time to listen to our priorities and present us with concepts and options which were on track and easy to
work from. We started with a vision of adding a modern addition to a typical older craftsman but knew it might be tricky to come up with a graceful integration of the old with the new.   Through productive meetings and suggestions both practical and creative, we worked out a formidable "wish list", specific requirements and in the end the final drawing was a distilled version of what would be our dream home. We can't speak enough of what a pleasure it was working with both of them. The process, particularly when you're building in the Berkeley Hills, is extremely grueling and their professionalism and good humor to help support and push through the red tape was a blessed relief. They were also a very big and integral part of the build out. [They were] very helpful in sorting out many contractor errors, revising drawings and acting on the best interest of the homeowner on various occasions. The end product has been more than we anticipated as a family. One of the key features of our architectural design was to have an openness and flow to our large under-utilized backyard. We opened up our floor plan to integrate a larger kitchen with adjacent breakfast nook and family room.  Large windows surrounding the view [of] the bay directs you to our decking and large back yard which we are now in the process of completing.  We have already spent wonderful times cooking to our heart's delight and entertaining in the Kitchen/Family room, as a family and with guests. In the years to come we anticipate enjoyment of this space and the backyard area providing us with great indoor-outdoor living. Another key feature of our new home is the master suite which we built upstairs. The thought and care put into this space has created a haven for both of us. We wake up to a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco cityscape .  The openness and finishes in the suite including the bath are light and tranquil. We thought we were at a resort for the first month of living there.  We pinch each other daily and are grateful beyond words. There are so many other features in our home which we could point out which were created with a lot of care, attention to detail and listening to the homeowner. I would recommend the Ogawa Fisher team to anyone with a project to enhance their living space.

[They are] good professionals, who we now consider good friends.' Thank you, Curtis and Sharon!  We also thoroughly enjoyed working with both of you.  We are so grateful that you had faith in our abilities.  You deserve the credit for pursuing good design, even through multiple hurdles.  We'd love to work with you again soon.

Topics: Projects

The city of Eindhoven as a music score for piano

Apr 21, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

It's a kind of player piano that reads the city like a score.  The music it creates is not "harmoious" per se, but then again, what city is?  The analogy of architecture as music and vice versa has always been a source of fascination.  Goethe was quoted as saying "Architecture is 'frozen music'… Really there is something in this; the tone of mind produced by architecture approaches the effect of music."

Device above: 'stadsmuziek' at Milan Design Week 2011 by Akko Golenbeld

Topics: Architecture, Art

Newest Love: Dry-Erase Paint

Apr 13, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Don't throw your food.  Don't kick the seat in front of you.  Don't run by the pool.

Life is full of Don'ts.  That's why I love it when we can move a Don't-Do item to the To-Do list.

So let your imagination wander.  DO draw all over ANY surface painted with IdeaPaint, a dry-erase paint that only needs one coat.

One last Don't to add to the Don't-Do list:  Don't let the edges of dry-erase boards and paper pages hamper your creativity.

Join us in helping Japan

Mar 15, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

In the aftermath of the recent earthquake :

We are doing research to see how we can assist in the rebuilding of stricken areas.  In the mean time, OFA has donated money to the Red Cross on behalf of our firm.  If you feel the urge to help, please donate your time or money to allow the Red Cross to help those with immediate needs.  Contributions can start as low as $10.

Topics: Life

Spatial Beauty Secrets

Mar 3, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

I follow quite a few blogs, and they can be roughly divided into these categories:

  • architecture
  • business
  • design/fashion
  • food/cooking/eating
  • parenting

I just wrote down those categories in order of professional importance, but in reality, the ones I read first are from the three bottom categories, and I make it back up to the top of the list when I have time.  (That's just between you and me.) In all of my readings, what gives me the most happiness is when these categories cross over, and fashion blogs talk about architecture, or parenting blogs talk about food.  The kitchen below is from one of those crossovers.

I liked that this kitchen photo was paired with a photo of the latest bag from American Apparel.  There's a sensibility that we can all appreciate, whether it's fashion or architecture. So, here are some things I have learned from this photo, which you can adapt to your kitchen (or any other room).  Just like you would take that bag and pair it with your favorite shoes.

  1. you can mix new architecture (clean lines, minimal details) with traditional elements (architectural details, vintage furnishings, salvaged pieces) if the architecture can act more as a backdrop or canvas.  The space should be light-filled, and clean, but neutral and flexible.
  2. identify the predominant colors in the room, and stick with 2-3 of them.  Use accent colors as needed, but the rest of the "field" should be a concept of 2-3 colors.  For the kitchen above, the predominant colors are black and white.  Notice that even the floor is white.  Wood/brown is the third color, but only used as a grouped accent color.
  3. even an open kitchen can look clean if you group similarly colored items together.  Pots, pans, furniture - keep them grouped and compact, as if they are one larger piece.

Try it on a room in your house, and let me know how it goes.

Topics: Architecture

Do you want a slide in your house?

Feb 25, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Stairs to go up, slide to go down.  (of course you can use the stairs to go down, too).  It's not the slide per se, but the idea of a little playfulness in the design.  Do you want a slide in your house?  Thank you Mike, for sharing this fun project with me.

by LEVEL Architects
Topics: Architecture

Why don't you come up sometime and see me?

Feb 11, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Our "new" business name is now emblazoned on our Portland office window.

We share our space with other creative officemates, all of whom are fun to be around.

I can't tell fortunes but I can serve up some tea.  Stop by when you're in the neighborhood - we share the building with Olympic Provisions, too.

Topics: Office

Fresh Press - Modern Geometry in North Portland

Jan 20, 2011 by Hiromi Ogawa

Happy New Year everybody!  Sorry about the extended silence over the holidays.  Let's start the new year off with some press on one of our recent projects.

photo by Randy Rasmussen
Topics: Press, Projects

Nagging energy questions, answered

Dec 15, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

Porch lights are great, especially during Halloween.

Ever wondered how much it costs you to leave your computer or porch light on all night?  Here's your answer. Cliff Notes: Turn computer off when not in use, you're bleeding money even if it's in sleep mode.  Leave porch light on (it does wonders for neighborhood safety) but use a compact fluorescent (and a timer, too - then it turn off in the morning and you don't even have to think about it).

Topics: Life, Materials

Colors, Textures, and Light

Nov 17, 2010 by Hiromi Ogawa

We are very happy with the photos Joe Fletcher took of our recent project in Albany, California.  He really captures the concepts that we considered during the design process: colors, textures, and light.

The stair well to the new second floor features a tall window, almost floor to ceiling, with operable awning windows for natural ventilation.  You can see the sun beaming through and illuminating the first floor.

Clean edges and asymmetry give a modern look, while wood keeps it feeling grounded and timeless.

We made sure that the differing wood species on the custom kitchen cabinets didn't clash with the details of the open dining room.

Black and red were used to articulate the kitchen.  The black toekick, a pretty standard detail in our projects, is effective in making the cabinets look less heavy, particularly when the cabinet and the floor are similar finishes.  Windows between the counter and upper cabinets provide a sliced and framed view of the yard.

A floor-to-ceiling window in the kitchen lets in a lot of light and separates the full height pantry wall from the counter space.  A lowered marble top is used for baking.

The upstairs bathroom has two high awnings and a skylight, all providing lots of natural light while maintaining privacy.  White cabinets and walls keep the room bright, and allows room for bold and darker colors to be used playfully in an otherwise compact room.

You can also view these photos and other projects on our Facebook page.

Topics: Projects