Learning Curve: Architecture is Art by Atelier Drome

My second year in the Interior Design and Architecture program at University of Idaho was all about abstraction. The studio based its curriculum on discarding the notion that a building is a just a box. A building can be much more than just a box. Humans need to inhabit spaces that are much more than boxes to lead a healthy life since we spend about 93% of our time indoors (Environmental Protection Agency).

The Elements of Art are line, shape, form, value, space, color and texture. All of these can be used to make a space for humans to inhabit. Architecture isn’t only about simply making a space for humans to function properly in, though. It’s also about giving the user an experience to stimulate interest. Otherwise we would just live in boxes.

A growing body of research in cognitive science illuminates the physical and mental toll bland cityscapes exact on residents. Generally, these researchers argue that humans are healthier when they live among variety…or work in well-designed, unique spaces, rather than unattractive, generic ones
— Jacoba Urist, The Cut

Contrasting two different buildings will show how valuable art is to architecture:

Arts West, University of Melbourne

The free flowing, geometric form of the coffered timber roof and vertical arrangement gives visual interest while at the same time mediates natural daylight and assists natural ventilation. The texture of the wood that is scattered throughout the building gives a clean, natural and fresh feel to the space. Lastly, the open space in the center of the building allows for flexibility and balance to the rest of the turns and corners surrounding the rest of the structure.

Arts West1.jpg
Arts West2.jpg
While artists work from the real to the abstract, architects must work from the abstract to the real.
— Steven Holl, The Brooklyn Rail
Arts West3.jpg
Arts West4.jpg

Health Sciences Center, Louisiana State University

The form of this building is exactly what my second-year studio told me not to do: make a perfect boxed structure. The interpreted line that the small windows dotting the building make, make it feel like a prison from the outside: boring to look at. The color of the building is very bland and is the same throughout the exterior.

Louisina Health Sciences Center2.JPG
Louisina Health Sciences Center.JPG

images from Arch Daily; The Times-Picayune


Learning Curve is an ongoing series from the perspective of our interning students who are currently in school to become the world’s next generation of designers.  

This edition is by Jessie Macomber who is in her final year in a double major of Architecture and Interior Design at the University of Idaho and will be headed on to the Master of Architecture program next year. Her continuously curious mind and love of art drew her to the design profession, and she can often be found studying and sketching everything around her.  “I looked at Architecture and Design as something that took art and turned it into something practical – something that made an impact on how people lived their lives,” Jessie says of her decision to choose a path in design. Rounding out her love for the built world and art is the importance that she places on friends and family in her life and the impact that has on how she views the ways in which design can enrich lives and ultimately help bring people together.

Kyle Cook - "Excavated Landscapes" by Atelier Drome


We are excited to host artist Kyle Cook and his new collection, "Excavated Landscapes" in our gallery space from February 1 - March 31.  We also had the pleasure of working with the artist on the design of his studio which you can read more about on our Artist's Studio project page.

Show Statement

I believe the experience of the sublime in nature is a result of a multitude of emotions, truths, and stories being unearthed and simultaneously grappled with in our consciousness. Though we still feel small and powerless in relation to the forces of nature–its vastness and unpredictability–nature also mirrors back the tremendous power we have in reshaping and impacting the environment, climate, people, cultures, and wildlife. My interactions with the landscape are both a space for reflection and a catalyst for my imagination.

This body of work aims to depict its own creation, and I strive to deliver a moment in the process where the work feels independent, unfamiliar, and beyond my preconceptions. I begin with a series of gestural, automatic marks and diagrammatic lines, which establish a spatial framework that allows for painting and drawing to allude to, describe, and construct real and imagined forms in an envelope of atmosphere and light.

I’m continually questioning where forms and ideas exist on a spectrum between realism and abstraction; this often leads to the development of motifs, such as scaffold-like constructions, fishing nets, carbon dust-clouds, and geometric lines, many of which symbolize human impact and manipulation of the environment. Additionally, the creation of realistic works informs my understanding of space, scale and color . Much as the light or weather shifts, our relationship to the landscape is not fixed. I hope these paintings generate unique experiences of an environment that is layered and dynamic–altered, excavated and reimagined.


Kyle Cook + Atelier Drome

To let your eyes journey through one of Kyle Cook’s paintings is to venture on a transcendent tour of the impact nature has on our senses. When we first experienced Kyle’s work, we were struck by the sense of awe encapsulated within –– to look at them made us feel small, the same smallness that overcomes us when we take in nature’s wonders with our own eyes. But the process and vision behind Kyle’s brushstrokes take the work further, beyond an interpretation or retelling of that which remains unspoiled in our environment.

These pieces transpose the elements of form, line, color, and space to a point where they take on the singularity of a moment, one beyond the familiar, beyond –– as Kyle puts it ––preconceptions, and wholly independent. And in doing so, they share with us the skill and awareness of an artist in touch not only with the process that allows for vision to be effectively captured on canvas, but of how we have affected nature.

“I’m continually questioning where forms and ideas exist on a spectrum between realism and abstraction; this often leads to the development of motifs … many of which symbolize human impact and manipulation of the environment,” Kyle notes. This is an impact clearly seen in the straight lines and angles incorporated into some of the pieces, often as splashes of color, and one that for us at Atelier Drome resonated with how we are tasked with imposing our own constructed beauty and function in a space that nature holds. It speaks to the balance we all try to achieve in our work and in our lives, a balance that can be hectic to achieve, but one that nature, ultimately, created effortlessly.

Images below are from his opening reception during the First Thursday Pioneer Square Art Walk on February 1st.


More info can be found on Kyle Cook from his website at
Atelier Drome design for the Artist's Studio can be found in our portfolio.

Mya Kerner - "Piercing the Infinite Sky" by Lisa Town


We are excited to host local Seattle-based artist Mya Kerner

in our space this quarter from October through January. The opening reception for her latest new collection, "Piercing the Infinite Sky," will be during October's First Thursday Art Walk on Thursday, October 5th from 5pm - 8pm.

Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky,
Mont Blanc appears—still, snowy, and serene;
Its subject mountains their unearthly forms
Pile around it, ice and rock; broad vales between
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps,
Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread
And wind among the accumulated steeps;

Mont Blanc: Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni
Percy Bysshe Shelley


Show Statement

I regard the mountains as stoic icons reflected by mortality, records of the movements of the earth and the torrents of the sky. They represent a collision, or maybe, a collaboration of the elements and forces of life. Though continuously rising or falling, the mountains stand, silent, weighing on the shifting fragments of the earth, moving at an incomprehensible rate.

In these works, I depict geological disruptions, carved moments and parts within the landscape. Records of denudation captivate me, as these notes present a segmented image of the whole. Mountaintops stand crisp against a stark white, reaching for an infinite sky. Descending are scratched lines, which break through the slopes, while flecks of white dapple eroded surfaces, recalling cooler seasons. These finished pieces linger on the threshold of completion, for what memory is complete upon its conception? The image often disintegrates as it nears the base of the painting, referencing the deposition of mountain and mythos.

I approached these white panels with turbulent, yet restrained mark making. Mixing oil paint above and across graphite marks, I soften or exaggerate the contours of the landscape. In some areas, the imagery holds, stable, while across the scene, a moment of textural play denotes action, erosion or sliding, moving away from the sky, down to the chaotic base. My paintings depict the tranquility of nature, while whispering of unpredictably and grandeur far beyond human conception or control.

As the threats of a changing climate are reawaken our terror of the Sublime, we fear the loss of human constructs within the false façade of permanence. We are reminded, to Nature, the individual is irrelevant, lost to the vastness and susceptible to the ephemerality of being.


generativity by Claire Grotz

On Friday, September 23rd Fernanda D'Agostino's Suyama Space Installation of "Generativity" will take place at 5PM. This exhibit features a performance by Isabelle Choiniere; complete with sculpture, video projections, coding and sound. "Generativity" explores how nature shapes and regenerates itself and viewers of the exhibit find themselves in a constantly changing space. Come take in Fernanda D'Agostino's unique creation.

bringing inspiration to life: from mood board to reality by Claire Grotz

One of the first deliverables (and arguably one of the most important) of any design project is a mood board. This collection of inspiration images serves as a visual road map throughout the design process, allowing you and your designer to create a cohesive look & feel (concept) for your space. Inspiration images can be as abstract and seemingly unrelated to architecture as fashion, artwork, food or travel photography. Sometimes, the more unrelated the better as it allows for more creativity to design a truly unique and personalized space.  Below are a few inspiration images from a New England concept paired with ideas for how to relate them back to the final design.

To start, the color palette can be derived from one main inspiration image with the look & feel you are going for. Here, it is beachy, light, casual and clean, with lots of blues and soft neutrals.

For example, here we took the weathered wood look from a boat deck and used that as inspiration for the flooring.

Here the color & texture of nautical rope can appear in a chunky knitted throw.

The bathroom fixture on the right was inspired by nautical equipment, both in the design and finish.

The stripes on these boat covers can be referenced through the color and pattern of fabric choices.

By creating a comprehensive collection of inspiration images for the mood board, and referencing it periodically as the project progresses, you and your designer will be able to build a final design that clearly reflects your desired outcome for the space. If you have a future project in mind, I recommend gathering images as early in possible. That way you are ready to hit the ground running when it comes time to start the process. Happy collecting!