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.


How Ordinary Materials Can Create Extraordinary Textures by Lisa Town

Here at Atelier Drome, part of the regular design process involves creating a board of inspiration images which means we are always on the look out for new ways of using materials to create beautiful spaces and structures as well as solve design issues. Sometimes the difference between creating something truly unique that fits the character of the space does't involve the use of new and advanced materials but rather using an otherwise ordinary material in an extraordinary way to create an entirely new experience.

For a residential building in Tehran, the material of choice for Admun Studio is brick which is a typical material used throughout Iran. The design team was brought on after the structure itself was completed and they were left to resolve several issues through the design of the façade. They describe the need to “provide maximum privacy yet fulfilling other features such as moderating light, limiting view from outside, organizing chaotic experience of the terraces and decreasing high-traffic neighborhood noise” that lead them to the artistic design of a modulating textural surface. Using these simple materials in a new way, the surface not only solves several issues at once but creates a unique visual piece in the neighborhood

Images © Mehdi Kolahi

Repetition is often the key to creating what looks like a new material by way of using a simple smaller piece multiple times that is then transformed into a larger surface structure. In Japan, Kengo Kuma & Associates did just that with a Starbucks location. The design sought to marry a new, modern space with the surrounding design aesthetic of traditional Japanese structures by using “a unique system of weaving thin woods diagonally.” The result is not only unique but creates kind of a vortex that feels as though it wants to suck the passerby into the café and possesses that dynamic energy that goes beyond just creating visual cues or leading lines intended to draw people inside.

images © Masao Nishikawa

In Spain, the simple material of wooden sticks is used as well but takes on an entirely different character designed by Ideo Arquitectura. This time, the surface takes on a softer feel as the ceiling of a bakery that is in a long narrow space lined with old, exposed brick that would otherwise feel like a dark cave. Instead, the sculptural ceiling guides visitors in and creates an almost glittering surface and reinforces the overall brand of the shop while creating visual interested that works with the highly textural existing walls without clashing or completely dominating them.

images © Imagen Subliminal

Small Spaces | Big Impact by Lisa Town

Each September, all corners of the globe participate in an event called Park(ing) Day, a worldwide experiment in reclaiming public space. Rebar in San Francisco launched the event as a statement on the use of public space. Their one pop-up park was on display for a mere two hours – all the time the meter would allow. Unknown to them at the time was just how much people would embrace the concept, and what first began as an intervention has since exploded into a world-wide event, with some cities even allowing for multi-day installations. The movement has even spurred the implementation of permanent parks designed and maintained by private entities in the public domain for public use. There projects have many names: parklet, streetseat, micro park, people spots, to name a few. And here in Seattle, a new typology has recently emerged called a Streatery. This new idea marries an outdoor eating space with one of these parking space parks. Picture a fixed-location food truck with seating or an extension of a nearby established restaurant that resides where there was once a parked car.

As outdoor space in our cities becomes more and more scarce and the desire to make our streetscape more interactive — outdoor spaces where people can find respite from the concrete jungles as well as enhance public safety with more eyes on the street — people are exploring every possible angle to bring additional public space to the urban realm. What Park(ing) Day started was a revolution for people to look at the use of our public space more critically and consider the needs of the surrounding community. Today, these parks, both permanent and temporary, have taken on a wide range of looks and usage, well beyond the simple days of a park being little more than some grass, a tree and a bench.

What follows are a few inspiring examples of parks in the public space. First up is a micro-park project in London by WMB Studios called Parked Bench that converted two parking stalls into a bright, sculptural seating element from simple and inexpensive off-the=shelf materials that catches the eye. Both artful and functional, this park space offers comfortable seating for individuals, houses an air quality monitor and acts as a buffer between the pedestrian zone and the busy street. 

 photography by Ed Butler and Mickey Lee

In San Francisco, the birthplace of this movement, Interstice Architects designed the Sunset Parklet which looks like an undulating deck with pieces that rise up out of the ground for seating, both for small groups and community gatherings along with tables, spaces for native planting and an area that flattens out to provide bike parking. Inspired by the striations created through water and land, this parklet brings a natural feeling environment to an urban setting that provides much needed space for people.

  photographs and imagery courtesy of Interstice Architects

In Boston, Interboro designed two projects to kick off the parklet pilot program with the transportation department. Both are created with a simple yet smart movable block system they've called ad-bloc made from durable rotomolded plastic that are easy to configure and low maintenance. With only two pieces - a block and a cylinder - endless configurations and designs for seating, eating and greenery are possible and easily configurable for any size space. The blocks bright colors and fun, child-like appearance akin to giant legos, this system appeals to adults and kids alike.


 photographs and imagery courtesy of Interboro

This year’s event takes place in Seattle on Friday, Sept. 15 and we’re excited to participate. Stayed tuned for coverage of our own installation as well as the spaces we find inspiring from 2017!

march's featured project by Claire Grotz

Our clients have lived on a 1,500 square foot houseboat for years. The houseboat is where they raised their children but they are now ready for an upgrade. Designing a houseboat for them presented some unique challenges since new houseboats aren't allowed. Therefore, this was designed to take the place of the existing houseboat where it matches the exact size, footprint, and height of the pre-existing home. 

Space is utilized with lots of built ins to fit a living space, office, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms comfortably. Niches between the float framing act as storage for kayaks and other items. Because construction was done on a float, builders were not able to use a level and precise fabrication was done off site and installed on the boat as a unit. 

Plenty of skylights and windows take advantage of the surrounding natural light and views. Cedar screens were installed at the perimeter of the float to create private outdoor spaces while radiant heated flooring keeps the inside cozy. The houseboat is being built in Ballard and will then be brought to it's final home of Lake Union this month. The previous houseboat has been donated and will sit on land in its next life. 

history of the floor plan by Claire Grotz

One of the most gratifying aspects of our job is to customize spaces for our clients, the most intimate being those in the home.  The first thing we ask a client to do when we set out to create a home for them is to fill out a questionnaire. It is designed to structure the get to know you process, and our goal in writing it is to understand how our clients live in the spaces they have, and more importantly, how they want to live in the spaces we have been hired to create. We encourage our clients to take some time with it, because it goes beyond the quantitative questions such as number of bedrooms, or desired square footage frequently used to define scope, and asks more qualitative questions to really understand how those spaces or that square footage will be used (who cooks? Where do you eat? how frequently to do you host overnight guests?) Because while two clients might each respond that they need three bedrooms, or a large kitchen – the way they envision using those spaces, and therefore the way we approach their design, is unique to them.

When we finish the questionnaire phase we have a list of spaces that will be important in the home, as well as a sense of the way those spaces relate to each other for our client. The list is made up of basics: cooking space, living space, bathing space and sleeping space, as well as “extras” such as outdoor space, formal dining space, work space, storage space, play space, media space etc. And most of the time these functions fit into rooms with familiar names and descriptions – cooking space is in the kitchen, sleeping space is divided in to a number of bedrooms, etc. But the compartmentalization of home life into these rooms is actually very recent, and specific to our time and place. Each of these rooms has a rich and ever evolving history –while we have always needed a place to sleep, or eat, the way that we do those things is ever changing and therefore the spaces dedicated to them change as well.  Bill Brysons “At Home” and Lucy Worsley’s “If Walls Could Talk” are a great introduction to the history of life in rooms. Many room names are quite old but have completely different functions than the space originally defined by that name, such as the kitchen or hall- others have virtually disappeared such as the parlor, or scullery- and some, like a media room or master bathroom are very new.

The original room was the “hall” which we now only include where necessary for circulation, and often don’t even consider as a room of its own right. But until as recently as the 15th century the hall was the most important, (and at first, the only!) room in the house. The word “hall” is 1600 years old, when it referred to a large barn like structure that functioned as kitchen, bedroom, dressing room, living room, (and barn!) in one- the original open floor plan.  The room was therefore designed to afford complete flexibility- the only fixed feature would have been a centrally located hearth for cooking, light, and warmth. Furniture would have been kept to a minimum, with shared bedding laid out only at night and put away during the day (a typical bed size for a family might have been 9’x7’). An early dining table would have actually been a board, hung on the wall when not in use (also the origin of the term “room and board”). The concept of privacy in the early home was therefore nonexistent- rather, all life was carried out communally.

With time other rooms were added, such as the chapel, kitchen and sleeping chambers. The addition of new rooms was made possible by the invention of the chimney in the 1300s which funneled smoke out of the house, for the first time allowing the space above head height to be breathable and therefore occupiable. The first room to move upstairs was the bedroom, in the form of the ”great chamber” which was the first private space for the family, separate from guests or servants. The first bedrooms would have been shared by the nuclear family, often in one bed. They were used not just for sleeping but also for entertaining or eating in a more intimate setting. The bedroom didn’t become a dedicated room just for sleeping until the 1600s. Even then, it wasn’t yet considered a private space, evidenced by the fact that most bedrooms were accessed from each other rather than a corridor. The desire for privacy from other household members wasn’t adopted until later- As literacy rates increased, people began to enjoy and value time spent alone. Interestingly, the first space designed for privacy was not the bedroom or bathroom, but the closet. The original use of the word “closet” referred to a small room off of the bed chamber more similar to a study than a storage space, where the occupant might pray or meditate and where the owner might store small collectibles or art- also one of the first spaces to feature an interior lock. And while todays closets are generally utilitarian, the original “closets” would have had some of the most personalized decor.

The chimney was equally impactful in creating a separate kitchen – and whereas early censuses actually counted the number of hearths rather than people or houses, once the hearth was no longer required to be in the center of the home as a heat source it was quickly moved to a less prominent part of the home and many times actually stood as a structure separate from the home. Cooking was done over a fire, while baking was typically done outside the home in a communal oven. The kitchen stayed a hidden and undecorated space in middle and upper class homes until after the early 20th century when household sizes decreased, and therefore cooking was done by the “mistress of the house” for her own family rather than by employed staff. Different from today’s multifunction and often quite expensively finished kitchens, a kitchen in a 1920s home would have been for cooking only- dining, dish storage, entertaining, would have been in separate rooms. And a mid nineteenth century kitchen would not have even had a sink – the cleaning and cooking functions were considered separate, and the cleaning would have been done in a separate room called the scullery. 
kitchen at mount vernon, 1860
1939 model kitchen 

1911 catalog kitchen

Baths date back to the Roman Empire, but in a very different form than we bathe today. Almost more important than their hygienic function, Roman baths were opportunities for socializing, carried out outside the home, and very much in public. With the rise of Christianity people adopted a more modest approach to bathing, but the labor involved in carrying water, let alone heating it, for a private bath was so great that most people actually bathed very infrequently. The bathroom as a dedicated and private space within the home is only as old as plumbing – previously bathing would have taken place using portable pitchers and basins carried into the bedroom. The “en suite” bathroom actually began in hotels, the first being Cape May, New Jersey’s Mount Vernon Hotel in 1853. It was slower to catch on in private homes because they frequently lacked the pressure to bring the water upstairs (London’s first pipes were actually made of wood, later replaced with iron). The first private bathrooms were utilitarian, more akin to mechanical rooms than today’s often spa-like master bathrooms, and had to be tucked into existing spaces wherever they could fit. As a result the sizes of bathrooms, and their fixtures, were far from standard (Bryson cites a bathtub so big a stepladder was needed to get into it, and a shower large enough for a horse). Porcelain enamel tubs were the first to be considered attractive – prior versions might have been made of zinc, copper or cast iron. By 1940 fixtures had become more or less standardized, and affordable - an entire bath suite (sink bath and toilet) could be purchased for $70.

While all rooms are really living rooms, “living rooms” in the sense of the word today were the creation of leisure time, and in America the term was only coined around the mid-19th century. Predecessors to the living room, such as the parlor date all the way back to 1225 where it was used to describe a room where monks could go to talk (derived from the French word “parler”) but were only seen in homes for the wealthy. A new urban middle class emerging in the 17th century was the first time that anyone but the wealthy had time for leisure, and need of an impressive space to host guests. Dedicated dining rooms only came about in the mid-18th century as a result of the widespread adoption of upholstered furniture, as a way of preventing stains from eating.

As technology makes domestic life easier, and careers and school tend to keep people away from home during the day, homes are increasingly our centers for privacy, leisure, and relaxation.  Average household size in the west has gone from 5.8 members in 1790 to 2.6 in America today, making it possible and desirable to create more private spaces for individual retreat within the home, as well as social spaces geared more toward relaxation and entertaining. But of course the floor plan will continue to evolve, and the popularity of the tiny house movement, an appreciation for minimalism and open plans, and renewed interest in sustainability suggest that maybe we still have something to learn from the original room, the “hall”.
1799 duplex
1925 house plan
1910 apartment plan
Bill Bryson “At Home”
Lucy Worsley “If Walls Could Talk”
NYPL Digital Library