Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Olsen's book is a fascinating and unusual read. Unlike most tomes, it's not supposed to be spic and span, it's a warm and personal portrayal of man's continual need to build appropriate shelter for himself and his family. 

Richard Olsen documents the rich and often whimsical craft of Handmade Houses.

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Sam Lubell
Published: July 2012, The Architect's Newspaper

Interior of the Muennig House in Big Sur by Lucy Goodhart.
At first glance, one can already tell Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home Design, by former Architectural Digest editor Richard Olsen, is a different type of architecture book. While sharing the hefty weight and handsome visuals of other tomes, the book surprises readers with a personal, informative narration of a forgotten type of architecture and an intimate glimpse inside 23 homes from around the world.

A “handmade” house is perhaps the antithesis of the machine-made homes many of us know today. The movement blossomed in the late 1950s to early 1970s, with architects, untrained builders, and designers going into the country and making their own homes in protest against the turbulent events of the time. By turning their backs on the mainstream, they embraced pioneer architecture similar to old farmhouses. They used reclaimed materials and architectural salvage, imbuing each space with a distinctly human touch. They built with a pioneer spirit, away from the restrictive guidelines of building codes. [read more]


Get updates via RSS