“…inclusive, hands-on, fun, introspective, inventive, and addictive. In the end we felt we owned the final design and had fully collaborated in the energizing creative process.”Read More
It has been our good fortune to work with John DeForest (DeForest Architects, da+) in the design of our new home, and the experience has been outstanding
John DeForest is unique in his approach to residential architecture. And it can be summed up in one word: process. His credentials as an architect are impeccable; his completed projects are striking, and span a broad range of styles, sizes and locations; his architectural firm is staffed by creative, savvy, inventive people; he understands all the issues of residential architecture such as site relationship, sustainability, human scale, use of light, and patterns of flow. But what separates him from other outstanding young architects is that he is totally committed to the value of process in design. He not only believes in it; he trusts in it. And there is the difference.
He has grounded his architectural values around one key principle: great design comes from client collaboration and engagement in the design process. He believes an architect’s professional experience and expertise should be used to undergird a process that actively solicits client input and recapitulates that input in the final design. For DeForest, the client input becomes a source of insight and discovery We, the clients, provide the pantry of food; he and his staff come up with the best creative meal with those ingredients.
Thinking back to the beginning of our project with DeForest, he gave us several “homework assignments” to get the design process started. An early one was called “spatial histories” in which we recalled all the places we had lived, and then described the five most memorable spaces in detail. Another exercise, called “first thoughts”, involved using language to describe the core values and feelings we wanted this project to reflect. We also played around with blocks, stacking and moving them around to begin to envision and understand complex spatial relationships. The DeForest process had begun, and it was inclusive, hands-on, fun, introspective, inventive, and addictive. In the end we felt we owned the final design and had fully collaborated in the energizing creative process.
The direction and guidance that John gave us at the beginning of the process has held throughout all phases of our project. We are in the rare situation of being able to state that we have not felt stress throughout the construction phase. And that is because John has continued to steer us, include us, shepherd us, and anticipate decisions ahead for us.
As a young architect John represents a trend we are seeing grow in many areas of our culture – whether it be professions (medicine, teaching), age groups (college graduates, retirees) or politics: a resurgence and endorsement of old values: listening, simplifying, trusting in collaboration, and firmly believing that it’s the journey, not the destination. There is a real desire for this type of authenticity, and John DeForest brings it to architecture.
Dr. and Mrs. Paul Fredlund
I had many friends bemoan this process. I feel so thankful because John and the contractors he recommended have made what could be a really frustrating experience much easier. Read More
“There are 3 basic skills you look for: project mgmt, design skills, and technical skills. It’s rare to find an individual like John who would get an A+ in each of these areas.
We initially hired John for a tear down project in Shoreline. I was very thorough and anal about selecting an architect. We talked to about 7 very famous architects in the Seattle (inc John) and had a very hard core screening process. John patiently answered all of our questions and more. Once we selected John, he made what I think is a very complicated planning process creative, fun and approachable. Throughout the project John demonstrated that he was more concerned about helping us create OUR dream house that would meet OUR needs and OUR budget. This was different than what we sensed from other architects who seemed to care more about us footing the bill for their dream project that could be featured in some home magazine.
We had such a great experience with John the first time, that we hired him again for a recent addition and remodel of our current house in Roosevelt. The designs John created for our master suite were magical and now we have a beautiful spiritual oasis that we can escape. We’ve had family and friends who are artists, designers, architects come in and they have all commented on the beauty, elegance, and comfort created by John’s plan. Plus, we came in budget and ahead of schedule.
Project management and problem solving is often the most frustrating process in a remodel. I had many friends bemoan this process. I feel so thankful because John and the contractors he recommended have made what could be a really frustrating experience much easier. I always felt supported with simple choices, concrete rational on decisions made, all of which made it easier to make decisions. Plus, John is an incredible team player and was always there to provide feedback on a timely manner.
I trust John implicitly and consider anyone who hires him to be lucky. In terms of remodeling project laughing and finding joy in all of it is the way to go. John’s sense of humor, personality, and incredible service were a huge asset.”
DA seemed much more practical and down to earth than other architects we had interviewed, but along with that approachable demeanor came an impressive portfolio.Read More
We stumbled upon DeForest Architects at the end of our search for an architect. Their philosophy really caught our attention: “People, Building, Ideas”. We were still torn about whether we wanted to even use an architect given our concerns about the cost, and we were almost ready to decide against using one, until we met John. He was the last architect we interviewed, and he really took the time and care to listen to our concerns (particularly about the pros and cons of using an architect). DA seemed much more practical and down to earth than other architects we had interviewed, but along with that approachable demeanor came an impressive portfolio. The idea of working with an architect seemed intimidating to us as we were venturing down new territory, but John instantly made us feel comfortable. He truly seemed to have our best interests in mind.
After we decided to work with DeForest Architects, we immediately knew that we had made the right choice. Jessyca and Meredith joined the team, and they were equally wonderful to work with. There are so many details and decisions that are involved in the process of remodeling, and we felt that every detail was closely attended to. They were not like many architects who put their own agendas ahead of the clients’ needs as John and Jessyca were very attentive to our every need and designed a remodel that has turned out beyond our dreams. They got it right with the first design. I still remember my husband and I sitting there when they revealed their idea for this huge window wall for the front of our house. It was “love at first sight!”.They even incorporated our cats’ needs into the remodel (how many people can say that?).
Another thing that we appreciated greatly was that “budget” was a word that they frequently used in their vocabulary! John and Jessyca are excellent communicators and were able to effectively convey their ideas-which is particularly crucial in this scenario. They effectively kept us on track with the project even when our ideas would get ahead of the stage of the project.
Above everything else, we feel like we have become part of the DeForest family. Now that we are expecting our first child and starting our own family, we feel like they have been there along the way, helping remodel and shape how our new family will live. They seem to truly enjoy their work for the right reasons, to help improve people’s lives, and it shows in their innovative but practical design (a tough balance to achieve!). Whether they like it or not, they will be receiving family Christmas cards every year from now on! Thank you DeForest!
Jennifer and Michael Shannon
…although you expect creativity from an architect, we have been pleasantly surprised to find just how creative architects can be.Read More
Finding the “perfect architect” to design our home was a daunting project, but one that we took head-on. Like many, we attended the AIA workshop and scanned through portfolios of what seemed like hundreds of architects, solicited names of architects from friends and colleagues, and spent countless hours online looking at more architects and their websites. Thereafter, we compiled a list of potential firms and methodically worked to schedule interviews and contact client references. Along the way, someone told us about John DeForest and his firm, DeForest Architects. Their tag line is “People. Building. Ideas.” It is no coincidence that “people” comes first in this tag line. In the end, what drew us to DeForest Architects had less to do with their impressive portfolio, and more to do with the people behind the building and ideas.
Above all, we were looking for someone trustworthy, a person who would act as our advocate. After all, we knew this would be a huge financial undertaking and it was extremely important to us that we work with an architect who would keep our best interests and goals in mind. DeForest Architects has consistently impressed us with their ability to do just this. John and Jessyca have really done a remarkable job of addressing and anticipating our needs, even when we did not know them ourselves.
Another aspect of the design process that we knew would be important to us was project management/communication. Given our personalities and professions, we knew that we would want frequent communication. For what can be seen as a highly creative process, we were immediately impressed with their structured budget tracking tools. Without fail, we receive copious, detailed notes memorializing our thoughts, discussions, and decisions after each of our meetings. John and Jessyca have been organized, thorough and professional. They both have a natural ease about them, and we have been able to talk openly with them about a wide range of topics. In return, John and Jessyca have been candid, responsive and supportive. All in all, DeForest Architects has exceeded our expectations with regard to its project management and communication.
In the end, it was the firm’s design process that made the biggest impression on us. The process includes a series of thoughtfully designed homework assignments used to spur discussion in an effort to better understand how we live, what is important to us, and what elements make for a design tailored to our needs. The homework assignments forced us to examine aspects about our personalities and perspectives, and contributed to designing a house that is “so Julie and Norman”. No other architect we interviewed dedicated as much energy into this process. Because we began this journey without a pre-conceived notion of what we wanted, these exercises proved to be most valuable to us.
Finally, although you expect creativity from an architect, we have been pleasantly surprised to find just how creative architects can be. DeForest Architects have found ways to do more with less: more with less budget, more with less space, and more in less time. Their creativity is magnified when constraints are placed upon them.
With over a year of hindsight vision, we can whole heartedly say using DeForest Architects was a wise decision. In the final analysis, we have jointly designed a home that works perfectly for us now and into the future. We have thoroughly enjoyed this adventure, and look forward to welcoming John and Jessyca into our new home as friends.
Norman and Julie Yee
I wanted to share our whole membership’s thanks for responding so beautifully to the vision we had for our new church home. Read More
“Just wanted to let you know that I LOVE the new church! We had our first service there this evening, and it was well-attended. Many of the testimonies were of member’s gratitude for the new church and how it seemed to express all of the ideas that we had wanted to express: light, beauty, peace, reflection.”
“Thank you so much for such beautiful work. I was in awe of the space, the windows, the garden, the brick wall, the beams….down to the carpet choice!!! It was just perfect. We are all excited to spend much more time in this new building….”
“I went to Church last Wednesday (our first service)…I can’t wait another day to tell you what a great job you have done. The members were thrilled! The brick wall, the peaceful garden, the functional rooms, the flow. It works! Thank you for the genius that you gave to that building and our congregation.”
“…It is a lovely job. That old brick wall in the auditorium is a jewel, so interesting it is hard to keep your eyes off it! I have heard many favorable comments about the design, and we are having full crowds. The garden idea was truly inspired. It makes the space really special, even lyrical. The celebration of light is wonderful. And the most charming of all, may be the preservation of an old space with its long history. The scruffy floor is a work of art in itself! Acoustically, I find the space very effective, certainly much better than the old Cedar Street location or the old cathedral up on the hill. “