As a Tech Designer, I was trained to be objective, rational. It doesn’t matter whether or not you personally care for the designer’s vision, the job is to make it fit and get the factory to understand how how to construct it efficiently. I try to write objectively as well, for this blog. But I’m feeling overwhemingly emotional right now. ALS took the lives of 2 beautiful souls this week: my daughter lost her friend “Dogbomb”, and my husband and I lost the architect of 7 Pine Street, the extraordinary Jonathan Woodman. .Both men were gentle, kind to all, sometimes artistically controversial, dedicated to giving back to their communities by sharing their talents, relentlessly positive and optimistic, and widely respected and admired.
Because of Jon Woodman, I get to sew in a bright, airy, sunny studio that is larger than my entire apartment back in New York City…the apartment that I sold to buy this house in the suburbs. Visitors to our house are shocked to find a full-size work studio smack dab in the middle of a house. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am. I have separate tables for cutting, stitching, and serging! I never have to clean up to set the dinner table! How did I get so lucky?
25 years ago when my then-fiance and I were casually house-shopping, we told our real estate agent that we were in the market for something close to the water (we used to have a sailboat)….and something interesting. Different. A lighthouse would be ideal! He advised us that waterfront property was way out of our price-point but a water view, however distant, might be possible. He took us to some truly “interesting” places (read “fixer upper”)…and then finally to this absolutely typical “cape” cottage. We’d seen this type of house: cramped rooms with narrow doorways, low ceilings to hold in the heat during harsh New England winters, not much light.
And then we went inside. The typical tiny kitchen had been blown out and the roof cut open with brilliant skylights.
And hidden from the street-front view, in the back there was an art studio (the home-owners, already relocated to the west coast, were painters). There was an entire house extension, with a windowed tower that did, in fact, have a view of the bay. We were blown away. Peter left for the west coast on a business trip, and I made an an offer. Within a week I put my NYC co-op on the market. We were going to be homeowners! And getting married! What???
Fast forward to that Spring at the new-to-us house. I was sprucing up the front yard for our impending at-home wedding reception, when a couple walking down the street stopped to ask how we liked the house. You guessed it, the gentleman was our architect. Of course I gushed about how much we LOVED the house and felt thrilled to have found it! Being the amazing and thoughtful people that Jonathan and his wife Betsy are, they gave us a wedding gift of a framed blueprint of our house. It has faded over time, but we did find a set of plans in the attic.
The blueprints told the story. Jonathan had taken a little 2 bedroom 1 bathroom bungalow….plus the freestanding studio sitting in the back yard….and then connected them into a whole house suitable for comfortable living and entertaining and working. He infused the property with air and space and JOY.
If Jonathan hadn’t designed this extraordinary house, there would be no 7 Pine Design Studio. There would be something else I suppose, but would it have this light, this sense of space? Not likely. I just hope that we told him enough times, over the past 2 decades, how much we loved his work. How thankful we were.
So here’s to Jonathan, and Tony (aka Dogbomb) and all those bring joy to others while fighting for their lives. Thank you. We love you. We miss you.