“It never felt right,” he begins, “that a client should choose me – my work – and get anything less than one-hundred percent of me. From the first sketch to the finest adjustment on a set of plans.” These words began a sacred departure that took him down a rarely traveled path in the world of architecture. Away from his beginnings in large design corporations. Away from the residential firm he built. Away from the relentless pursuit of “more” and “bigger.” Away from the accepted path to architectural success. To right here. An intimate studio at the end of a farm lane, surrounded by a grove of old hardwoods and infused with pieces of his own history.
That pivotal choice – to embrace fewer projects, to return to a more personal approach, to refine his craft, and give it everything he had – would yield a rich harvest that even he did not anticipate. In the process of indulging his desire to provide a passion-driven personal experience, he dove deep into the intrigue of the life-long (sometimes generations-long) journey that brought each client to his studio, where they sat, preparing him to design something that was much more significant than just a beautiful place to live. It was there, in getting to know the values, victories, and heartaches of the people who would live and move within the homes he designed, that he unearthed the hidden passion that had long kindled his love of architecture. “It’s about story,” he says, revealing his secret. Story, he discovered, is the fertile soil where beauty takes root and is nourished with significance and purpose.
Steve Kemp is a raconteur in the medium of architecture, and he skillfully wields its richly endowed forms and intricately curated details. From the moment the first line is penned on blank paper, the story begins to unfold. The way a home emerges from its surroundings tells a story. The soft curve of a rough stone arch tells a story. Passageways, openings and doors tell stories. Carefully crafted drawer pulls tell stories. Saw-scarred wood nestled snugly in sleek steel beams tell stories. Thoughtfully woven together, they tell one magnificent story. “What I’m looking for,” he says, pausing reflectively, “are people who find value in their story, and who welcome the idea of letting their home tell it. That’s what this is about. That’s my passion. That’s what I do.”
Steve’s practice honors the old ways by resurrecting principles of architecture’s rich history. He is relentless in his consideration of the details, and in communicating those efficiently to the team of artisans who skillfully bring his designs to life. With obvious affection, he describes his work as “a return to a time when a home was a prized member of the family – special – and the people who built it were talented craftsmen.”
His passion for the avant garde is anchored in the timeless aesthetics of classical architecture. “I love to blend the old with the new in unexpected ways, consistently challenging the status quo.” But, the ways of classical architecture are never abandoned, so that what you end up with is something entirely new, yet already an heirloom.
If you’ve read Steve’s story, you already know his love for homes that tell stories with every piece of their being. Every design bears a sense of precious rarity; it expresses the uniqueness of the people who live and move inside its carefully crafted spaces.
But more than that, his passion for a relationship driven experience extends deeply into the design process. It remains intensely personal. He sketches the very first lines. He makes the most exacting final plan revisions. And he pens every choice in between.