Modernist architecture is a design language with an emphasis on form rather than ornament, structure and materials rather than embellishment and the rational and efficient use of space. Generating buzz in Victoria for his über modern architecture, Designer Ian Roberts, principal of Flashhouse, is a purist in every sense of the word. With a Master of Architecture from Arizona State University and a LEED accredited professional with ten years of construction experience, Roberts’ design philosophy is simple: narrow your wishlist down to the ‘the rule of three’ and create your home from the inside out.
Designing and building in some of Victoria’s most established neighbourhoods, Roberts is making a statement with his simple forms defined by long simple lines, few walls, flat roofs and large expanses of glass that seamlessly connect the interior to the landscape. As seen in his recent ‘desert modern in the rainforest’ design, Roberts’ modernist homes not only reflect the way his clients seek to live in the 21st century, but they leave behind a physical record of our desires for the future.
How long have you been working in architecture and design? I went right into design/build after I graduated with my Master in Archictecture. That was almost thirteen years ago. I’ve worked both in construction and in architecture firms, but neither one held my interest on its own. I really need to draw it and then build it. I am coming up to four years since I started Flashhouse and I’ve never looked back. I did my training in the desert and started my career in a firm whose business model was to hire only architectural graduates for project managers. The attention to detail that we brought to the process has always stayed with me.
How would you describe your own design sensibility or aesthetic? I’m a modernist; rigorously so. Without going into all the academic definitions, I believe in most of what the early modernists believed — that a building should have everything it needs to function and nothing more. And just as importantly, beauty comes from that. It is something you can feel. If you stand in the courtyard of The Salk Institute in California or in will bruder’s (lower case intended) Phoenix library or in Mies Van der Rohe’s TD Centre in Toronto, something affects you, it takes hold. That’s what fuels me.
What does modern architecture look like in Victoria’s terms? Certainly, in the past few years, there has been an increasing popularity in contemporary design with the advent of Dwell magazine, Design Within Reach and Houzz. It has brought the ‘modern curious’ out and has certainly made all of it more accessible to everyone. The interest in modern architecture is growing for sure. Because it’s all I do, I really have no basis for comparison to other styles. The people who seek me out as a designer are very committed and loyal to modernism and I can happily say I’m busy because of it.
What can we expect to see coming out of Flashhouse in the near future? We have four new projects in the works and two more on the boards. These are all family homes; I am really interested in how a family ‘lives modern.’ I’ve been fortunate to live in three modern homes with my family of five, including our current one. One of the most rewarding things I get to see is how children occupy spaces, some of which are intentionally designed and some of which are appropriated. The trick is to observe the appropriated ones and work them into the next design.
Can you speak to your current rebrand at Flashhouse? We have done a full rebranding and new website with the capable eye of Neil Tran and his talented crew at Leap XD. Ideally, I would have come out of the gate with this level of web and print presence, but I had to pace myself as a new company. Everything about the direction we have taken speaks to our beliefs and the way we represent both ourselves and our work. Flashhouse is a company of makers and that is very legible with the new brand. Clients and prospective clients who are interested in modern design will know immediately upon visiting our site that they are in the right place.