British-born architect, Gary Leivers, lives in his dream home in San Diego: The Salomon Building – a 31-unit mid-century design commissioned to local modernist architect Henry Hester in 1958.
While the building sits in an urbanised area, it directly faces Balboa Park, creating a direct relationship with nature. The ground-breaking design introduced features such as floor-to-ceiling windows to break down the threshold of inside and outside.
Subtle differences in each apartment through many intricate details show the masterfulness of the design – details that continue to surprise and delight its proud custodian who sits with his French Bulldog, Louie, in their 1113 square foot (103 square metres) apartment. A testament to the enduring appeal of the sublime architecture, Gary muses: "It's still a delight more than six decades later. What more can architecture do than be a continued gift to the people who experience it?"
As Principal in a large architecture firm, Gary specialises in working on buildings that are technology-oriented, enjoying the complexity of creating something simple from something complex. The draw of this mindset mirrors his leanings towards the ingenious simplicity of finely edited architecture and design – the signature of mid-century modernism.
Sharing his thoughts on what draws him specifically to mid-century design and minimalism, Gary says, "It's the idea of the essence of what you need. There's a strong desire to accumulate and accumulate, and I think being an editor of your work and living space is essential – to get down to the essence of the tools you need for life: a chair to sit on, a vase for flowers. You don't need ten of them. And that's why I think that when you buy something, you should be very mindful about it.”
“It's the same with buildings”, he continues. “It's incumbent on you as the custodian of that design to be mindful so that we're not living with something that looks dated or has fallen victim to trends. So what I’m concerned with is not a style, but more of a 'how do you solve the problem' mindset, and let the aesthetic be a by-product of that, which I believe is a very Scandinavian tradition."
In the airy living room sits a dark blue Series 3300™ sofa by Arne Jacobsen. Facing it in eye-catching colour contrast is a Swan™ in warm orange. In the bedroom by the window, an Egg™ chair. Gary shares why he selected these Arne Jacobsen pieces:
"What I like about the classic pieces is that they touch the ground so elegantly. They're simultaneously functional pieces of furniture but feel like art because they're elevated on stands that allow the air to pass underneath and give them a floating feeling.
Aside from being sculpturally beautiful, I've always revered Arne Jacobsen – as do most architects. It's ironic he didn't build that many buildings. His major contribution was furniture, and it is absolutely timeless. He almost defined what it means to be timeless because people use his furniture in sci-fi movies, and they use it in mid-century period settings, and how many pieces of furniture can you say that about?"