Charles Debbas Featured in Luxe Magazine

February 7, 2018 5:59 pm by

The following is an interview with Charles Debbas, parts of which are excerpted in the latest issue (Jan/Feb 2018) of Luxe Interiors + Design:

LUXE MAGAZINE: What is the most important element to keep in mind when designing the exterior architecture of a new home? Is it the site? The surrounding architecture?

CHARLES DEBBAS: Sensible architecture cannot dissociate itself from the site, the setting, the environmental conditions, materials, the clients’ lifestyle and, off course, common sense. Design should be all encompassing from the minute pen is laid on paper. The main goal is to make sure that the lines between exterior and interior spaces are blurred and that the flow and unity throughout is achieved seamlessly. It is essential to engage all these elements simultaneously as they not only define good architecture, but also lay the ground for stimulating what makes us human. Structures are just that…innate. Fold in natural lighting, proportions, sensible materials, landscaping, scent, touch and everything that engages the life within, you then have Architecture. All the while striving for timelessness through understatement and trends resistance. The most important traits of great Architecture for me are humility and restraint. One of my favorite quotes to describing the essence of great design:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine De Saint Exupery

LM: What is your favorite material to design with lately and why? What impact does it bring to a home?

CD: We are so fortunate to live in an era of innovation in every field. Some materials available for architecture today are so beautiful, sensible, and exciting, that reverting back to choices, methods and ways of the past, I believe, robs clients and Architecture of a wealth of opportunities, new possibilities and resources. Without needing to jump on the “green” bandwagon, I have, over the past decade, tried to use these materials on all my projects. Not only can we not afford to think of the consequences of ignoring our environment anymore, but these materials offer options and choices that exponentially stretch the limits of ones imagination. Some are more costly upfront than traditional mainstream offerings, but the main benefits of most, like resin fiberboard or cement fiber board “skins” or porcelain wood grain flooring, are their lack of required maintenance as well as their durability.

LM: Is there a historical architecture trend that you’ve seen begin to make a resurgence? What is it and why?

CD: Yes. Mid-century architecture is finally getting the recognition it deserves. In it simplicity and humility it focused its attention on, and elevated, its dialogue with the site, the landscape, natural lighting and efficiency of space. It did not claim to be more than it offered. After decades of architecture decadence or plagiarized design, we are seeing a return of its attributes. Yes, some will take it to extremes, but I believe that the trend is leaning towards possibly smaller but more engaging homes. Homes that better offer indoor/outdoor living and homes that better interpret how we now live and our new realities and environmental challenges. Thought, just a few years ago, to be “disposable,” mid-century homes are gaining appreciation and are now serving as great inspiration for many.

LM: What are homeowners asking for now? Are you getting more requests for modern or traditional residences? What is the appeal of each?

CD: The trend is definitely shifting away from traditional Architecture and leaning aggressively towards the contemporary. (The word modern means different things for different people.) How can you expect a high tech world to live in a different Architectural century. That does not mean that one should not tap into the familiar. The challenge is achieving the familiar through innovative and creative means. The appeal of traditional Architecture lies in the comfort it offers many. It is also a way to avoid exploring the unknown or engaging in a leap of faith Journey requiring trust and patience. On the other hand, people who gravitate towards more contemporary architecture, see the journey as an opportunity to create something unique, soul enriching and in tune with the parameters of an ever changing world.

LM: What is the most important element of successful interior architecture? What is key to establishing the perfect floor plan?

CD: Other than the obvious great kitchen for those who cook or bathrooms that elevate the experience to a ritual…openness, flow and unity. It is also important that the interior does not feel like an island isolated from the site. Scents from a garden, the warmth of sunlight, a gentle breeze, a framed view are only a fraction of what one can bring in from outside to better adorn an interior naturally. Other key elements are coordination of colors, fabrics, furniture, artificial lighting, wood works…in ways that offer a sense of quiet well-being.

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