In today’s world of pop-up, cookie-cutter McMansions, Sag Harbor-based architect Blaze Makoid is injecting something different into home design: the owner’s personality.
“In order to do it well, you really have to get deep into how they live and what their personalities are like,” Mr. Makoid said of his approach with clients during a recent interview in his office. “It gets very personal in order to make the house a good house.”
The first step in a new job requires investigative work on many different levels, he said.
Initially, he goes through a series of required exercises to understand what the physical limitations are of a given property in order to know what is possible. After determining the available options, Mr. Makoid spends time with his clients, really getting to know them. He wants to know what makes them happy, how they enjoy a typical day and how they relate to their family.
The way personality comes across in a home he designs is something the architect prides himself in, and is also what sets him apart.
“I don’t think our one project looks like the next, and looks like the next,” Mr. Makoid said. “They all have a very sort of modern aesthetic to them, but also the process of understanding how people live, which I feel is a modern way of looking at architecture as well, the process of it, not just the aesthetic.”
Mr. Makoid graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and has been practicing architecture ever since, he reported. He first worked for a small firm in Boston doing single-family, high-end residential projects.
Next, Mr. Makoid found himself in Philadelphia, where he was the Design Director for the Hillier Group, overseeing a team and completing large projects, such as universities and hospitals. He met his wife, Tracy Mitchell, the executive director of the Bay Street Theatre, there.
Soon, the couple was spending weekends in Sagaponack at Ms. Mitchell’s cottage. They married a week after September 11, 2001.
The commute to the East End was brutal, and they were ready to make a full-time commitment to live here, as well as to each other. After getting two small renovation/addition projects in the Hamptons, Mr. Makoid and Ms. Mitchell decided to sell their place in Philadelphia and move into the Sagaponack cottage to see how it would work out; that was 12 years ago.
“We were both ready to change the channel,” he said of the move to the East End.
Once in Sagaponack, the couple quickly began setting roots in the community. In turn, Blaze Makoid Architecture started growing, but in starting his own firm, the architectural entrepreneur had a new set of challenges to face: running a business, and getting back to residential architecture after years of institutional design.
“The immediate difference was that our clients really wanted to spend time with us, really wanted to be a part of the process,” Mr. Makoid said of his transition back to residential architecture.
When it comes to his current business, one of the challenges Mr. Makoid faces in personalizing a home design is getting the clients to picture what they want in the future, and to build that for them, while encouraging them to let go of parts of the past that they don’t want. It’s getting them to talk through the idea of a new house, if they live a certain way because of the house they are currently in.
“How do you really want to live?” Mr. Makoid said is the question he tries to answer through his designs.
He likens the process to solving a puzzle, a puzzle that goes through many steps of refinement. Through many meetings with the home owner, builder and consultants, Mr. Makoid is able to filter down what the client likes about a project and what they hate. This is why he feels it is important to have the builder, owner and architect all on board early, to form a cohesive team.
Over the last dozen years, the architect’s firm has grown considerably. The company now consists of 12 employees, including Mr. Makoid himself.
Project manager Raymond Renault said that it’s the teamwork that he really enjoys.
“I wanted freedom to work in a collaborative environment,.Here we all work together and feed off of each other,” Mr. Renault said.
The collaboration with known and trusted teammates, and having a superior knowledge of the landscape, is a must when it comes to good business, according to Mr. Makoid. In the past year, he has stopped accepting projects in Manhattan, he reported. Now the firm work strictly on the East End.
“I think if you’re not an expert there, and the same holds for out here, that your clients, as well as you, can kind of get taken advantage of,” Mr. Makoid said. “Here, no matter what the issue is, we know where to go.”
“We can be on a job site in 10 minutes and often are,” he continued. “We know who the builders are, the subcontractors, the attorneys, the land use guys, the building department, everybody now knows us which is really helpful.”
For more information, visit blazemakoid-architecture.com.