Outdoor at its core.

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Photo by Tim Porter.

From his earliest memories to now, architect David Hertz has had two passions: building things and surfing. The former became his career; the latter brought him to Indonesia and forever shaped his work. Located in Venice, California, the house he designed for his family celebrates his “Balinese modern” approach. Rather than have outdoor areas surround the house, Hertz had the house surround a central outdoor area. A twist on indoor-outdoor living, this is more outdoor-indoor living since the courtyard is the hub around which all other rooms revolve.

Grid Sectional, Vitra Cork Stool and Ball Portable LED Lamps. Photo by Jim Bastardo.

While still in school, Hertz worked in the office of architect John Lautner, who was drawn to the young student’s ideas because “you’re not ruined yet by education.” He later earned his degree in architecture from SCI-ARC, followed by an internship with Frank Gehry. He also did work for Ray Eames who rewarded him with an authentic Eames splint, which is displayed proudly in his living room. In 1984, Hertz founded his own firm, Syndesis, now known as the Studio of Environmental Architecture or S.E.A. A decade later he began designing his Venice home.

Grid Chaise and Uma Sound Lantern. Photo by Jim Bastardo.

This house, which consists of four buildings connected by three bridges, evolved in two phases, seven years apart. When the first house was completed in 1996, there was another house right next door and the idea a future expansion wasn’t even on Hertz’s radar. The fact that the second phase, completed in 2003, feels like it was part of the plan from the beginning is evidence of this architect’s talent. The uninterrupted sight lines throughout the entire property are especially impressive given how the house evolved.

Photo by Gwendolyn Horton.

The entire structure “is all about natural light and ventilation,” says Hertz. “I used glass to liberate the architecture.” He also challenged himself to make this house as green as possible. Solar panels, recycled and FSC-certified materials, and a whole-house passive ventilation system are just a few of the environmentally responsible features of this property. Maintaining a connection to the environment was especially important for how his children experienced the house. Now adults and living elsewhere, they grew up without window blinds and bedroom doors because their father wanted them to wake up to the sun and see stars at night. “The house definitely shaped who they are today,” he says.

When I asked Hertz if he would trade this house for the Stahl House in Hollywood Hills, he didn’t even think about it. The answer was a solid “no.”


P.S. If the house looks familiar, that might be because it was the set for the first two seasons of the Showtime series Californication. It’s also one of the locations where we shot our April catalog.