Geometric feats of design and engineering:
These words may best sum up the rarefied residences created by Guy Dreier. The residential designer’s trademark organic modern style can be traced back to its earliest influencer: his father. Eduard Dreier, a Swiss architect, practiced Mies van der Rohe’s glass-and-steel minimalism, and Eduard’s son grew up in his dad’s office, drafting plans and winning school-sponsored contests at the age of 16. Now 58, Dreier has many more accolades to his name, including Robb Report’s Ultimate Home award, which he won in 2009 for designing a 32,000-square-foot estate in Palm Desert, Calif. The private resort communities near Palm Desert are home to a number of his masterworks, but his reach is actually far wider. Over the years his projects have ranged from beach houses in Hawaii to palaces in Saudi Arabia—and he is showing no signs of slowing down. With a host of projects set for completion in the next six months, and with more than a handful of others in various stages of development, Dreier still found time to sit down with Robb Report Home & Style and discuss how his unique designs take shape.
How has your style evolved over the years?
Technology and engineering have made more things possible, but when it comes to a style, mine has always been sculptural and organic. Lately, though, I have been doing more handkerchief-thin roofs to lighten a design.
What types of projects excite you?
I like the kinds of projects no one else wants to take. I like the skinny lots on top of a hill that no one thinks they can build on. I like a challenge. In one house in Palm Desert, the site was on top of a huge hill you could see from the golf course below. Everyone thought it would stick out like an eyesore, but it completely disappears from a distance.
Do you turn down certain jobs?
We’re a full-service firm with about nine employees. When we do the architecture, we also do the interiors and the landscaping, but we don’t do a lot of interior design or landscaping work on their own unless it’s for a repeat client. For instance, I did a home for one client who liked it so much, he wanted me to do the interiors of his development in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
What surprises people about your work?
My homes are really easy to live in and incredibly functional. They’re more organic and sculptural than just pieces of art you have to live in. The first thing I do with clients is sit down and listen to how they live and what their lifestyles are like. At this level, clients are very involved in the process. It’s not carte blanche. At the end of the day, the home has to work.
Living in Harmony
Whether a beach house in Maui or a mansion in the Middle East, a Dreier home always relates well with its site. “Before I design something, I consider why the homeowners bought that site,” he says. “What the client is like, where the sun is at the times of year they’ll be using the house, the terrain—these are commonalities you need to be aware of no matter where the home is.”
The residences Dreier designs are often peaceful retreats. Still, they tend to include some type of office environment, and Dreier has a way of creating work spaces that make the most of the time spent behind a desk. “Sometimes,” he says, “it’s about taking in a view; sometimes it’s about putting all of the things the client enjoys in one place.” For the owner of a Palm Desert estate, he created a detached space with 300-degree valley and golf course views.
Guy Dreier's Top 10:
I work constantly, but a great break for me is racing cars, like a Porsche GT3. When you’re going 180 mph on a track, there’s no time to think about anything else. It’s a really nice mental break for me.
My BMW X6 M.
It’s pretty casual in the desert, but I like Robert Graham shirts.
A classic stainless-steel Rolex Daytona.
I spend about 50 percent of my time out of town. Emirates is great, of course, but Oman Air is really up-and-coming. They’re spending a billion and a half dollars on a new airport, and they have great service and equipment.
For me that means not going too far. We have a house in Laguna Beach where we go to escape the desert heat. It’s very funky and relaxed with great views.
Not to be biased since I’m working on a project there now, but I really like the tranquility and landscape at Oil Nut Bay in the BVI.
I love my dad’s, Eduard Dreier’s, buildings; he worked in the style of Mies van der Rohe. I also really liked the Chart House in Rancho Mirage, which was designed in 1978 by Ken Kellogg and unfortunately caught on fire a couple of years ago.
I love my iPhone.
Fletcher Benton. He’s a great abstract sculptor and painter, and also a good friend.
Guy Dreier Designs, 760.568.3670, www.guydreierdesigns.com