This issue features the fifth edition of the Ultimate Home Tour, and Robb Report Home & Design Editor Adele Cygelman has been directing the processfrom the beginning. “The first year we had to define what, in our minds, was ultimate,” says Cygelman, who is also the editor in chief for Robb Report’s sister publications Robb Report Luxury Home and Robb Report Vacation Homes. “We decided it meant what best represented the use of a room. For example, a dining room should make you feel as though you’d like to spend the whole evening at the table.”
The field from which the rooms are selected changes each year, as Cygelman and Samantha Brooks, an assistant editor for the Robb Report Collection and the author of this year’s Ultimate Home Tour as well as the previous two, request that architects and designers submit for consideration what they view as their best work of the past 12 months. “At present we have a database of about 800 designers, and we send out a notice asking for ideas,” says Brooks. As for making the selections from the hundreds of submissions that they receive, Brooks says it is not as difficult as it may seem. “It’s funny, but you can tell right away that that’s the room,” she says. “Adele and I are pretty much always on the same page.”
A member of the Luxury Home and Vacation Homes staffs, Brooks recognizes that the Ultimate Home Tour may not have the same audience as those other two magazines. “I write this feature with the thought that it may be the only home design article our Robb readers look at all year,” she says. “Robb readers are interested in many aspects of luxury living, but they may not follow each one extensively. This is their annual update on the best things happening in home design.”
The work of photographer Erhard Pfeiffer has appeared frequently in Robb Report and its sister publications. For this issue’s Ultimate Home Tour feature, he shot the facade, basement, kitchen, and dining room. “I try to take photos that make the building look both natural and aesthetically pleasing,” says Pfeiffer. “I want to capture the building the way the architect intended.”
The proper lighting, says Pfeiffer, is the key to getting the shot right. “To shoot a beach house you would use natural light,” he explains. “A restaurant requires lighting. I do use lighting when it’s needed, but the idea should be you look at the photo and can’t tell if it has been lit or not. That’s when you know the job has been done right.”
Pfeiffer’s other recent projects include providing the principal photography for the book Adventurous Wine Architecture (Images Publishing Group, 2005), which examines the innovative work that architects and designers are performing in vineyards, cellars, tank rooms, and tasting rooms throughout the world. “This book was a foray into an all-digital production, and I used it to hone my skills in digital photography,” says Pfeiffer. “I did all the editing of the photos.” Out of the Earth: Adventurous Winery Architecture, an exhibition based on Pfeiffer’s photos for the book, is running through April 24 at Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts, in Napa, Calif.