From his bustling, brick-walled office in West Los Angeles, Richard Landry—the architect behind Robb Report’s Ultimate Home honorees for the past four years—creates unparalleled custom residences for clients in locales ranging from Southern California to Shanghai. His diverse designs cannot be defined by one particular style. Whether it is an Italianate villa in Beverly Hills or a modern compound in Bel-Air, a Landry project always embodies the highest levels of quality, craftsmanship, and timelessness, down to the finest detail.
What Is Luxury?
For some people, having running water in their house is luxury; having a roof over their head is luxury. So depending on who you relate this to, luxury changes a lot. It’s so subjective. Luxury for me is [the ability] to use great materials, great finishes—the luxury of working with great craftsmen. When you have a budget that allows you to do something that is elegant, that has the right finishes, that is well built, that’s going to age properly, that in itself is a great luxury.
We’re building right now in 15 countries. It is such a global market that no matter if I’m building in China or in Riyadh, we have access to the same material from all over the world. We’re doing work in L.A. where we import things from Asia or from Europe. We’re doing work in Asia where we import things from the States. We’re doing work in Russia where all the cabinets are made in Denver and shipped over there. The world has gotten very, very small, and that’s another part of luxury—that you can find things anywhere in the world and apply them to your project anywhere in the world. It’s really kind of cool to be able to do that, but again, I would always put it back in the context of being so relative to [the clients] you’re working with and how they define their own luxury, because for somebody else the luxury might be not to have a big mega house but to have five smaller houses in different parts of the world.
In Good Taste
I’d say for most of the houses we do, we try to avoid the ostentatious and frivolous ornamentation that you don’t need. You can have tasteful luxury. You can have all the jewelry in the world and it might not even look good because it’s just too much bling, but a beautiful pendant that’s nicely designed with nice details—that’s all you really need.
The Ultimate Homes
When I look at the four houses that we’ve done that you’ve published the last four years, each of them is so unique. There’s a wide range there. One was very modern. One is rural Tuscan in feeling. Another was art deco, much more classic. Most architects that become successful have signature looks. I admire Frank Gehry and Richard Meier; it’s beautiful what they do, and they have a signature look. You know it’s a Frank Gehry project when you look at it, and they’ve perfected their style and they believe in what they’ve done.
For me, my whole life I have focused not so much on an aesthetic of a project but on the luxury, on the fact that I want to create the best quality of work and the best quality of detail no matter what the style is. When you specialize in doing homes, which is what we do, you’re dealing with different personalities, different clients, and different tastes. An architect must share the knowledge of what goes into these homes with the client. No matter what [the home’s] architectural style is, we do something that is unique, that is inspired. We look at architectural precedents a lot but we don’t copy them, and at the end of the day, people look at them and say, “Wow, this is unique. This is special. The details are there. The quality is there.” We were fortunate enough as we built the practice to attract the right clients, and then it took 26 years to get there, so it’s nice that it’s being recognized.
The Ultimate Client
All four of them [the owners of Landry’s Ultimate Homes] really cared about design. They cared about doing it right, and they were involved and they were listening, trusting the process and trusting what we have to say. Many times we do things that we’ve never done before and [clients will] say, “Show me a picture of what that’s going to look like.” We say, “We’ve never done it before. We’re creating something new here, something fresh.” There’s a trust level that has to come into play with a client. They’re part of the process, and I think they all care about high-end design. They really want something unique, something special, and they’re willing to put in the effort that it takes as a client to make that happen. I always say that there is no such thing as a great project without a great client.