Experiential design at its finest
Like a lot of us, Mark de Reus had no idea what he wanted to do with his life after graduating from high school. Skiing was his sport and he found himself work in the small mountain resort town of McCall, Idaho. de Reus soon became an apprentice to a master builder, where he learned construction techniques in concrete, wood, timber, plaster, drywall, stone masonry, cabinetry, and even pattern making. This interest in design led him to a degree in Architecture, and in 2010 Mark de Reus was named one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Designers.
Today, Mark de Reus serves as the creative director of Hawaii-based de Reus Architects, an award-winning firm with a reputation for creating signature architecture that skillfully harmonizes innovation, tradition, and artistic expression. The firm’s Idaho office is based in Hailey.
de Reus’ fundamental appreciation for craftsmanship and insatiable curiosity about building inspires his designs. While staying at the Amandari Hotel during his first trip to Bali in 1990, he was seduced by tropical design.
“Here was a hotel so well integrated into the Ayung River landscape that the property appeared natural within the environment as it sat adjacent to a local village,” he recalls.
This kind of seamlessness was highly influential on de Reus, who was still evolving his own vision as an architect. The experience even sparked an interest in Balinese architecture, known for its layered meanings and nature-inspired site planning. Four years after his Bali initiation, de Reus accepted an offer to work in Jakarta, which gave him the opportunity to study traditional Indonesian architecture and emerging innovations in tropical design that were coming out of the region.
Now, with an aesthetic and philosophy of contextualism, de Reus and his associates create and shape their architecture integrating the influences and nuances of the region and site and are particularly sensitive to the lay of the land in order to preserve the soul and essence of each property. Whether Melanesian, Polynesian or pre-Columbian, “tapping the ancient for inspiration is such a rich source,” de Reus says.
Designing personal residences is especially close to de Reus’ heart. “The home is a sanctuary for the family – a calm center in a chaotic world,” he explains. “Because they’re so personal, I take into consideration the client’s expectations and architectural tradition of a home, while blending our passion for natural materials and detailed craftsmanship.”
In every de Reus design, owners and their guests recognize an experiential approach that is evolutionary and adaptive, drawing, as it does, from the mythology and cultural history of the land itself.
“Our design is about the experience of the site in its entirety, while curating unique spaces that engage with the surrounding environment, rather than the trends of the day or images in magazines.”
Dwellings designed by de Reus Architects have garnered accolades far-and-wide. In 2011, the firm won an Award of Excellence from the AIA Honolulu. de Reus earned the AIA Honor Award from the Idaho Chapter for his design of the River’s Bend Condominiums in McCall.
Mark de Reus has come to define his specialized approach as the “Art of Placemaking.” This approach thoughtfully considers the natural elements of a site, from its landscape, ecosystems, and wildlife to its culture, folklore, and traditions. In his first architectural monograph, Tropical Experience: Architecture + Design, de Reus explores this approach through insightful essays, engaging historical explorations, and illuminative sketches and photographs. Each story reveals the architect’s passionate expedition to evoke what is often lost in modern-day design: the spirit of place. Sun Valley will benefit from de Reus’ vision, passion, and experience in the new de Reus Architects office here in the Central Idaho mountains of his youth.