For over a decade, Chris Brandon and his team of diverse and talented designers have been dramatically influencing the architectural and interior design elements of Newport Beach and Coastal Orange County.
Since Chris first began designing high-end custom homes and modern custom luxury boutique hotels, he’s placed a high value on intertwining art, architecture, and the natural environment into his projects, with a focus on inspiring an environmentally sensitive footprint. His unique and progressive approach to design has made Brandon Architects one of the preeminent firms in Southern California, and has literally changed the face of Coastal Orange County by seamlessly blending architecture with its surrounding environment. Elevated was excited to check-in with Chris and find out more about his vision and what’s new and exciting in the world of design.

1. Everyone has a vision of their dream home. How do you get inside your client’s heads and execute that vision?
Great question—it’s one of our favorite parts of the job. We love to get to know our clients and feed off their creativity. We achieve this mostly through conversations, looking at tons of images, sharing books, and touring various completed projects and projects under construction.
Everyone speaks a different language when it comes to design, so getting on the same “wavelength” with our clients is important and we try to have a lot of fun with it.

2. Your homes are extensions of the environment they are built within. How important is it to create a residence that not only fits the personality of the client, but also seamlessly transcends the spirit of the community or region it is in?
Paramount! What we design becomes the built environment that surrounds us all, not just our clients. So we always try to find a way to satisfy our clients’ needs while being sensitive to the existing neighborhood and the pattern of development. When we hear positive feedback from the community around our designs, we feel like we’ve done our job well.

3. When it comes to architectural design, trends come and go. What design element do you see right now that will have the most longevity?
I think the connection we have to the outdoors is here to stay. Our team has a deep understanding and passion for indoor/outdoor design, and we are dedicated to creating integrated spaces that stand the test of time.

4. You’ve built in the mountains, you’ve built by the sea, you’ve built in wine country. How do you approach your projects with environment in mind?
We approach each of our projects with a very open mind and careful consideration of the setting, views, community and environment. Our approach is to strike a balance between what our client wants to achieve while being sensitive to the site, designing around challenges, and exploiting positive features. Sometimes that means picking highly durable materials to withstand extreme marine exposure by the beach, orienting a mountain home to maximize sun during the winter months, or designing around extreme wildfire risk. Being conscientious while designing a beautiful and functional home is what good architecture is all about.

5. You grew up in rural Oregon in a vibrant, natural locale. How do you incorporate the beauty of the outdoors into your architectural designs?
I did grow up around rural natural beauty and spent most of my free time outdoors enjoying it. Yet during college I spent an amazing year living in Sydney, Australia, which is a beautiful and dense city. I realized that natural beauty could come on a very small scale too. So, I think my designs are always trying to better connect us to outdoor beauty, whether it’s with a small interior courtyard in Corona Del Mar, or an expansive view of the Russian River Valley.

6. Brandon Architects is dedicated to designing homes that leave a small environmental footprint. How do you go about creating residences that lead to better living for all?
Socially responsible design is more than just solar panels and recycled materials. We try to look holistically at how our homes will impact our clients, the land, the neighborhood, and future residents. For example, for our Farmhouse in Santa Ynez we had 22 acres to work with, but finding a place to put the home to have views without disturbing the beautiful oak trees gave us a very small buildable area. Designing for resiliency is also important. I’m sure we’ve all seen some homes in the Newport Beach area that have been torn down that are less than 20 years old, because the house is poorly designed and doesn’t support the price of the land. That’s wasteful. Good design is timeless and should give a home a long useful lifespan.

7. Most people think building a luxury home from the ground up is a difficult and time-consuming goal. What advice do you have for someone who is interested in working with Brandon Architects but is unsure about the process?
I always tell people if they’ve never built a home before they’ve come to the right place. Sometimes, building a home is a difficult and time consuming process, but we try our very best to make the journey an easy, efficient, and rewarding one. We pride ourselves on “demystifying” the process and making it very easy to understand what the design will look and feel like. Our renderings and VR technology are a significant part of that. Having an incredible staff to thoroughly document our designs and manage all the consultants and permitting processes is all part of our concierge customer service.

8. Name one design feature you think every one of your clients needs when it comes to enjoying their ideal home. Natural light. It’s hard to downplay the importance of this in a new home. It’s simple, but oftentimes overlooked.

9. You can build your own dream home anywhere in the world—where is it and what’s the defining feature?
Ha! Classic question. Every architect probably dreams of designing their own private lakeside retreat with mountain views surrounded by nobody. I think Wanaka, New Zealand is that place for me—it’s absolutely stunning! To learn more about building or redesigning your dream home with the experts at Brandon Architects, visit Brandon architects.