Charles R. Stinson Architects is based in Deephaven, on Lake Minnetonka. The firm is known for design that is respectful of the surrounding environment and tied to the landscape. Charles Stinson works all over the world designing homes. In the introduction to Connections, the second book the firm has published featuring his work, their design philosophy is described as going beyond the connection to nature:
“Our work has always been about more than creating good design and architecture in context with nature: at its most fundamental level, what we do is about people—their lives, their histories, their hopes, their stories.”
This book is very much a product of that commitment. Each chapter introduces the reader to a house by starting with one of Stinson’s drawings of the project. The facing page is a quote from the client and then, with only one exception, most of the chapter is taken up with the client telling their story. The photographs are rich and vibrant, and the stories are particular to the family who makes the house a home. At some point in each chapter, Stinson contributes his own thoughts and fills out the story of the evolution of house from concept to reality.
The houses in the first book the firm published were all in Minnesota. This book expands to the mountains of Colorado, to Florida and Oklahoma, and to the high desert of Arizona, as well as the Cayman Islands.
“It shows how the language of our architecture translates to all parts of the world,” Stinson says. “It shows the evolution of our work.”
The clients were interviewed, and their stories were written by Kristin Parker and the photographs were taken by Paul Crosby. The book took years to bring together and Stinson describes it as a group effort. It is a substantial coffee-table book and, if you order it from the firm’s website, it comes in a limited edition slipcovered format.
Stinson’s wife Carol Eastlund was also part of the collaboration. It was her idea to interview the clients for the book. Eastlund says that the name of the book is descriptive of the work Stinson does in a powerful way.
“The stories touch on all the connections in our lives,” Eastlund says. “And, the architecture that my husband does has connections to nature in a way that other architecture just doesn’t.”
In September there will be, for the second year in a row, a Charles R. Stinson Architects house on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota Homes by Architects tour. More information about the tour can be found on the AIA website. Stinson has recently completed three houses on Lake Minnetonka and he and Eastlund live on the lake; so while they may be branching out to other corners of the world, Lake Minnetonka is still home.
Home, and what that means to each client who contributed their stories to this book, is what Connections focuses on: Individual homes and our shared home as earth dwellers.
“By sharing personal stories with candor, passion, wisdom and, at times, unabashed tenderness, our clients bring their experiences to life,” Stinson says in the book’s introduction. “Most importantly, they allow us to join them in celebrating that which unites us all: our inherent need to connect. Their stories are the reason for this book.”