The Well Designed Life

Mark Lawton

Though he works from his South Dartmouth studio, architect Mark Lawton takes a global perspective when it comes to design. Studying in Italy, France and Greece as well as examining architectural …

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Though he works from his South Dartmouth studio, architect Mark Lawton takes a global perspective when it comes to design. Studying in Italy, France and Greece as well as examining architectural footprints throughout the U.S., Mark says international explorations have ultimately broadened his design sensibilities. “I studied European architecture while living in Rome and experienced America on a two-month road warrior trip across the U.S., sketching casinos in Vegas and timber frames in Yellowstone,” he says. “Design has always been in my blood.”

After earning his architecture degree at Cornell with his twin brother by his side, Mark settled in the desert of Taos, New Mexico to build Earthships, self-sufficient dwellings made completely of recycled materials. “These houses were using green methods before it even became a buzz word,” he explains.

His international and domestic experiences have shaped what he describes as a warm, modern aesthetic throughout his work. “I want my designs to be forward looking, clean and minimal [to] reflect a futuristic lifestyle but still infuse the feeling of home,” he explains. To execute this vision, Mark uses timeless materials including rich woods and textured stone while taking into account the critical components of well-proportioned space, co-hesive color palettes and natural light. These elements are universal he explains, and big design isn’t exclusive to big space. Build smaller but better, he advises, and focus on high-quality materials. “I strive to create at least one wow factor on every project,” he says.

Transforming a home starts with a dialogue, he says. “I listen to my clients and understand how they want to use the space, and how they want to feel in the space,” he explains. “I synthesize all this: flow of space, functionality, mood, aesthetic, and budget to arrive at an inspiring solution.”

Getting started is sometimes the hardest part, he concedes. Instead of being overwhelmed, start small. “Think about what gets you excited. Gather photos or magazine images that capture a mood. Even a simple object or quote can jump start a project,” he says. “Don’t limit yourself to where you can find inspiration.” Take a moment to look around, he suggests, your muse might be uncovered in the most unexpected places. Mark adds, “Your environment really affects you on a daily basis, Why not be inspired?”