Launch Slideshow

Finne Architects Retrospective

Finne Architects Retrospective

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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    CUSTOM HOME May-June 2008
    2008 CHDA
    Redmond, Wash., Residence
    Merit Award: Custom Home 3,000 to 5,000 Square Feet
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    Krause, Johansen

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    Krause, Johansen

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    Art Grice

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    Krause, Johansen

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    Krause, Johansen

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    Krause, Johansen

    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
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    CUSTOM HOME Winter 2007
    Semiahmoo Bay, Wash. Residence
    Top Flight
  • Placing the shower tiles in a vertical pattern adds a nice touch to the tile work and allowed me to give it a somewhat random feel, says architect Nils C. Finne.

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    Placing the shower tiles in a vertical pattern adds a nice touch to the tile work and allowed me to give it a somewhat random feel, says architect Nils C. Finne.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME March-April 2011
    Kitchen & Bath Design Guide
    Fall City, Wash., Farmhouse
    Up in the Air
  • A sapele and blackened steel bench designed by Finne provides a convenient place for towels and clothing.

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    A sapele and blackened steel bench designed by Finne provides a convenient place for towels and clothing.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME March-April 2011
    Kitchen & Bath Design Guide
    Fall City, Wash., Farmhouse
    Up in the Air
  • There are no sight lines from neighboring properties into the bath, but a hidden shade pulls down anyway to provide extra privacy.

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    There are no sight lines from neighboring properties into the bath, but a hidden shade pulls down anyway to provide extra privacy.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME March-April 2011
    Kitchen & Bath Design Guide
    Fall City, Wash., Farmhouse
    Up in the Air
  • The tub and vanities look out over the scenic Snoqualmie Valley.

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    The tub and vanities look out over the scenic Snoqualmie Valley.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME March-April 2011
    Kitchen & Bath Design Guide
    Fall City, Wash., Farmhouse
    Up in the Air
  • Many components of this kitchen were custom-fabricated, such as the resin and CNC-milled cabinets; cast-glass bar counter; hand-blown glass light fixtures; and steel wall panels, which were left outside to weather for three months.

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    Many components of this kitchen were custom-fabricated, such as the resin and CNC-milled cabinets; cast-glass bar counter; hand-blown glass light fixtures; and steel wall panels, which were left outside to weather for three months.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME January-February 2011
    K+B Studio
    Lake Forest Park Kitchen Renovation, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
    Culinary Craft
  • New clerestories bring natural light into the kitchen, and radiant-heated terrazzo floors provide even warmth.

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    New clerestories bring natural light into the kitchen, and radiant-heated terrazzo floors provide even warmth.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME January-February 2011
    K+B Studio
    Lake Forest Park Kitchen Renovation, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
    Culinary Craft
  • In the southwest corner, an oval tub sits in a steel frame with a laser-cut pattern resembling vine runners, which is repeated on the valances.

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    In the southwest corner, an oval tub sits in a steel frame with a laser-cut pattern resembling vine runners, which is repeated on the valances.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME January-February 2011
    K+B Studio
    Lake Forest Park Bath Renovation, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
    Boundary Issues
  • Over the sinks, architect Nils C. Finne added large mirrors, suspended in thin steel frames, that reflect patterns and light from the continuous windows behind them. They contribute a moment of glamour to an otherwise restrained room, and they do sway, underscoring the sense of hovering lightly in space.

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    Over the sinks, architect Nils C. Finne added large mirrors, suspended in thin steel frames, that reflect patterns and light from the continuous windows behind them. They contribute a moment of glamour to an otherwise restrained room, and they do sway, underscoring the sense of hovering lightly in space.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME January-February 2011
    K+B Studio
    Lake Forest Park Bath Renovation, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
    Boundary Issues
  • With its new gabled fir ceiling, cherry cabinets, and limestone floors and countertop, the bath plays off its natural setting.

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    With its new gabled fir ceiling, cherry cabinets, and limestone floors and countertop, the bath plays off its natural setting.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME January-February 2011
    K+B Studio
    Lake Forest Park Bath Renovation, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
    Boundary Issues
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2008
    Kitchen Remodel, Seattle, Wash.
    Kitchen Riches
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2008
    Kitchen Remodel, Seattle, Wash.
    Kitchen Riches
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2008
    K+B Studio
    Master Bath, Seattle, Wash.
    Light Magic
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2008
    K+B Studio
    Master Bath, Seattle, Wash.
    Light Magic
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME April 2007
    2007 Kitchen & Bath Trends
    Kitchen Remodel, Seattle, Wash.
    Pattern Language
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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME April 2007
    2007 Kitchen & Bath Trends
    Kitchen Remodel, Seattle, Wash.
    Pattern Language
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    Finne Architects, Seattle

    CUSTOM HOME April 2007
    2007 Kitchen & Bath Trends
    Kitchen Remodel, Seattle, Wash.
    Pattern Language
  • The FOSS pendant light, by FINNE Architects, is made of handblown glass. It gets its name from the Norwegian word for "waterfall."

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    The FOSS pendant light, by FINNE Architects, is made of handblown glass. It gets its name from the Norwegian word for "waterfall."

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2010
    The Architect's Eye
    Product Design Gives Architects Another Avenue for Their Skills
    Product Showcase
  • Furniture and lighting design are logical sidelines for Seattle architect Nils Finne, AIA. He often creates custom pieces for his residential projects, and adapts them for other buyers on a made-to-order basis. "Compared to implementing and executing architecture, it's more manageable, in a sense, and more immediate," he says. His custom SVING bench, completed in June, joins sinuous strips of Sapele wood with legs of blackened steel.

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    Furniture and lighting design are logical sidelines for Seattle architect Nils Finne, AIA. He often creates custom pieces for his residential projects, and adapts them for other buyers on a made-to-order basis. "Compared to implementing and executing architecture, it's more manageable, in a sense, and more immediate," he says. His custom SVING bench, completed in June, joins sinuous strips of Sapele wood with legs of blackened steel.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    CUSTOM HOME September-October 2010
    The Architect's Eye
    Product Design Gives Architects Another Avenue for Their Skills
    Product Showcase

Launch Slideshow

Finne Architects - Recent and On the Boards Projects

Finne Architects - Recent and On the Boards Projects

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Lake Forest Park is a 1950s modern residence that Finne remodeled from top to bottom. As in many of his projects, he opened the roof with a generous amount of clerestory glazing.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Finne’s affinity for midcentury Pacific Northwest modernism is evident in the seamless blend of new work and original structure.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    A glass partition, pocket door, and clerestory allow the master bedroom to share light with the dressing area and master bath.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Cabinetry throughout the house bears a CNC-milled panel of Finne’s design.

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    Eric Hausman

    Eagle Harbor, a project that took Finne to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is so close to the shore of Lake Superior that storm-driven spray sometimes splashes the house.

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    Eric Hausman

    The house’s main living space constitutes a lakefront viewing platform. A wood screen defines a separate space at the entry.

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    Eric Hausman

    A dining table of Finne’s design echoes the shape of the island countertop.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Finne’s Christian Science Reading Room converted a 1905 bungalow for public use while preserving its residential scale.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    The interior opens to a new roof framed and planked in Douglas fir. The painted gable wall is patterned with deliberate randomness, a recurring theme in Finne’s work.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Finne’s built in cabinetry and reading desks are integral to the design.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    A screen of sawn basalt slabs defines a private seating area.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    The desk legs are aluminum, cast in a pattern of Finne’s design and coated in bronze.

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    courtesy of Finne Architects

    The building’s roof is an assemblage of warped planes, another motif in Finne’s work.

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    courtesy of Finne Architects

    The building’s roof is an assemblage of warped planes, another motif in Finne’s work.

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    courtesy of Finne Architects

    The main level’s elevation, some 20 feet above grade, give it the feeling of a tree house.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    The Tind table combines a water jet-cut steel top with bamboo legs that seem to have been extruded through it.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    The Skli (Norwegian for “slide”) lighting fixture is named for its suspended screen, which Finne formed by hand from glass rods.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Patterns that Finne develops for furnishings and hardware often find their way into other building elements, such as this stair railing.

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    Benjamin Benschneider

    Designing seemingly incidental hardware, like this custom stainless steel towel bar, gives Finne a fine-grained control of his projects.

Nils Finne, AIA, has long exemplified the highly skilled regional practitioner. Based in Seattle, he draws on Asian, Scandinavian, and mid-century modernist influences in work that distills the environmental and cultural currents of the contemporary Pacific Northwest. But the Internet recognizes no regional boundaries, and in recent years Finne has seen his base of potential clients broaden to include anyone who can type “Seattle modern architect” into a web browser. “Over the last three or four years, the Internet has become the primary vehicle for clients to find us,” Finne says, “and it has made my work increasingly available to a national audience.” His four-person firm, Finne Architects, recently completed custom homes in Massachusetts and northern Michigan, has houses under construction in North Carolina and Oregon, and is in design on projects in Texas and California. The North Carolina clients contacted Finne after seeing his Michigan house online. “They called me from London and said they wanted to talk about a new house in North Carolina,” he says. “That’s the new world right there. It’s a phenomenal development, and it’s kept us in a much better position during the recession.”

Despite his deep connection with the Pacific Northwest, Finne enjoys adapting his work to new settings. Of the Massachusetts project, he notes, “It became more and more rooted in New England as we went along. I didn’t want to just plant a Seattle house in Ipswich, Mass.” But exploring new territory isn’t as different from working at home as one might expect. “The tension between localism and more universal and general design principles should be present in every project,” he says. The challenges of remote projects lie as much in communication and process as in design. “You have to be very articulate about the design and good at presenting images. You have to become much more aware about why you’re doing things,” says Finne, who finds writing a useful test of the clarity of his ideas. “If your thinking about something is sloppy, that sloppiness shows up in your email,” he says.

Wherever Finne ventures, two elements of his approach remain as strong as ever: the furniture he designs for most projects and the deftly managed natural light that animates all of his buildings. Finne developed his mastery of the latter as project architect for Richard Meier’s Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles, where the task was delivering precise levels of light onto a work of art. “Those principles, from gallery design, are universal in architecture,” he says. “You deal with the specifics of how light lands on the building. If it’s handled well, it’s a delight; if it’s handled poorly, it’s a disaster. One of my favorite devices is a high clerestory window, rather than a direct horizontal aperture.” The soft, diffuse light that fills his interiors also saves energy, he notes, adding that clients often tell him, “We haven’t turned the lights on in days.”

Finne’s custom furniture illuminates his work in other ways. With the addition of furnishings that reflect the building’s overall aesthetic, he says, “the level of the design becomes highly personal. It’s localism taken to the ultimate degree.” Creating tables, beds, lighting fixtures, and bathroom hardware also allows Finne and his associates to experiment with design ideas. “We draw these things at full scale,” he says. “You can’t manipulate the design of a building at full scale.” The results become part of the firm’s visual vocabulary. “These patterns and CNC techniques cross over from the furniture into stair railings and things like that,” says Finne, who has been working for the past three months on a pair of 14-foot-long lighting fixtures made of fused glass rods. “It’s a labor of love,” he admits. “I choose not to even try to bill for most of this design work. The clients will pay for something to be made; that’s how it becomes affordable.” Because it amplifies the power of his buildings, the furniture yields marketing dividends, Finne believes. But its primary purpose is to complete the architecture, and in so doing, it justifies whatever time it takes. “In all questions of form,” Finne says, “I believe you have to take as much time as it takes for the form to reach its ultimate level of simplicity. The element of time—you just can’t divorce that from good design.”


Firm Specs:

Years in practice: 21; Active projects: 5; Projects completed in 2011: 2; Areas of interest: Custom new homes, renovations, and lighting and furniture design

 

Finne Architects Past Articles