Name: Todd Saunders
Company: Saunders Architecture, Bergen, Norway
Position within company: Owner and Lead Designer
Tell us a little about your background in design
I have lived and worked in Bergen since 1996, following studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and McGill University in Montreal. I continues to combine teaching with practice and have been a part-time teacher at the Bergen Architecture School since 2001. I have also lectured and taught at schools in Scandinavia, the UK and Canada and was a visiting professor at Cornell University in New York.
How would you describe your personal design style?
I enjoy simplicity and the clearness in my designs. I also strive to work with natural surroundings and have an architecture that is well placed into natural landscapes. Our design philosophy is mainly about making exclamation marks in natural landscapes while at the same time preserving it. And about materials; because I grew up in Canada and practice in Scandinavia the materiality is mostly timber tradition and a nordic material palette that we always use. But the forms are completely unconventional because we don’t copy what’s been done before. So we have been experimenting with new forms all the time. And the work has more of of a sculptural approach as well as a functional approach. Those two things match together that result in our projects.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I get my inspiration from hiking in the Mountains, mountain biking and kayaking. Time away from the office and then from sitting down and sketching.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
This is hard to answer as there are so many different architects working at the moment. There are some very good examples of small practices making precise and adventurous architecture.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond
Slowness + Confidence + Precision + Humor + Honest
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design, what would it be?
More hard work, bad designs are the product of laziness.
How important are The International Hotel and Property Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
Extremely important. We did one good hotel and would like to take the knowledge that we gained to make a 2nd hotel. This award would put us in a better position to get new projects.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are working on a house in Toronto, a ski lodge in Utah, a spa in the forest outside of Oslo, and a Surf Centre on the Lofoten Island in the North of Norway
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
It has nothing to do with architecture, but I´m working on trail running, mountain biking, and playing tennis. Perhaps if I am more healthy and clear-minded, I will make better architecture?
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
My two daughters: Sina and Astri.
If you are considering material things, I have a very nice hand-made street bicycle.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Any place with powder skiing. I went heli-skiing in British Columbia two years ago and it was one of the best days of my life.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
I have a few favourite hotels – I recently stayed at Kranzbach and Schloss Elmau in Germany. I also spent 3 great days at the Fogo Island Inn this summer.
The best bar is Legal in Bergen, Norway.
The best restaurant that I have been in this summer was the Bicycle Thief in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Your favourite book / film / song?
Book – The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Film – Snatch by Guy Ritchie
Song – The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness by John Prine and Nanci Griffith
Your favourite food and drink?
Food – Roasted duck
Drink – A non-alcoholic Rhubarb Seltzer made by Jacob, the bartender at The Fogo Island Inn
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Bike + Read + An Afternoon nap outside
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would love to own a book store / art gallery.