Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Andrew Mann

With over 20 years of experience designing sophisticated residences within the San Francisco Bay Area, Andrew Mann is a staple in the architectural realm. Having learned from some of the best, such as Julia Morgan and William Turnbull, Mann has been able to continue some of the design traditions that honor the project’s site and context. He has an innate understanding of the relationship between the building and landscape, which is why he tries to use all-natural materials. Andrew Mann Architecture has been featured in numerous major publications such as Architectural Digest, California Home and Design and now aspire design and home.

From the built-in woodfire pizza oven to the ample pantry storage and semi-outdoor living, the details in this custom fabricated home truly recognize the owner’s wants and needs. Photographer by David Wakely.

From the built-in woodfire pizza oven to the ample pantry storage and semi-outdoor living, the details in this custom fabricated home truly recognize the owner’s wants and needs. Photographer by David Wakely.

Andrew Joseph: You’re the newest Crayola color. What color are you and why?
Andrew Mann: If I were a Crayola color, I would be North Coast Teal. Since the pandemic began, I have had the amazing opportunity to observe the ever-changing color of the Pacific Ocean.

AJ: What is the last book you read?
AM: I recently read a book by Erik Larson, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This was a great book to read during the pandemic as it was about leadership, a shared vision for a country and the overcoming of something that felt insurmountable.

AJ: What’s your favorite cocktail?
AM: My go-to cocktail is the Old Fashioned. Although, I recently discovered the Hanky-Panky, which I can’t resist because of the name and because it has Fernet-Branca in it.

AJ: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
AM: The weirdest thing I’ve encountered was when a prospective client once asked me to create a plexiglass display case for her wedding gown.

Intertwining the outdoor world and indoor space, Mann chose to incorporate skylights in this home, connecting separated rooms to create more space. Interiors by Niche Interiors. Photography by Paul Dyer.

Intertwining the outdoor world and indoor space, Mann chose to incorporate skylights in this home, connecting separated rooms to create more space. Interiors by Niche Interiors. Photography by Paul Dyer.

AJ: What are your ideal weekend plans?
AM: My ideal weekend plans would be spending time at my home in Sea Ranch-walking along the bluff, watching the wildlife, eating good food, hanging out with friends, watching the sunset over the water, and relaxing. Or, three frenetic days in Rome, museum hopping, drinking Negronis, eating pasta, and ordering espresso at my favorite cafe.

AJ: Who was the nicest person you worked for? Dare you want to share the worst?
AM: The nicest person I’ve worked with was a client that I did a project for in wine country. She was thoughtful, generous, insightful about her design goals and aesthetic and she was a good decision-maker. And, she always had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc available to fill my glass. In regards to the worst person I’ve worked with, I’ll just share this – my friend threw a Halloween party and asked guests to come as either your secret self or your nemesis. I went as my nemesis, who was my worst client.

AJ: How would you define your work in three words?
AM: Thoughtful, light-filled, balanced.

Mann was able to showcase this owner’s Native American artifacts and place them in an interior space that enhanced each piece. The natural light perfectly hits the gallery space bridging the indoors and outdoors. Photography by Paul Dyer.

Mann was able to showcase this owner’s Native American artifacts and place them in an interior space that enhanced each piece. The natural light perfectly hits the gallery space bridging the indoors and outdoors. Photography by Paul Dyer.

AJ: Favorite tea to decompress, and in what mug?
AM: Early in the pandemic, I bought Russian breakfast tea by Mariage Freres and I would have that in a shiny, dark brown Heath ceramics mug.

AJ: What about your design style has shifted this quarantine?
AM: Work during the quarantine has shifted the way I see the role of a firm Principal. I now see my role as mentor and the person who provides design critiques

AJ: How have you managed to grow your long-distance friendships?
AM: I had some friends that I would only see when we traveled together. We’ve never been to each other’s houses, but during the pandemic, we started doing weekly cocktail hour together and our friendship grew in a different way. It was a shift from seeing each other every day for two weeks at a time and going to see each other once a week for cocktails. It truly enriched our friendships.


About The Designer | Andrew has been designing residential architecture in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1989. His work encompasses a range of building types, from rural vacation retreats to sophisticated urban residences. He has run Andrew Mann Architecture since 1998. Prior to that, Andrew spent ten years working under the auspices of the late William Turnbull, Jr., one of the foremost proponents of the Bay Area Style during the latter half of the 20th century. Through these experiences, Andrew has developed a wealth of knowledge and skill as a designer that can be brought to bear upon all aspects of the architectural process. Originally from New England, Andrew graduated magna cum laude from Connecticut College and received his Master of Architecture from Princeton University, where he was awarded the American Institute of Architects School Medal and Certificate of Merit for academic achievement.


Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for aspire design and home magazine. See more of his work here.

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