Q&A with Illustrious California Architect William Krisel

Originally published in 

Palm Springs architect William Krisel entered the arena of architecture in the boom times that followed World War II and left in 1979 when the profession became “too uptight” as a result of lawyers and stricter building codes. During his illustrative career, Krisel, now 84 and still consulting, designed more than 30,000 homes throughout Southern California, including modern tract housing for the Alexander Construction Company as well as the House of Tomorrow, a futuristic house that later became the honeymoon home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley.

Why did you become a licensed landscape architect in addition to an architect?
The architect should be in charge of everything. To me, the indoors and outdoors are not separate. I never practiced landscape architecture as a separate thing; I only did it on my own projects—just as I picked the textures and colors of materials, designed the furniture and light fixtures, and everything else that the architect used to do.

Who outside your field inspires you?
Music, art, painting, as well as traveling are my outside interests, but architecture is in everything I see, hear, or do. There’s no way I can evaluate outside interests except to relate them to architecture.

Is there a specific object that changed how you think about design?
I’ve always been told that the egg is something that can’t be improved upon. Giving it some thought, I agree.

What is your ideal project?
My ideal project is a tough challenge with a minimum budget and lots of conditions to be met. Design is design, and has nothing to do with dollars and cents.

Where do you hope architecture will be in 20 years?
I hope architecture will be known for architecture and not for starchitects.

What would today’s House of Tomorrow look like?
Reimagining the House of Tomorrow is futile; all it encompasses is taking advantage of every new gadget, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the lighting. To me, going back to more functional, comfortable, smaller places is the real challenge.

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