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After a decades-long career that has intertwined architecture and fine art, sexagenarian Louise Durocher comes into her own as a sculptor. Written by STACY KENDALL : Photographed by CHARLIE SCHUCK


but Louise Durocher revels in defying expectations. For most of her career, the Montreal-born, Seattle-based artist was a renowned architect and landscape designer. Her residences and gardens were published in international magazines, and she spent her late 30s and 40s crisscrossing the globe to shape art galleries, boutiques, and homes in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. Yet despite all her success, she always felt an underlying pull toward fine arts. “From 1990 to 2001, I’d start my day at 6 a.m., working on my architecture and design projects until 3:30 p.m. and then my art and sculpture until midnight,” she recalls, sitting on a slipper chair in her Queen Anne studio. “When I was a student at the University of Washington, I sculpted on weekends. I have never been without a studio.” Her current space, a 2,400-square-foot warehouse that once belonged to the late, celebrated furniture designer David Gulassa, is a work of art in itself. Durocher resurrected it from disrepair in 2012, recognizing in its raw bones the studio she’d always wanted: “The walls


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and ceiling were made of rusty sheet metal, but in the first five minutes I could see it finished in my head.” Its renovation, which she tackled singlehandedly, was extensive inside and out. Only the concrete floors of the original structure remain, with the new interior spaces carved into designated “pristine rooms,” where she displays finished work and prints her monotypes (she creates one each time she completes a sculpture), and a “dirty room,” where she makes models, carves stone, and works with metals and plexiglass. A sleek galley kitchen and a sizeable bathroom with a shower support her long stretches of creating, and clerestory windows and a glazed garage door ensure good light and airflow through the space. Outside, Durocher flexed her landscape design muscles; the front garden, which was wildly overgrown when she bought the property, now resembles a courtyard in a picturesque French village. In mid-2016, after time spent winding down her architecture practice—capped by a “year of exhaustion” due to an unusually hiccup-ridden design project for a law firm—Durocher left full-time design behind. “On the one »

GRAY No. 32  

Pacific Northwest Design: The Luxury Issue

GRAY No. 32  

Pacific Northwest Design: The Luxury Issue