In 1976, Len Brackett returned to California after a 5–year apprenticeship as a temple carpenter in Kyoto. He opened an architecture firm, East Wind, shortly thereafter. In the 40+ years that have followed, East Wind has become internationally recognized for their synthesis of traditional Japanese carpentry with modern expectations for comfort and energy-efficiency.
I became familiar with Len’s work during my first visit to Rintaro. As you enter Rintaro’s courtyard from the gritty, industrial area that surrounds—you can’t help but feeling completely transported. Inside and out, the building feels like it would be more at home in an old neighborhood of Kyoto than it does in its industrial area of San Francisco.
When Len reached out to me a few years later looking for a new website to showcase East Wind’s work, I jumped at the chance.
Len may be the most prepared client I have ever worked with. He had dozens of beautifully shot photographs and notes describing his process in intricate detail. He also had a clear vision for the look-and-feel: a journalistic narrative featuring large images and refined typography.
We spent several weeks editing and consolidating his notes, finding the right sequence of images and agreeing on a stylistic direction that evokes expert craftsmanship and timeless aesthetics. We determined that the typography should feel sharp and precise while still looking handmade and physical. I explored dozens of type pairings, relying heavily on old-style and transitional serifs. Eventually we landed on Adobe’s Garamond Premier Pro for the body text with an angular transitional serif called Farnham for headings.
The structures that East Wind builds can take years to complete, so there was no need for frequent updates to the website. For the sake of simplicity and speed (and to allow me more time designing and less time writing code), I built the site using Webflow which I have found to be an exceptional tool for building static sites like East Wind’s.
At the time of this writing, the site has only been live for a few weeks—so I don’t have any results to report other than that Len and I are very happy with the outcome.