PBS’ ‘Craft in America’ show highlights Inverness resident, architect and environmentalist – Marin Independent Journal

When the producers of “Craft in America,” a Peabody Award-winning documentary series that has aired on PBS since 2007, wanted to take a look at America’s craftspeople and handcrafted homes, they traveled to Sim van Der’s Inverness home. Rin.

“We first gravitated to the brilliance of Wharton Esherick and then decided to look at the handcrafted homes on the West Coast to see how they contrasted with Esherick’s aesthetic,” says Jacoba Atlas, senior consultant for the segment.

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Van der Ryn intrigued them.

“(He’s) one of the most important architects in California, an environmentalist and someone who was committed to working collaboratively with the students he taught at UC Berkeley,” she says. “He was a leader in the ‘Back to the Garden’ movement and decided to marry his skills as an architect with his commitment to living in harmony with nature.

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She adds that they thought his work on the West Coast would compliment Esherick’s East Coast aesthetic. “We saw the two great craftsmen and architects in conversation with each other about their inclusion.”

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Sim Van der Ryn's Inverness House is featured on PBS "American Crafts" Show.  (Photo by Richard Olson)

Photo by Richard Olsen

Sim Van der Ryn’s Inverness home is featured on PBS’s “Craft in America” ​​show.

The production team met van der Ryn at his home and interviewed his son Micah, who grew up there, as well as van der Ryn’s colleague Jim Kampe and UC Berkeley architecture professor Greg Castillo.

The episode was filmed over two days in March and will air on KQED on December 21st at 11pm.

According to Atlas, the producers “took him into memories of fleeing Europe as the Nazis advanced because of some of the protests in Berkeley,” she says. “He wanted a quiet life. He wanted refuge and he decided to create what he was looking for. A fascinating man to include in our hour about the house.”

Van der Ryn’s piece deals not only with his craftsman’s hand-made work, but also with how he worked with his students and his commitment to the environment.

“In that respect, he was very immediate to us and his philosophy of living in harmony with the environment has a strong message for today,” says Atlas.

As required for artists profiled in the exhibition, viewers develop a sense of the “whole man” as van der Ryn’s life is profiled.

They will learn about his work as a UC Berkeley professor of architecture for 40 years, the Outlaw Builders group he founded in the 1960s and 1970s. , Laws and Regulations” as examples of his Inverness home, and his work as state architect for Governor Jerry Brown.

"He needed refuge and decided to create what he was looking for." says Jacoba Atlas at Sim Van der Ryn's house.  (Photo by Richard Olson)

Photo by Richard Olson

“He needed refuge and he decided to create what he was looking for,” says Jacoba Atlas of Sim van der Rijn’s house.

“Van Der Ryn’s work is well known to academics and architects, but probably not to a wider audience,” she says. “His insistence on using his own and his friends’ skills to build sustainable homes is as important today as it was decades ago.”

Atlas hopes viewers will recognize that “the current emphasis on living in harmony with the environment is rooted in early generations and that what pioneers like van der Rien have accomplished can be a blueprint for the future.”

Van der Ryn’s “Eco-Refuge” is a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom three-story house set on five wooded acres in Inverness that can be rented for corporate or group retreats or for private vacations.

To view photos of the home or book a reservation, visit simvanderryn.com.


If you have a beautiful or interesting Marin garden or newly designed Marin home, I’d love to hear about it.

Please send an email describing one (or both), what you like best about it, and a photo or two. I will post the best ones in future columns. Your name will be published and you must be over 18 years of age and a Marin resident.

Don’t miss the event

• Looking for vintage gifts, home decor or curios? Shop more than 140 vendors at French Market Marin’s outdoor market during its “Big Christmas Show” Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Marin Civic Center Armory on Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. Free admission and parking. Issue? Go to thefrenchmarketmarin.com.

PJ Bremier writes every Saturday about home, garden, design and entertainment topics. She can be reached at PO Box 412, Kentfield 94914, or at [email protected]


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