Craftsmen at Work
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THE ART OF VISION // MICHAEL DOTY
Michael Doty is not the average craftsman. His work does not take place in a shop or utilize a hammer, saw or chisel. Doty’s craft demands him to be a master in the practices of drawing, writing, math, design and computer modeling. But more than anything, Doty’s craft requires vision.
Doty is an architect and his ultimate goal is to help people figure out how they live and then translate that into what type of space can complement their lifestyle. Doty’s job is to take a broad idea and bring it to life with details people love but didn’t even know they wanted.
At age 54, Doty has owned his own architecture firm in the Valley for 18 years and worked in the field long before that. In that time, his vision has been a part of the design of more than 200 buildings in the area.
Although Doty’s work does not have a signature style, he puts great emphasis on creating spaces that are meant to emanate a cohesive feeling, whether it be of comfort or of the owner’s personal style.
“Architecture is one of those things that doesn’t go away,” Doty said. “You can’t put a bag on it. You can’t hide it, and so it’s one of those things where you’re trying to do the best you can to keep the thought clear through the entire process so that the whole concept really resonates. In the end, the concept may not be readable to some people, but you want it to be feelable.”
Photo: Hailey Tucker
Some of the projects Doty is particularly proud of include The Cornerstone Bar and Grill in Ketchum, the Hailey-branch Marketron building and the remodel of the old Williams grocery store into Roxy’s, which opened in the spring of 2011.
Doty said all three buildings are what he considers examples of effective design and ideas that made a successful leap from imagination to reality.
Successful design in Doty’s mind is not only something people see and like, but something that changes the way they live.
“Unfortunately people know more about their car than they do their own house sometimes … You spend so much of your life inside and indoors, and people don’t think about the design and what that means to them or that good design can make them feel better about life in general or help them have a better day,” Doty said.
The idea that design has an impact is what drives Doty to push his architecture beyond basic walls and windows.
In the Cornerstone, Doty said he wanted customers to have a high level experience from the moment they walked in until the moment they left. To him, this meant no space would be neglected in the design process.
good design and it’s really simple,
it looks effortless but I promise you it’s not.”
“You can go into the bathrooms there and have the same experience entering the bathroom that you did when you walked in the front door,” Doty said.
To try and create design that affects people, whether it’s on a conscious or subconscious level, Doty’s design process requires a great deal of thought. He said the main task for an architect is to be a problem solver. Like doing a puzzle, he considers it his job to figure out how to make an array of often unrelated details and ideas come together into one unified piece.
“You start with infinite possibilities, and you systematically start removing the chaos,” Doty said. “You know, chaos wants to win the day. Simplicity is where you’re trying to get. I think that good design is simple, and when you see good design and it’s really simple, it looks effortless but I promise you it’s not.”
Doty spends much of his time researching to keep up-to-date on the ever-changing variety of materials and technologies he can offer his clients. He said that one of the major challenges of his job is simply filtering through all of the options available.
“In my eyes, for people in this profession, we’re on a fairly steep, continual learning curve. It’s not necessarily about what we do, but how we do it and what we do it with,” he said. “You need to continue to push the envelope, but if you’re out on the bleeding edge, it can be risky and the stakes are high.”
Knowing the endless possibilities and then having the vision to determine which are best suited for the client is what makes Doty a craftsman. Although his hands may not be calloused from hours in the shop, his final products demand the same attention to detail and mastery as any other work of art.