Building a large, luxury home is not for the faint of heart. Less so is building one firmly rooted in the midcentury modernist style, where axes precisely align for best sightlines and breezes, where junctures between planes and transitions between materials are resolved with grace and seamlessness, and where there’s essentially no place to hide, design-wise.
Even less for the faint of heart is building—on a compressed schedule—a show home whose reason for being is as lab of innovation and showcase of cutting-edge design, filled with products that you’ve never used before, often because the products themselves are new and being used for the first time in the show home.
Though trained as an architect, Phil Kean, principal of Phil Kean Design Group and designer/builder of The New American Home 2017, first ran a successful craft and stationery business with his partner, Brad Grosberg. “My dad was a builder, and when I was 7, I told my family that I was going to be an architect,” Kean recalls. He and Grosberg were making a good living with their business, and yet, “I had gone to school to be an architect but wasn’t doing architecture,” Kean says. It was 9/11 that prompted a reevaluation: “I was sitting on the I-4 here in Orlando, driving to work, and listening to it on the radio, and in that moment I thought, ‘You have to go for your dream.’” Kean and Grosberg set up shop, and in the past 15 years, their firm has grown to more than 35 employees.
When asked about his success, Kean is quick to acknowledge that while the company bears his name and his vision, the team makes it happen. “You can’t do this without great relationships, without trust and teamwork and partnership,” he says, nodding toward unflappable project manager Jim Kaiser, interior design president Rob Turner, and assistant designer Alyssa Smith. Kean calls his team superstars, as he does his subs.
“You take all of these amazing craftsmen and trades—people I’ve known for years—and you realize that they’re taking care of us,” he continues, motioning to the stone installers, tile setters, painters, electricians, glaziers, HVAC crews, and landscapers that seem to be everywhere at once on the jobsite, working amazingly quietly and at an accelerated pace to ready the house for the photo shoot scheduled to happen in a few days. There was plenty left to do that day, and in the coming days. But it all got done. “I call it ‘show house magic,’” Kean says. Come see for yourself. Tickets and shuttle bus information will be available at the International Builders’ Show in the Hall C lobby, from Tuesday, Jan. 10 through Thursday, Jan. 12.