Article: A PORTRAIT: BRITTON JEWETT
A PORTRAIT: BRITTON JEWETT
Britton Jewett is an architect in Santa Barbara and the Lead Designer for Santa Barbara Lighting Company.
Brit grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, “The Rollercoaster Capital of the World.” The son of an architect, who designed and conceptualized many of the rollercoasters in Sandusky, Jewett grew up surrounded by the world of design. “I was exposed to so much architecture and design as a child,” says Jewett in his charmingly chaotic studio in Historic Downtown Santa Barbara, “I identified with the essence of traditional architecture from a very young age.”
Jewett attended Ohio State, where he initially set out to be an optometrist, “I literally almost blew up the chemistry lab,” he laughs. So, instead, he pursued design and graduated with a degree in architecture. In 1985, Jewett came to California for the Rose Bowl on January 1st, and by February 2nd, he was a resident of California, “I loved it too much to leave.” He first lived in Orange County, but soon found his way to Santa Barbara, where he discovered a beauty so idyllic and surreal, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. “From a design perspective, I found the indoor-outdoor spatial awareness intriguing. It was this exotic unknown place that was so different from where I grew up,” he says, “I wanted to design here, build here and raise my kids here, and I’m very happy that I did.” Jewett likes to work with traditional structures and bringing in components of a modern lifestyle. He bridges the two so that they meet in a place that is comfortable. “The things that were done in the twenties don’t support the way that we live today, but there is comfort in being able to recognize traditional character in your home…I find that people enjoy the comforts of modern living but seek those traditional elements that make a house feel solid and recognizable.”
Jewett has mastered a myriad of work, everything from set designs (he designed a Ted Talk Stage in Santa Barbara, and designed, built and produced the opening night scene for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2013), to renovating the Santa Barbara Hall of Records with Charlie Starbuck. The diversity of his work has expanded from twenty-acre parcels, to smaller projects that may involve the renovation of only one room. One particular project Jewett was commissioned to design, was for a house that was to be built around a very treasured and beloved art collection. “I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of cool projects, and work with some pretty incredible people, but that one was one of the most intricate and rewarding ones,” he says. A self-taught furniture maker and designer, Jewett not only designed the house, but he also designed the displays and furniture pieces specifically for the art.