Architecture Hamptons Edition Design

Architect Adam Jordan and His Design-Minded Client Athena Calderone Reconnect to Dissect Modern Hamptons Living

The Shagwong residence in East Hampton, designed by Adam Jordan.

Athena Calderone: I love that your 2015 Shagwong residence allowed us to be reacquainted all these years after we worked together alongside Paul Masi on my Amagansett home. I was immediately drawn to its design, materiality, and architecture long before I knew it was yours. Can you speak to your architectural point of view?

Adam Jordan: Working on your Amagansett home was a great pleasure with so many fond memories. European design sensibilities, which I interpret as a reverence for history, attention to detail, and commitment to craftsmanship, are fundamental to my design approach. My architectural point of view is to craft refined, thoughtful, and timeless spaces that embody the unique needs of each client. I am drawn to an edited design language that prioritizes simplicity, warmth, and materiality with an unwavering dedication to detail and craftsmanship.

Calderone: Can you share more about the layout of the Shagwong residence, particularly the U-shaped design and your choice to integrate a courtyard that allows each space to connect to the outdoors? I am also curious how you intended the experience to be for someone initially entering the home. That entry hall leading to the waterfront is most certainly a “wow” moment. Tell us more about your vision for the flow of this home and how you blurred the line between indoors and out.

Jordan: The U-shaped design was a result of our close collaboration with the client and their unique requests. At our first meeting, the client’s brief requested a single-story home that allowed water views for each space. This turned out to be challenging given the property’s narrow width, but after some design exploration, we developed the idea of a U-shaped home with the interior spaces oriented around a central courtyard.

High-priority spaces—including the living area, dining area, kitchen, and main suite—are located in the wing closest to the water, allowing for unobstructed views. Secondary spaces—including the guestrooms and office—are in the opposite wing but are granted water views through strategically placed windows overlooking the courtyard.

With respect to the entry hall, a recurring theme in our work is to create a sense of exploration and reveal as one navigates the home. Working with the client, we made the decision to treat the front of the home as a solid volume, acting as a veiled curtain concealing the vast water views beyond. The main entry door is recessed within a deep porch, clad with dark-stained siding, further reinforcing the veiled entry into the home. Once the door is opened, you are presented with a light-filled entry hall framing the expansive water views alongside a large expanse of glass overlooking the central courtyard.


Calderone: Is the land and surrounding property always a starting point as you approach each project?

Jordan: The site and its surroundings are always some of the first considerations in our design process. Each project begins with an in-depth study of the site, its topography, orientation, vegetation, and existing structures. Fortunately, many of our projects are to design spaces that embrace thoughtful use of natural lighting and curated views of the surrounding landscape. Understanding and embracing a project’s natural context allows us to create a harmonious relationship between a home and its surroundings.

Calderone: I’d love to learn more about how you work with clients. How do you incorporate their needs, lifestyle, and personality while still staying true to your design identity?

Jordan: Our approach to working with clients is deeply collaborative. Designing a home is very personal, and we strive to include our clients in every step, ensuring their dreams and aspirations are embodied in the final product. Even though we have a distinct style that our clients seek out, we begin our projects looking at inspirational images, which can range from past projects to abstract imagery.

We recently used an image of an old brick wall found on a client’s property that influenced our material selections and honored the historic building materials in the surrounding area. We then take those sources of inspiration, alongside our client’s brief, and begin developing designs with hand sketches and eventually work our way to computer renderings and plans. Throughout this process, we continuously meet and develop with our clients, ensuring that every decision aligns with their goals.

Calderone: Can you share some of your architectural mentors and identify where your sense of aesthetics comes from?

Jordan: I am a minimalist at heart but deeply drawn to spaces that are warm and inviting. Embracing traditional building techniques and materials while reinterpreting in a refined design language is a foundational theme in my work. The merging of these two ideas imbues an element of history and patina into our designs, resulting in spaces that are livable, comfortable, and exude character.

I personally draw inspiration from past design visionaries ranging from architects to furniture designers—[Ludwig] Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Charlotte Perriand, and Pierre Chapo, to name a few. A contemporary architect who was not only an inspiration but a good friend in my early career was Harry Bates. A prolific 20th-century modernist, Harry designed many homes on Long Island that are incredible works of modern architecture due to their understated elegance that seamlessly merges into their surroundings. Harry’s knowledge, passion, and incredible stories are all fond memories that played an important role in my early career.


Calderone: You branched out to start your own multidisciplinary design firm in 2014. What have been some highlights in growing a firm? How do you continue to evolve?

Jordan: Starting my own firm has been a dream come true, primarily due to the creative freedom it provides and the meaningful connections I make with so many incredible people. It’s deeply fulfilling as a naturally creative individual to bring ideas to life. Knowing that these creations will become the backdrop for people’s lives, where they’ll build memories and grow, is a profoundly humbling experience.

Developing a design identity is a gradual process that I feel is influenced by life, experiences, and inherent personal preferences. While I’ve always been a minimalist, my wife’s preference for softer, vintage, and whimsical designs has influenced my own tastes in a positive way. The merging of these two design influences can be seen in my work through the combination of warm, livable, and patinated spaces that are rigorously detailed.

Calderone: The most amazing part about reconnecting is collaborating with you once again on the architecture of the annex on our Amagansett property. I knew you would design a secondary space that aesthetically aligned with the original architecture but with a fresh take. It feels like such a full-circle moment as we have both evolved so much since then. I would love to ask your opinion about collaboration in general when working with another designer.

Jordan: I believe that architecture and interior design is inherently connected, and when they complement each other, [they] create a cohesive and thoughtful environment. I have found that working with other talented designers who respect each other's work often leads to new and unique design solutions that further enhance the inseparable connection between architecture and interiors.