What Inspires Me: Tom Ward

Tom Ward: Architect and co-founder of Ward + Blake

Tom Ward

Architect and co-founder of Ward + Blake

By Dina Mishev ∙ Portrait by David Agnello


Tom Ward’s first trips to Jackson Hole were as a child. “My dad was a geologist; his idea of a great family weekend was to pack us up in the camper and come over here to look at rocks, erosion, and that giant geological anomaly that is the caldera,” Ward says. Those family adventures are still fresh in Ward’s mind today and partially inform his work. He and wife Katherine Reedy (an interior designer at ek Reedy Interiors) built a 1,900-square-foot home from rammed earth using a process—called “Earthwall”—Ward patented in 2004. As far as Ward knows his is the first post-tension rammed earth house in the world. “Developing the process was hard. Harder still was convincing my wife to live in a house made out of dirt,” Ward says. “Hardest of all was convincing a bank to give us a mortgage on a house made out of dirt.” But it’s not just the geology of a landscape that inspires Ward, as evidenced by the items on this page.

The Parker 75 is cooler than a Montblanc pen. It has got this ninety-degree cross hatch. It’s so tactile; it is like worry beads. I carry three things into every interview, and this is one of them. It is like a security blanket.

Moran Bay in Jackson Lake at sunrise. To the east, Sleeping Indian is backlit by the sun. To the west, Mount Moran is speckled by the light of the sunrise. The same location after a late-afternoon thundershower—preferably with a double rainbow—is also inspiring. No, I do not own a boatomward_05t; I do rent those nasty ones at Signal Mountain Lodge.

The very first architect I worked for had a grouping of Eames chairs in his office. There are a lot of ways to analyze furniture—function, durability—and the Eames stuff is unparalleled. If you place this chair in a rustic environment, it has enough guts to stand up to it. It even works in a rammed earth home.

Etceterini cars have motors the size of sewing machines and aren’t mechanical wonders, but they are pure passion. They have their roots in post-World War II Italy, when that country was struggling to rebuild. Italians are passionate about cars, and the first car to rtomward_04eally be put back into production after the war was the Fiat Topolino. You could take it apart and build your own car around the mechanics. That’s an Etceterini car. Only a tiny handful were ever made—by the end of the 1960s no one was making them anymore—but collectors are starting to take notice. There’s someone in town with one. You speak about these like art, not an automobile. The passion that went into designing and building each is obvious.

Carlo Scarpa, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, was a genius. He had a sensitivity for material and tradition the likes of which, once I had seen his work, I was an instant fan. It is so sophisticated and subtle and respectful; a mix of contemporary and classic. It just gets all of my gears whirring. (Ed. Note: most of Scarpa’s work is found in Venice and Treviso, Italy.)

I have a penchant for glass and a minor collection. I love work by local glass artist Laurie Thal. The colors are intense, and her craftsmanship is impeccable.




Share This Story With Friends