Ken Catton of Ross

Although Catton’s firm specializes in diverse lifestyle and culturally oriented projects worldwide, odds are you have enjoyed one of its local designs—whether at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace, Franciscan Winery or Oxbow Public Market in Napa, a restaurant for Marin-based Il Fornaio, the just-completed urban wine bar Press Club in the Four Seasons Hotel, or even one of your friends’ homes. The Redwood High School graduate spends weekends visiting the new puppies at the Marin Humane Society, where he’s on the board of directors; chasing his daughters Haley and Maya; and visiting his son Ryan in Portland. Catton says places in Marin like the Farmers’ Market at the Civic Center are a great touchstone for remembering why his family lives here. “Having Frank Lloyd Wright’s work looming as the backdrop to the market is pretty cool, too.”

Describe your personal style. I am a practical, minimalist aesthete—meaning I prefer well-crafted things that are both simple and beautiful. My search is for design that has an enduring style, as opposed to what’s fashionable at the moment.

What do you wear to the office on a normal day?  I need to be dressed to go between the office and a construction site, which usually means dark jeans, urban shoes, a quality dress shirt and an extra layer in case I hit the fog.

What advice do you have for young future architects? Don’t think of architecture and interior design as separate crafts.

How is architecture in the Bay Area different than other parts of the United States? Our temperate (and therefore accessible) climate, combined with our unique passion for connecting with our surroundings, results in a regional style, which is distinguishable.

Who are some of your design influences? Architects Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, Glenn Mercutt, William Turnbull and designer Christian Liaigre are but a few.

What is always in your bag/pockets?  My iPhone and a credit card. I can’t wait until they figure out how to turn the iPhone into a credit card and then I can really simplify.

What is your best cheapo secret?  Il Fornaio is underrated as a great value and a terrific place to bring the kids when Mom and Dad don’t want to compromise their experience.

What is your view of Marin style? It’s a place where you can be comfortable in your own skin, whatever that means to you.

Where do you love to eat in Marin?  Picco in Larkspur is a favorite that is close to home and always hits on all cylinders. Marché aux Fleurs in Ross is a local jewel.

How do you spend your weekends? A regular favorite activity is to head to West Marin, usually grabbing some oysters at Hog Island, and setting up day camp somewhere on Tomales Bay. At the end of the day hopefully there is still some time left to chase my beautiful wife, Chris, around.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on and why? The San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace renovation is hard to top because of the importance of re-envisioning a use for a neglected civic landmark. The result is a wonderful and collaborative reflection of our world-class local food and wine culture. Other than that I would say I most enjoy creating new homes for people because each is such a unique and personal experience.

Where do you go to pamper yourself? Any golf course or any mountain bike trail.

How would your friends describe you? They have called me many things. Hopefully the good things would include “thoughtful” and “good-humored,” as are they.

What was the last book you read and why?  THE GRAIL: A Year Ambling and Shambling through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World by Brian Doyle, because winemaking is such a fascinating blend of art, earth and influences…kind of like architecture.

If your life were a movie, what would be your theme song?  “Time of your Life” by Green Day, but like most music lovers I could probably come up with 10 songs.