When he takes on a project, Isleib's primary concern is the relationship between client and designer. Isleib is committed to spending time getting to know a client and, in a residential project, learning how that client lives. He believes in fully researching a project and identifying the right collaborative team. Good communication is essential throughout the process.
Also of primary importance to Isleib is that both he and his client understand the land upon which a project will be built. Isleib takes his time feeling a site before embarking on a design. In the case of his own home overlooking the Connecticut River, that meant selectively clearing several acres of woodland himself and deciding over the course of four years just where his house should be built and how it should grow out of the land. “It’s an evolution,” Isleib says. “You have to start with the land and the view and that and the client’s needs determine the shape of the project.”
When working on a restoration, Isleib believes in getting to know the structure undergoing renovation. “It’s a balance between trying to preserve a house and its spiritual integrity and making it function for today’s lifestyle,” he says.
A final essential component of an Isleib project is space planning. In designing a house, for instance, Isleib will integrate the furnishings into the architecture. “Empty space has no meaning unless you know how it’s going to function,” he says.