About James Hubbell

Ilan-Lael Co-founder

Changing myths…and lives

James Hubbell is the principal creative force behind Ilan-Lael. He along with his wife Anne Hubbell are the co-founders of Ilan-Lael. James is an artist, architectural designer, a poet, jeweler, sculptor and designer in metal, wood, stained glass, and tile. He is also a teacher to students of architecture and design throughout the world.

An internationally renowned artist, poet, and architectural designer over the past seven decades, James shares his vision of the spirit of nature — his deep reverence for the environment — through the use of nature’s materials, forms, and colors. James is widely known for his organic-style buildings which are complete works of art. He sculpts one-of-a-kind living environments from natural materials that provide shelter and inspiration for those who wish to live in harmony with nature. His art and architecture has been expressed in homes, schools, gardens, pavilions, nature centers, monasteries, museums, and peace parks around the world.

James attended Whitney Art School and Cranbrook Art Academy. Throughout his incredibly prolific career he has worked in stained glass, iron, stone, precious metals and carved wood to create sculptures, fountains, gardens, paintings, jewelry, and doors and other objects and architectural features.  These can be seen in hundreds of private homes, as well as school buildings, public parks, chapels, and churches.

The Hubbells built a fantastical and very livable house and studios complex (the Ilan-Lael Center) in Santa Ysabel, California, “from the earth up.” Its unique organic architecture embodies their belief in the harmony that can exist between humans and the natural world. Ilan-Lael has been toured by thousands of visitors and featured in dozens of publications, television programs, and documentaries.

He may be best known for his Sea Ranch Chapel on the Northern California coast, and for a commission known as “The Doors of Abu Dhabi” which are located in a palace in the United Arab Emirates.  But James takes the greatest pride in his and Anne’s work toward bridging differences and changing the lives of individuals and communities through the integration of arts, nature and beauty into everyday life. To this end, they founded the Ilan-Lael Foundation nearly 40 years ago.

Among many community projects marked by his personal volunteerism, he has helped for more than 30 years with the design and hands-on construction of two schools in an under-served neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico, known at Colonia Esperanza. Since 1994, working with hundreds of volunteers, he has helped bring to life the Pacific Rim Park concept which now reaches seven countries around the world.

“Art and beauty,” James says, “can bridge prejudices, build lasting friendships, change people’s visions of who they are and what is possible in life, and, in fact, change our myths.”

James Hubbell in his Santa Ysabel studio. Photo by John Durant