Architect Sean Lockyer: "We’re hoping to become the olive tree cartel in California.”
“I’ve always said that when I retire I’m going to open a nursery,” Sean Lockyer shares. Well, in 2021, it became official: The award-winning architect — known for designing homes in Desert Palisades in Palm Springs and the Echo community in Rancho Mirage — teamed with his longtime collaborator, Eddie Flores of Terra Palms, to establish Ancient Olives. They’re in the niche business of old-growth olive trees, or as Lockyer puts it: “We’re hoping to become the olive tree cartel in California.”
But prospective design/build clients need not fret. Lockyer won’t be hanging his drafting pencil anytime soon. “Not for a couple of decades, I hope,” he says, matter-of-factly. The time just feels right for a new venture. “Eddie and I have been brokering these trees on our own for four or five years now. They’re hard for people to get, and we want to make them available.”
An olive tree can be an epic architectural focal point — the older, the better, because character develops with age. “Some of these trunk diameters are 8-feet wide,” Lockyer explains, noting that the specimens may be up to 200 years old. He and Flores personally visit groves in Central and Northern California to source healthy, shapely options for clients. “They get these knobby legs with bulbous growths at the bottom … In our architectural designs, we [like to marry] that old-world natural beauty with something very contemporary. When you juxtapose those two things, I think it’s quite beautiful. There’s a sort of poetry there.”
Lockyer fixated on indoor-outdoor living environments early on in his career, and when he launched his firm, Studio AR&D, in 2006, that direction set his developments apart. The Philadelphia native comes from two generations of real estate developers. From a young age, he remembers riding tractors and creating small rock gardens at their project sites. Today, the modernist master continues to hand-select every tree and boulder on his own projects, and through Ancient Olives, he is extending the opportunity to procure an old-growth tree to you.