written by:
June 12, 2016
Originally published in Indoor/Outdoor Living
as
Editor's Letter
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's June 2016 issue.
Atop the carport is a Hopper table and shade by Extremis

In 2006, Dirk Wynants, owner of the outdoor furniture company Extremis, purchased a circa-1850s farmhouse in Poperinge, a municipality in the Flanders region of Belgium. He spent the next seven years updating it, while staying within the area’s stringent preservation codes. H

Originally appeared in A Kubrick-Esque Farmhouse Kicks Its Fossil Fuel Habit
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A jewelry studio clad on two sides in local flora

Designer Monica Berdin—who is married to architect Clinton Cuddington—worked with Aloe Designs to cover two sides of their backyard studio in drought-tolerant flora. A sheltered deck features a custom fire pit and a pair of turquoise Condesa chairs.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Wild Garden Leaps Off the Walls of This Backyard Build
2 / 4
Fiberglass facade of warehouse in Charleston, South Carolina.

Web developer Rich Yessian involved local preservation groups early and often to gain permission to unite home, office, and outdoors at an aged warehouse that, according to Sanborn Maps, predates the Civil War.

 

Photo by 
Originally appeared in A Modern Home Floats Above a Traditional Skyline
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The exterior of a Venice bungalow.

In more recent years, Venice has largely evolved into an enclave simultaneously signifying creativity and affluence. Most of those modest bungalows have been polished and rejuvenated, and in the case of Tracy O’Brien and Thaddeus Stauber’s residence, updated incrementally over time. Tracy, a banker executive and an art collector, and Thaddeus, an attorney who works in the art world, bought and made renovations to their 1950s bungalow in the early 2000s. But after living nearly a decade in the single-story, two-bedroom house, the couple turned to architecture firm SPACE International, headed by Michael Ferguson and Kirby Smith, and to Michael’s wife, Kathleen Ferguson, a landscape designer, for a more extensive update to the structure.

Photo by 
Originally appeared in Amid a Hotbed of Architecture, This Home Holds Its Own
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Atop the carport is a Hopper table and shade by Extremis

In 2006, Dirk Wynants, owner of the outdoor furniture company Extremis, purchased a circa-1850s farmhouse in Poperinge, a municipality in the Flanders region of Belgium. He spent the next seven years updating it, while staying within the area’s stringent preservation codes. H

“The house appears before us, surrounded by a mass of flowers, wide lawns resplendent in the richest of greens extend…beyond them, pergolas, orchards, meadows, and woods seem to stretch away into the distance. A perfect, secluded world of its own, a little paradise on Earth. Here, if anywhere, is a surviving fragment of the old, placid way of life that stands, lonely as an island, in the brief transience of the modern world.”Hermann Muthesius, The English House, 1904-5

We aim to capture the joy of being outside. From earth-moving artists like Maya Lin to otherworldly creations at the hands of landscape professionals, this issue celebrates open-air design moves that surprise, delight, and restore us. 

Though the formal garden as described by Hermann Muthesius—a leading, turn-of-the-century architectural thinker—may seem an erstwhile notion today, paired with our lineup of stories, his passage aptly highlights the many ways in which our relationship to the outdoors, specifically the domesticated outdoors, has greatly diversified. The extent to which a garden can be designed has intensified, as has as ourconsideration and value of nature, in a time when green spaces are not merely sites of leisure, but a growing and global environmental necessity. We are gratified that nearly all of the projects in this issue employ drought-resistant or native plantings—hopefully, a sign of the times. 

What hasn’t changed since Muthesius’s day is the human instinct for connecting with the land, however conventional or unconventional. But finding solitude in an urban environment takes resourcefulness. In Charleston, South Carolina, a web developer wanted to own a green space in the city, a quest that led him to the top of a warehouse, where he now lives in an aerie with a lush living roof. In Vancouver, the Cuddington family is blessed to have a backyard, and by adding a tiny structure cloaked in local fauna, they created more usable space—as well as a singular landscape to enjoy together. A property in Tiburon, California, directly references an English garden, imagined as a series of unfolding rooms, yet it presents a wildly contemporary view of how an outdoor space can function. With its fantastical topography and unusual points of interest, it inspires playful interaction to a much higher degree than one might imagine of the domestic landscapes in Muthesius’s time.

The author’s reference to a “secluded little paradise on Earth” also highlights the notion of an outdoor space that’s nonetheless contained and maintained privately. This certainly is the case for a renovated bungalow in Venice, California; a new build in Austin, Texas; and a rehabilitated ranch house in the Hollywood Hills, all of which boast architectural components configured—and reconfigured—to take in the best of the elements. 

We also appreciate a countryside house in Belgium, where furniture designer Dirk Wynants applied his resources to produce a home that’s both respectful of an original 1850s farmhouse, and informed by a deep-seated responsibility to live an ecologically sensitive life.

We end with a tiny floating sauna off the Seattle coast: an optimistic, go-with-the-flow creation that’s as close to a little paradise on Earth as any. If nothing else, it reminds us that escaping to a perfect, secluded world of one’s own can be just a leap—or a swim—away.

Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief
amanda@dwell.com / @AmandaDameron

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