For years my house in Dallas was not so much a blissful retreat, but a place I went to cook (on rare occasions), do homework with the children, and watch Law and Order. This is a pitiful confession, but I make it to explain why my recent stay at Canyon Ranch health resort in the Berkshires had such a powerful effect.
Aside from the fact that I wasn’t required to cook or figure out 8th grade math, my husband and I stayed in a room that we never wanted to leave – not even for a stone massage or meditation class. The room, designed by William Caligari of Great Barrington, Mass., was hotel design at its best: In this case, the designer took the assignment to extend the restorative powers of the spa to 126 guest rooms, and succeeded.
Caligari did not go in for the obvious Zen theme or cheap theatrics, nor was it a monastic cell. Instead, he created a traditional but very simple world for resting, sleeping, reading, and bathing. The linens were of residential quality. The room was not so much about a powerful aesthetic, but balance. It helped me understand that balance is deeper than symmetry; it reassures us by projecting an innate sense of order. And there were little touches: The bath and desk were topped with bonsai trees. The art was beautiful (in fact, most of the walls in the complex were covered in outstanding works by local artists). We each had two reading lamps, one on the bedside table, the other unnoticeably attached to the headboard. Even my husband, the Mr. Type A, found serenity in the room, working his New York Times crosswords while listening to his recently purchased new age CDs. When we came back to Dallas, we were inspired. After redecorating everything in our house but the master bedroom, we were finally ready to finish our own room and create a sanctuary we could enjoy every day.
Contract design – that is, design of anything non-residential – can be a source of many wonderful ideas. In this issue, as a special departure, we decided to explore local products and trends and the people in Dallas who are doing exceptional work in restaurants, hotels, and offices. I learned as much from Caligari’s hotel room as I have from the piles of design books in my office. And I came to realize that inspiration is all around us; it’s just a matter of slowing down long enough to take it all in.
Enjoy this issue and let me hear from you.
Editor and Publisher
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