I’m redesigning our website and designing a marketing campaign cause MKDB is evolving and I’d like to refine our message. The hunt is on for an un-tag line which feels icky except that there is something elegant in evoking a whole philosophy in just a few words. It’s kinda like how architecture can speak volumes even when it’s unintentional. MKDB is all about intention and my intention is ever and always towards harmony.
I love my business and the impact it’s having on our world, I feel we make people’s lives a little easier a little more graceful by helping them create a home that transcends their needs and aspirations. When we’re done a home I often wonder at why it took so much work, it has such an easy feeling to it that you’d never know we try too hard. Which we do. If someone else can handle the job I usually refer it to them cause MKDB is about an elite level of design, without being elitist. I used to like the phase construction couture but it feels snobby and that isn’t us at all, we’re anything but pretentious.
I have a client who lived with a dark very narrow galley kitchen with a dead end for twenty years. All it took was adding an opening to the other side of it and a window onto the dining room and it’s such a happy place now. It remains a narrow galley kitchen cause in renovations the art is in finding the opportunities in the restrictions yet now this home welcomes guests and allows people to share in the experience of preparing meals which is always so lovely, especially when they help with the dishes. (I recently invented, “After Dishes Mints” you know, to bribe my nieces but the problem is when I have everyone over they’re too stuffed to care about chocolates by the time dishes are needing cleaning. I’m still working on the prototype and will keep you posted)
In the “sexy” condo I was living in before this it had also had a galley kitchen with a dead end and even though it was open to the living room over the counter I would feel anxious and trapped as soon as someone got in there with me cause I couldn’t get out, even though I liked pretty much everyone who ever got in there with me, it broke the covenant of good design: we gotta feel safe. One of my first and deepest kung fu lessons was to NEVER block the path. We don’t feel good in spaces we feel trapped in and it makes us a little bit tense and more inclined to fight when we can’t take flight. Ideally both are off the table when were sitting around sharing dinner with friends and a table with rounded edges can do a lot to create such ease, Arthur was onto something. The sad thing about both these kitchens that generated discord as opposed to harmony is how easily they could be fixed.
The problem I think, originates on paper cause we’re asking it to stand in for experience, we’re too linear in our process. Nature never grows anything in a straight line cause it’s just not efficient or yummy the food is I know but never as good as something we foraged through prickly bushes to find like raspberries are. We need round, holistic interactive, what I mean is interactive design where each element informs the design and it’s process oriented in an evolutionary way not in an abcdefg kind of way… You can’t feel how it’s gonna feel on paper or even with really cool 3 d graphics, it makes a pretty picture for sure, it’s seductive but it ain’t gonna translate into a space that works, it can’t. That’s why my company is design build.
Life and relationships can be so hard sometimes, it’s so easy to fall into conflict so it’s critical that our surroundings foster peace. Having a space that really works makes our relationships easier. Peace doesn’t define a style, busy and edgy can be harmonious and it’s often my favorite kind of design. (I love Gaudi he’s exciting) What I’m speaking to is something more subtle and elusive, something that feels safe and easy peasy… that’s what I mean when I say peace. That’s another one I’ve been playing around with easy peasy is how your life feels when your home works. Home needs to be a place of refuge, someplace restorative and kind, so we’re strengthened to share more with our world, to create more comfort for every element in our world so our inner harmony can radiate out, so the feeling of home is pervasive, not invasive. This vision is about respecting all habitats and homes and honoring all of the planets needs, this is about being in harmony not making trouble. In the ancient Chinese way and any ancient culture we weren’t so divorced from our surroundings from our environment and nature, there’s a reason that we are raping the planet and it’s cause of this disconnect. There’s luck to be experienced in well designed spaces because they honor natural laws that are I feel all about harmony, the balance of the yin and yang and the delight of how they dance. Luck is more of an honoring of such principals not a superstitious thing as it is sort of defined in the west. This is what I am always heading towards when I create a space and what I’m aspiring to sharing with everyone we work with, how to get in touch with this inner harmony, cause it’s in us, each one of us. Sometimes hidden and hidden from but still, distilled within our dna cause we’re all made of the same stuff.
And there’s no formula for each what is restorative is different and this is where I have been reflecting on the word attunement. I was first introduced to this word by Gabor Matte, in his brilliant book called, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which was all about addiction and how the roots of it are in our childhood experiences of abandonment. What I gleamed from his book is how when a child has an experience of someone being attuned to their reality, their needs and feelings and it’s mirrored back to them with kindness, it’s then that a child develops immunities to addiction. By addiction we’re not just talking about cocaine or alcohol, there’s television and video games, black berries and sex also mundane things for lots of years I was painfully addicted to movies, I was a total junky. Still love them but it’s shifted into a peaceful place. My favorite definition of addiction is whatever comes between me and God and by God, I wouldn’t presume to define, I love how the Jewish culture doesn’t use a name, and still I love that one when it’s left unfathomable and mysterious, when it’s ok to leave it undefined. Most of the trouble comes from when people are trying to enforce their definition of it. What it (God) sort of relates to for me is about connection, with others and with my most enlightened self. The self we all share serial killers bugs and moi… ah finally a joke, sort of like one at least… I worry that since I am becoming a more regular writer I am becoming a more regular writer and I’m not sure I like it, but will save that story for another day.
I know that we share enlightenment inside of us, we’re every bit as brilliant as a perfect sunset, ironic that I’ve heard it’s pollution that can make them look really sexy, so sad. Cause the pollution is born of our addictions to fossil fuels and cars in this case but it’s that we tend towards addiction, that we need to flood the wounds that we lack an experience of attunement that is the source of the problem. I drive my mechanic crazy with car withdrawal pretty much every time I bring it in and that’s even without drinking coffee. Addiction is deeper than that it’s what keeps me from wanting to connect with you and keeps me from taking risks, what makes me want to flee on whatever subtle level that plays out, it’s what keeps me small and the antidote to addiction is compassion I know cause I have been blessed with deep experiences of compassion. Which is perhaps what Gabor Mate calls attunment. Spell check doesn’t know this word, but I didn’t make it up he did and it’s good one. It even sounds soothing and that’s how our homes should sound.
Our homes need to be attuned to our needs which usually blossoms into an element of universality. In my experience the more specific we become the more cosmic the experience actually is so such a home could nourish future inhabitants too, cause it’s built to last using conscientious material choices and inspired design. Of course I am writing about a physical structure but home is much bigger than the mere physical and it’s about how the mere can co create the rest.
Inspired design isn’t arbitrary or wishy washy like it might sound, the inspiration is brewed of humility and listening to needs and wants not just ours but our worlds… it all sounds so groovy but actually its more like science but a science we have lost the art of or the place where science and art meet cause they are born of the same essence.
When I am in a space that my company has created I’ll often wonder what took so much work. It all feels so simple and easy but getting there was fussy and infinitely detail oriented, catching little site lines that need minor adjustments, and re-hanging cabinets that don’t read just right, sometimes a few times, even changing the orientation of the stairs,(no small feat) which is a little bit absurd but made it so great. It’s all part of our process which is all about opportunities not mistakes. The stairs would have been ok the other way and my clients wouldn’t have had a problem with it cause it’s not their job to, it’s ours, we’re the seers we can imagine it even better so it’s our job to create it. We each hold an essential role in our ecosystem and each one is equally precious when we each person up and do what we can it all comes together harmoniously, when the addictions are not getting center stage but we’re experiencing the freedom and even bliss sometimes of acceptance of our duty.
I aspire to creating homes that are compassionate, safe havens to rest our weary hearts, our hearts are gonna get weary if we’re giving it’s just how it is. What would make you feel at home? A place for meditation that is beautiful so even if I don’t meditate it creates a sort of inner vista or courtyard in my home and I don’ ride myself for not sitting everyday. It’s a compassionate space that welcomes and never berates me and I find myself drawn into it more and more which is so healing. Or would you prefer a studio space where you can create a mess and leave it out? I love me some mess and a good home can cushion that and not make us feel crazy. Would you like a place to tuck guests so out of the way that they can outstay their welcome cause they’re flying under the radar and you forget they are here? Or a climbing wall in your living room and a hammock above your desk?
My favorite Buddha story is from when he was a rabbit and the parrot and fox and elephant were sitting around the fire with him and asked if friendship is part of the path and the Buddha rabbit answered that, “friendship is the whole path.” We want our homes to be good friends to us and to share that friendship with our friends and grow this too in our world. When everything has a place, there’s more time for each other. And with this I will say good night, perhaps my good friend is right, “Inspiring Homes” says it best, he came up with that one for me and it leaves room to breath.