Thursday, September 21, 2017

Grace Farms an Architectural Conversation With Nature

I recently attended my nephew’s picture-perfect wedding in Central Park, New York and took the opportunity to visit one of my dearest and long-time friends, Rose. She is as lovely as her namesake and is truly a beautiful soul – inside and out. Although we no longer live in the same town since Rose moved to Connecticut 16 years ago, we remain good friends and always make time together despite our busy lives.

As a Canadian award-winning decorator and designer, I’m inspired to share my story after Rose and I visited Grace Farms, an architectural delight and retreat space not far from her home. Grace Farms is unlike like anything I’ve ever seen. Photographs of this creative marvel designed by two Japanese architects from the Sanaa firm – Kazuyo Najima and Ryue Nishizawa – do not do it justice.

(See http://gracefarms.org)

From an aerial view, the building’s organic shape looks like a stream winding through a vast forested area. It belongs to the Grace Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2009, whose mission is to bring people together to experience the five circles of grace: faith, justice, nature, community, and the arts.

These graces are embodied in the preservation of the unspoiled beauty of the land and the integral flow of the buildings that are free to the public. Grace Farms was built at a cost of approximately $120,000,000 million USD and houses a library, an underground basketball court, a Japanese tea house, a semi-circular theater for faith gatherings, a cafeteria and a welcome center.

Rose and I sat in the library and took in the beautiful Fall scenery while we did a little more research about the place. We looked through dozens of art books stacked in the library and enjoyed the bright windows that welcomed the outside in. Books can be borrowed for free and there is a wealth of inspirational reading on meditative subjects like art and philosophy.

We walked the grounds a little further and fell in love with these great silver chairs. Their minimalist style literally mirrored the clean, sleek lines throughout Grace Farms while adding a whimsical touch that reminded me of very large jelly beans! We of course had to try them out for comfort and we weren’t disappointed!

Before leaving we also had chance to peek into the sanctuary house, an incredibly modern amphitheater wired for optimal sound and lighting. The communal space is used for local speaker series, spiritual ministry outreach and a variety of other performances.

We left feeling amazed and refreshed. This natural retreat space and extraordinary landscape was enhanced by the incredible presence of this floating structure, made from glass, steel and wood.  Grace Farms welcomes visitors to commune with nature, and we left feeling peaceful and happy to be alive!

Our visit has inspired me to be even more creative and, going forward, it will be my mission to bring more of the outdoors in and the indoors out in my design and decorating projects. It also reminds me of the importance of minimalism. Too often things get overdone and it’s not necessary. Especially when you have such a breathtaking view out your window. Thanks Rose for a great retreat and time spent enjoying our friendship.

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