Home is formative in our identity. It is not just where we live, but also where we grow, learn and create. For the Black Artists + Designers Guild, founded in 2018 by Brooklyn-based artist Malene Barnett, it is the focus of its latest project. Named the Obsidian virtual concept house this online home of the future investigates how to create a space where the one million black families in the US (and others around the world) can thrive.
With rooms conceived by some of the most inspiring and influential black artists, designers and architects working today, it is a collective vision of a hopeful, empowering future.
Open for the whole of February, the house’s rooms explore the ideas of wellness, identity, legacy and ancestral futures. Here, we take a closer look at just some of the spaces, from the celebratory Caribbean aesthetic of the Royal Bedroom Oasis by Marie Burgos to the golden glow of interior designer Leyden Lewis’s Room of Requirement (you can read more about Leyden, one of the Black Artists + Designers Guild’s founding members in our March issue).
A Place of Rest and Respite by Bernadette Berry, b-Framework
Designed as a haven for the body and mind, this bedroom is a minimal space. It was inspired by architect Jack Travis’s 10 principles of black cultural design and is intended as a sanctuary. A need for which Bernadette Berry thinks has taken on new meaning ‘given the global, political and cultural climate of our forseeable future.’ b-framework.com
Djembe Room by Danielle Fennoy, Revamp Interior Design
A living room created with the idea of bringing generations together, this space is about connection. ‘Connection to our heritage, to our successes, to our many talents and our creativity, to our joy, to our rhythm, to our struggle and pain, to our complexity and diversity,’ explains Danielle Fennoy. ‘Blackness, ’ she adds, ‘can be found in every corner of this room.’ revampinteriordesign.com
The Room of Requirement by Leyden Lewis, Leyden Lewis Design Studio
Featuring mainly gold, which Leyden Lewis describes as ‘an ancient birthright of Black people,’ this room is a wellness space with a futuristic high-tech edge. Robotic arms with customised attachments are designed to perform massage and acupuncture. The home spa of tomorrow it is a place for ‘self awareness and exploration of your body,’ explains Lewis. leydenlewis.com
Royal Bedroom Oasis by Marie Burgos, Marie Burgos Design
The Obsidian virtual house’s main bedroom, this space was inspired by designer Marie Burgos’s Caribbean heritage. ‘The idea was to retrace our diaspora as a global, multicultural experience – the indigenous, the aborigines, the Africans and the Caribbean Indians,’ she explains. Featuring elements from every one of these experiences, the space is, she explains, ‘nurturing, supportive and empowering.’ marieburgosdesign.com
The Artist Studios & Garden ‘I am good enough’ by Linda Allen, Linda Allen Designs
Imagined as a haven for a black overachiever, this area of Obsidian is a place for self-growth, with therapeutic design elements. ‘It aims to relieve the artist of academic and mental pressures to create a legacy,’ explains Linda Allen. ‘Education is one of the ways our ancestors pulled through slavery and gave us opportunities to make a difference in today’s world,’ she says, adding that ‘emotional design expression is the future.’ lindaallendesigns.com
The Barka Dai ‘An abundance of welcome’ by Cheryl Umbles, Cheryl Umbles Interior design
‘As people of the African diaspora, our heritage has always been about opening our hearts and home to others,’ says Cheryl Umbles, who imagines Obsidian’s entrance area as a welcoming space. Incredibly inviting, it is also practical, with features influenced by lessons learned from the current global pandemic. A temperature-controlled exterior area is created outside the home for hand washing, with touchless controls. cherylumbles.com
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