The wheel, earth, hands—holding interior and exterior in balance. As I imagined each sitting at their potter’s wheel, in Anjou and Mallorca respectively, I started to see everywhere in this issue, projects that were at once intentional and responsive—sometimes with wobbly beginnings but always creating quietly thoughtful spaces. Throughout was the hand-made, craftsmanship that leaned in toward simplicity and centered a basic architectural gesture: family home, artist retreat, personal refuge, or fully-integrated design space.
Even the most potentially resistant container—a château-folie anchored in the 17th century—was made pliable with patience and focus. Céline Barrère, Cécile Simon and Violette Plateau engaged local craftsmen to “magnify the volume and restore the interior to its former glory.” At the same time, they understood that the “volume” had to be welcoming, open and flexible enough to hold the individualities of ever-changing resident artists. [The Château de la Haute Borde: An artistic haven in the Loire Valley] Farther afoot, at Gairnshiel Lodge, in the Scottish Highlands, the not-quite-wild (“untouched…pure… brutal”) is at the door, so to speak, invited in through the color and texture of the décor. These considerations activate a calm and quiet in the “pure spaces”of the manor house, now furnished only with “the objects it requires, but not a lot of extras.” [Gairnshiel Lodge Pure and Simple]
Perhaps nowhere is the sense of vessel more essentially articulated than in the architectural work of Iker Ochotorena, whose houses provide protection from the outside and also hold open a spaciousness for calm. Writer Inma Buendia traces the “simple—but not banal” look of his work to his Basque character and artistic heritage and Mari Luz Vidal’s photographs frame the shape and value of an “elemental, restrained, and simple style.”[Iker Ochotorena: Perfect Emptiness]
And then there is the uncontained refreshment, on every level, of Wolfgat, a restaurant open to South Africa’s coastal breezes and ambient music—where Chef Kobus van der Merwe’s innovative courses translate the local to the palate. Neither container nor volume, what is shaped by hand— a meal with friends—remains deliciously ephemeral. [The Accidental Perfectionism of Wolfgat]