Our New Editor-at-Large, Heather Sandy Hebert, Shares 5 Trends That Inspire Her Right Now: Craft Artists, Design for Wellness, Historic Homes and More

For me, 2022 is a year of gratitude. Gratitude that, for all of the tumult in the world over the past few years, we are able to make space for the people and places that fulfill us. Gratitude that we in the design community are moving forward in our embrace of things that matter: community, creativity, people and the planet.

And it’s with gratitude that I start my role as editor-at-large of SPACES. I look forward to having the opportunity to make connections, celebrate creativity, beauty and craft, and inspire our readers. Throughout the year I’ll be moderating SPACES virtual events that will bring together leaders in architecture and design for engaging conversations; our next event, SPACES Modern, is on April 27.  

In the meantime, here are 5 trends I’m excited about right now. You can expect to see more on all these themes in SPACES. 

Wellness as an Essential Element of Design

downtempo exterior
In an increasingly fragile environment, sustainability and resilience are essential components of good design. This home, designed by St. Helena-based Signum Architecture, is built using a hybrid of prefabricated and custom construction, with materials and systems designed to be fire resistant. Terramoto contributed the landscape design. Photo by Bruce Damonte.

The words wellness and sustainability are by now familiar terms to us all, something every architect, designer and landscape designer strives for. What excites me is the vigor with which so many are leaning in and advocating for design principles and technologies that can make a difference for the health and wellness of their clients and the wellbeing of the planet. 

From architects advocating for, and using, “Passive House” principles that maximize indoor air quality and minimize energy use, to designers who are intentional in their choice of materials, to landscape designers who look to local ecosystems to inspire their plant palettes, I see it everywhere I look. 

Designers tell me about working with their clients to create spaces that feel authentic and secure, giving them the connection and respite they need for very busy lives. Architects strive to create places with meaning, what architect Juancarlos Fernandez of Signum Architecture calls homes with “a big soul.”

Reimagining Historic Properties with Interiors for Modern Living

cottage reborn rear
This renovation by architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson maintains the cottage’s traditional farmhouse character from the street, while opening the house up in the back in a more contemporary arrangement of indoor/outdoor spaces. Photo by Matthew Millman.
cottage reborn master bath
Within the historic cottage’s reimagined interior, a fully-integrated master suite is tucked up under the eaves, the folds of the all-white walls following the existing roofline in a complex work of origami. The floors are whitewashed reclaimed Douglas Fir, and custom cabinets are vertical grain Hemlock. Both the architecture and the interior design is by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Photo by Matthew Millman.

There is something so compelling about creating a modern life within a structure with history and a story to tell. It’s not only fulfilling, with the opportunity for beautiful results, but reimagining existing homes is one of the most sustainable things we can do. 

I, along with my co-author, Chase Reynolds Ewald, included 2 examples of reimagined cottages in our book, “At Home in the Wine Country”: one a cottage in a vineyard, and one a historic property in downtown Sonoma. Both inspiring. 

For the property we called “Cottage Reborn,” the architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson carried out the redesign in a way that left the cottage architecture and modern interiors distinct. The result is magical, authentic and eminently livable.

Artists and the Designers Who Recognize Them

mead quinn
In this living room, designer Mead Quin incorporates vessels designed by local artist Erin McGuiness. Designer and artist bonded over their shared appreciation for the inherent spirituality of design. Photo by David Duncan Livingston.

We’re at an interesting moment in architecture and design. Technologies like prefab construction and even 3D printed structures and furnishings offer exciting opportunities to promote sustainability and provide housing to those who need it. At the same time, it feels more important than ever to celebrate craftsmanship and art, particularly locally. 

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Berkeley-based artist Erin McGuiness and talk with her about the spiritual qualities she brings to her work, and her connection with designer Mead Quin, who has included Erin’s pieces in her projects. Both artist and designer talked about the importance of these relationships, and how designers can act as translators, connecting their clients with artists and their unique visions.

Nature as a Muse for Design

forest aerie courtyard
Anchored by a single, majestic oak, the courtyard acts as the organizing principle for the design of Forest Aerie, a transparent home by Signum Architecture that is, at its core, a celebration of nature. The landscape design is by Jack Chandler Associates. Photo by Bruce Damonte.

Connection to nature is integral to our wellbeing. In projects both rural and urban, large and small, architects and designers are drawing upon nature as an inspiration. 

forest aerie master bath
Nature is a frame for wellbeing, and provides all the artwork needed in this master bath in Signum Architecture’s project named “Forest Aerie.” Photo by Bruce Damonte.

That inspiration can be expressed through indoor-outdoor spaces that draw nature indoors (or occupants outdoors), through the use of natural materials, or by using the organic forms and beautiful design solutions seen in nature as guidance. That guidance can manifest in everything from the arrangement of spaces and whole-house systems to furnishings and finishes. 

Everything is possible, and no space is too small, or too urban, to have nature as a muse.

Indoor-Outdoor Living, All the Time

black box interior
At Black Box House, designed by Sonoma-based Bevan & Associates, individual guest cottages enjoy their own unique connections to the outdoors and pool. Outdoor Magis Spun Chairs are from Design Within Reach. The landscape architecture is by Lucas & Lucas. Photo by Douglas Friedman.

I live in Northern California, so I admit to viewing design through a Western lens. In my first two books, I wrote about design in California’s wine country, which is of course blessed with temperate weather, so indoor-outdoor living is always on my radar. In my writing then and since, I’ve seen the approach to indoor-outdoor living grow ever more interesting, and the connections between the work of interior designers, architects and landscape architects ever more integrated. 

I have yet to meet a designer who doesn’t love the idea of early, close collaboration between the design disciplines. As a result, windows frame not only far-off views, but landscape vignettes close at hand. Walls opening to the outdoors aren’t just in main living areas, but bedrooms, kitchens and baths. The flow of spaces takes into account patterns of living that may occur—at many times of the year—indoors and out. 

Products play a role here too, such as performance fabrics that work indoors and out, and windows and doors that disappear when open but are seamlessly designed to protect indoor air quality and maximize energy efficiency when closed.

Which brings me back to wellbeing. I find each of these elements of design exciting because each promotes an approach that is positive in every sense. As architects, designers and homeowners continue to explore their creativity and what is possible, I’m delighted that they are also actively engaged in enhancing the lives and wellbeing of not only their clients but also their communities and their planet. These are more than trends, they are design principles that are here to stay.

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heather hebert

Heather Sandy Hebert is the editor-at-large of SPACES. Her passions are writing, design and wine. She spent more than 25 years directing marketing for an international architecture firm. She left that role in 2017 to pursue her love of storytelling, and she now consults with numerous design, hospitality and winery clients, helping them develop and convey their stories. She is the author of two books: The New Architecture of Wine, and At Home in the Wine Country.