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Design: How to Reconnect with Your Home

The exquisite designs of 'anti-architect' Antti Lovag remind us that we don't need to leave nature and good times at the front door. Best known for his unforgettable work in France creating Palais Bulles (Bubble House), recent times are allowing us to truly appreciate his nonconformist approach to design.

Linking bubbles at Palais Bulles, Théoule-sur-Mer, France
Palais Bulles in Théoule-sur-Mer, France by Antti Lovag

Staying home is the art of staying safe these days and while it's not possible to put the ocean in your living room, Antti Lovag taught us to engage, play and flex with nature in the home. His deeply appreciated concept of 'Habitology' condemned the harsh dichotomy of design to organic living, "human beings have confined themselves to cubes full of dead ends and angles that impede our movement and break our harmony. The straight line is an aggression against nature".

The 20s have already invited us to reconnect with our living spaces, now a century after Lovag’s birth we reflect on the man who was devoid of rules and in touch with his senses. So how can you too find freedom in curation at home?

Let there be (soft) light

For all the days that I have lived the sun has risen in the east, unveiling the night to beam energy far and wide. If you're lucky enough to have windows to welcome light in, think about it's exposure and ensure you're making the most of it's reach. You might need to redirect furniture, shift plants and change the drapes, natural light is a gift.

At the base of the brain there is what we know as ‘The Pons’, an area that relays sensory information to the body. It assists in the preparation for sleep and welcomes soft light in the evening. By hosting lamps and warm lights through the home we create a sunset like ambience that gives the mind and body a delicate transition into night.

Your friends are in the kitchen

You don’t need to be a sous chef to enjoy a good meal every day. Taste is a very close ally to smell, and much of our experience of food is olfactory, meaning the pleasure of eating is mostly in the nose.

One friend to have close by is a good cook book, or a few. Try a simple but imaginative recipe bible such as Vegetables by Antonio Caluccio for something a little more hardy Matty Matheson never disappoints. Keeping on the theme of men in the kitchen because.. well we love that.. I recently received wisdom about "speaking to your ingredients" when watching Jose Andres caressing the heart of a tomato..

Have you ever seen those pantry’s that neatly contain almost all loose and dry items in jars? They’re usually cared for by the kind of people who own a label maker. While you might not possess OCD-grade organisation skills, order is certainly key in the kitchen.

Thirdly, real friends in the kitchen. I’ve been to parties where it’s the most vibrant place to be. Food is for sharing, Lovag created meeting and eating areas that were inviting, circular and playful. The ritual of dining together is ancient and sacred.

The subtlety of sound

Whether you're alone or wrapped in the fervour of friends and laughter, sounds are everywhere. Even deep silence has it's own rhythm, the breath. Conversations, breeze, jazz, the sound of streets moving and morning birds are all whispers that remind us we are alive.

This note is not to prescribe music to listen to, but instead to welcome awareness and sensitivity to noise in your sanctuary. The outside world is full of non-consensual sounds that distract us but in the home our ears are undivided to the environment at hand, dotted with words and song. Gift yourself silence between interludes of dance and entertainment.

Scents to accompany your mood

One of the easiest connections to define our nature to the wild is through smell. Like Earth’s flora and fauna, we make sense of the world by searching with scent and producing unique blends of our own. In the home we can create another world, reflecting landscapes in nature and inspiring feelings, some call this practice aromatherapy.

Essential oils have long burned in homes, offering respite from the outer world and many other benefits. Perfect Potions offer a wide range of blends and information. For sleek and low fuss diffusers check out these Electric Vaporisers.

Art through touch

Maya Angelou once said, “find a beautiful piece of art.. fall in love.. admire it.. and realise that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.” We are walking talking extensions of art, there's a current bound to nature that passes through us. The poet Ruth Stone described it as a "thunderous train of air" that she would feel coming across the field where she would be working as a young woman. She would "run like hell" in order to catch it and put it to paper.

You may prefer to host art on your walls, but I encourage you to explore your own gesture of creativity, touch in a present moment of play. This could be massage, sculpting, colouring or painting the room you always wanted to change.

Allowing yourself to get lost in something that sets the mind free is what I like to imagine Antti encouraged most. He spent a lot of time alone but he always made art with the intention to connect people. Both Lovag and the owner for twenty years, Pierre Cardin have now passed on and like their colourful creative lives, the terracotta cells of Palais Bulles will live on in memory as the quirky, space-age home for the senses.


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