Recently, I was fortunate to be introduced by friends to an immersive experience called Theater of the Mind. It’s a new theatrical experience that claims, “you will see, feel, taste, and hear it”. Co-created by Academy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning artist David Byrne and writer Mala Gaonkar, it was a fascinating thought experiment designed to immerse you in someone else's memory and perception of events, defined by objects of their past. In that inexplicable way that coincidence weaves the various parts of our life together, this experience resonated deeply with one of my recent projects; the launch of our new Rifugio Modern website.
The team here at Rifugio Modern has been working on a new website for almost a year, planning and designing, with the utmost intention, the new experience that we sought to offer our visitors. This was no small task. But aren’t websites supposed to be easy these days, just pick a template and plug and play? While that’s true, and indeed websites designed to sell furniture have proliferated in recent years, few are of much use to the end user and most are simply designed to coerce an impulse purchase as quickly as possible.
Let me explain the challenge that we identified. I will also attempt to explain why this design process related to my experience with the Theater of the Mind. When I conceived of Rifugio Modern and chose the Italian word “Rifugio”, to be the basis of the design firm’s name, there was serious intention behind that choice. “Rifugio” is the Italian word for refuge in the sense of a refuge, a place of repose, safety, and rest. Most often in Italy, the word “Rifugio” refers to the high-mountain refuges that climbers use for shelter and rest on long excursions into the high Alps. Being a Colorado-based design firm, using the word “Rifugio” made sense in many ways. But one less obvious use of the word was that as related to the idea of one’s home as a place of refuge from a greater world, of work and finances, and battles and challenges. One’s home is the ultimate place to which to retreat from the outer world and find respite.
That sense of “Home” rarely found by the occupant of a space is in most cases derived from a feeling of safety and security, often based on feelings of nostalgia. More times than not, childhood memories are the basis for those feelings; the memory of the form of a favorite family lounge chair, the materiality of a cherished writing desk used for homework, wood grain details repeated throughout a home’s casework, a tactile flooring that was prominent in a favorite room, a prominent dining table where family meals were shared; the list could ramble indefinitely. The point is that design, furniture, cabinetry, colors, and finishes, can act as very powerful anchors to our past, tying us to times of safety, clarity, security, and happiness. This fact alone elevates Architecture and Interior design to a level of psychological intervention that we would all do well to pay attention to. That power, held within the act of design, gives us reason to put great care into the curated experience that one calls home.
With the above understanding, we faced the perplexing dilemma of how to offer a level of curated experience to our customers, through a website, worthy of their needs. While I will not pretend that we have satisfactorily answered that question yet, I do want you to know that we have begun the endeavor of answering it. As with anything, one must start somewhere. We began with our favorite objects of design, shown in their most simple form, viewed induvial and without context. Please look at what we have done and let us know your thoughts.
Some aspects of design are less about objects and more about spaces. A closet or a Kitchen denotes space, even while composed of individual design elements. These special spaces offer the most direct opportunities to create a complete experience. We wanted our clientele to see as many concepts as possible in their nostalgic search for a place, for refuge.
We are nothing without our customers and their beautiful projects. We create for them, at their behest, and what we do has everything to do with their memories. They chose the beautiful sites on which we build, based on their memories, their lives, and where those lives have taken them.
It’s been said many times, but it bears repeating, and should never be taken for granted. True beauty is in the details. Success is in the details. The infinite is in the details. Details are what we offer. We envision them, design them, and build them. Step by step, millimeter by painstaking millimeter. We felt it important to show you.