This past Fall I had the pleasure of contributing to an uplifting panel focusing on wellness & its role in design. Sponsored by Design News Now, Courtney Porter Editor-in-Chief led the conversation of Designing for Your Body, Mind, and Spirit: Achieving a Holistic Approach to Balancing Opulence, and Zen.
It was an enlightening afternoon, we delved into the art of designing spaces that nurture your body, mind, and spirit. Balancing opulence and zen, the esteemed panelists, Carolyn Cerminara-Kelly, Aviva Stanoff, Denise Gordon, and Mercedes Austin explored the creation of luxurious yet soulful spaces that uplift your well-being. Guided by moderator Courtney Porter, this captivating dialogue revealed practical strategies and profound insights into conscious design, offering a unique blend of aesthetics and holistic nourishment for a harmonious yet luxurious living experience.
As an expert artisan manufacturer, my participation on the panel enriched the conversation about design and its relationship with wellness. Offering a unique perspective as an artisan, I delved into the intricacies of our craft, emphasizing the significance of both the final products and the artisanal processes that shape our creative endeavors.
Finally, we explored wellness's link to luxury, emphasizing its accessibility through diverse aspects of our work beyond traditional definitions.
Introduction to the panelists
Aviva Stanoff Design
Sharing the panel with me was Aviva Stanoff, the visionary behind the Aviva Stanoff Design luxury brand. Aviva approaches every product as a canvas, infusing her creations with an artisanal touch. Her meticulous attention to detail stems from a rich creative spirit, influenced by generations of makers with Japanese and Eastern European roots. As a woman business owner and a child of immigrants, Aviva embraces her heritage, feeling a duty to honor the legacy of those who came before her. Get a glimpse of Aviva's gorgeous style on Instagram!
Austin Gray Design Group
Up next was Denise Gordon, the dynamic Founder & Creative Director of Austin Gray Design Group. Denise's presence brought an energetic, humble, and inviting vibe to the panel, infusing a refreshing authenticity into her design philosophy. What sets her approach apart is the seamless fusion of design sensibilities and organizational skills, transforming spaces from chaos to beautiful order. A distinguishing factor is her company's unique consortium of Black female creatives, collectively excelling in interior design, construction, architecture, and décor. Together, they weave magic: crafting spaces that elevate clients' styles with fine craftsmanship and curated artistry. Find more inspiration on their Instagram page.
Mercedes Austin, the visionary artisan and founder of Mercury Mosaics. Drawing inspiration from a rich tapestry of influences, she infuses her creations with a touch of magic, celebrating the artistry in every tile. With a commitment to craftsmanship and an unwavering dedication to creativity, Mercedes and her team at Mercury Mosaics craft spaces that go beyond the ordinary, transforming environments into expressions of beauty and individuality.
Last to join the panel was Carolyn Cerminara-Kelly, the visionary Founder and Principle of Cerminara Design. Influenced by her Italian heritage and upbringing in Australia, she crafts spaces that exude sophistication and simplicity, empowering clients to embrace safe and authentic living. Carolyn's career evolution reflects a blend of world travels, diverse experiences, and a profound passion for culture and art. A seasoned expert in her industry, Carolyn speaks eloquently and brings a touch of humility to ensure her work resonates with clients, offering not just wellness but also a delicate balance of minimalistic elegance and ambitious opulence. See what this elegant interior design studio is up to on social media!
Design News Now
Courtney Porter, Design News Now's formidable Editor-in-Chief, is a versatile force in luxury design, business development, and tech media. Renowned for insightful reporting, she's a trusted voice, influencing the industry. Interior designers, architects, and brands turn to her expertise for business elevation. Co-authoring "Green Interior Design" and hosting "Behind The Bar" showcase her dynamic influence and industry connections.
Thank you to Sherwin Williams for the gorgeous setting to host the conversation.
We were able to access and enjoy their 2024 color of the year, a very timely color: Upward. The description alone is enough to get you there: “A hint of Silver Lining. Introducing Upward, a breezy, blissful blue. The color found when we slow down, take a breath and allow the mind to clear.”
Sherwin-Williams' Color of the Year reflects a harmonious blend of aesthetics and wellness, as they carefully select hues that evoke tranquility and balance. Their color choices often draw from nature, creating an environment that promotes a sense of calmness and well-being, making them an ideal partner for those seeking to enhance both the aesthetic and wellness aspects of their living spaces.
Design News Now
Design News Now is a beacon of inspiration in the design landscape, a platform where sustainability and the craftsmanship of manufacturers are celebrated with artistic fervor. As an artisan, I find their dedication to showcasing environmentally conscious designs and championing manufacturers who prioritize quality and sustainability truly resonant. Through their insightful reporting and industry connections, Design News Now amplifies the voices of those committed to creating not just beautiful, but also eco-friendly and thoughtfully crafted spaces, aligning perfectly with the values that drive my own artistic endeavors.
The Primary emphasis of the panel
Courtney Porter's remarkable attention to detail captivated us throughout the conversation, reflecting her genuine passion for drawing out the best from each participant. In sharing her perspective, she emphasized the growing preference among designers for small businesses that champion sustainable values, local manufacturing, and integrate charitable giving into their business models.
My favorite discussion points were around: Is wellness a luxury?
For the product designers: How does wellness factor into, not just the end products themselves, but also into the process of creating them?
For the interior designers: Do you have a favorite project where wellness principles were at the forefront? What were the key elements that contributed to the overall wellness of the space?
You all possess an entrepreneurial spirit, often affiliated with hot-headed Type-A hustle, the opposite of zen and balance. From a personal care perspective, how do you balance running a business, preaching the tenets of wellness, and practicing them yourself?
How does wellness factor into the company culture you’ve created in your firm/business?
If you could only keep one wellness product/modality/practice which would you pick?
Conclusion & my takeaways
While each one of us came from a different background, with a series of varying perspectives we shared much in common. Listening to our clients and meeting them where they are at and understanding their goals was unanimous. Design has the power to provide spaces for people to lead better lives. By championing this philosophy, we use our professions to enhance our client’s lives. Some of us through products and some through spaces.
"Wellness is the key to real beauty; when you take care of yourself, you're a better person for others."
- Sophia Bush
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
- Steve Jobs