Step inside the six coldest rooms on earth
Maybe it was a reaction until the years of superfund excess we’ve all grown accustomed to, or maybe it’s the inevitable result of our lives being rearranged and our brains being turned around by a pandemic. , but nature and craft feel more essential than ever when it comes to how we are direct.
As Japanese artist Kazunori Hamana put it simply, “We humans are part of nature.” His house, in Isumi, 50 meters from the Pacific Ocean, is the perfect example of how the harmony between nature and craft can give a room comfort and appeal. His studio — solidly built in the Japanese wood-frame tradition and filled with natural clay vases Hamana made — balances creative expression with solid simplicity.
Artist and cultivator Ido Yoshimoto’s love of nature was first demonstrated in tree forts and rope swings under local trees in Northern California — now it’s in carvings large-scale timber that he created from fallen tree trunks. His outdoor workspace was originally built by legendary artist JB Blunk and is full of unique, hand-carved details from decades ago. “I make sure to absorb these shapes and aesthetic abilities subconsciously while in and around them,” says Yoshimoto.
Salmon Creek Farm proposes another way to live in solidarity with California redwoods. This old hippie commune has been reimagined by artist Fritz Haeg as a colony for those looking for a lifestyle akin to the land. Haeg built the kitchen himself in Cabin #1 Orchard. “There are no conventional kitchen cabinets,” he says, “no stainless steel, no drywall, and no canning cabinets.”
Maverick builder SunRay Kelley is a legend on the handcrafted vernacular architectural scene that springs from Salmon Creek. His rolling houses (in his own words: “Gypsy Wagons”) are a compressed version of his amazing cabin and treehouse design—more Ken Kesey than Winnebago. Kelley wants these psychedelic motor homes, which combine solar power and wooden walls, to become subject matter lessons for a sustainable path forward. “I have great hope that we can reverse the environmental degradation,” he said.
The late great George Nakashima also had a vision of sustainable design – and a hunch that, in the ’70s, nature would be much happier if we stopped exploiting its fossil fuels. For his iconic Reception House bathroom on his Pennsylvania estate, he built an innovative tub based on a wood-burning boiler. Mira Nakashima, George’s daughter, said it can take hours to heat the water on fire, saying that such a long soak is orderly.
Maine-based designer and builder Anthony Esteves knows a thing or two about the importance of staying warm. His scrap sauna, built entirely of salvaged materials, saves on metal chimneys, heating up to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Esteves says, “It’s a place for us to hang out with friends and family. home and provide warmth during the cold months.”
These six unique rooms are sanctuaries, designed with nature, history and craft in mind. Something we could all use more of in our lives.