This Is How We’ll Live in 2025, According to Black Artists + Designers Guild4 min read
As many of us have discovered during countless hours spent in our apartments and houses this past year, our homes are not just spaces in which we live—these spaces can and should address our spiritual and physical well-being. With that in mind, Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) has created a holistic vision of future living for the Black family in America.
For its inaugural initiative, the nonprofit BADG, composed of a collective of independent Black artists, designers, and makers, is launching the Obsidian Virtual Concept House. Situated (virtually) in Oakland, California, in the year 2025, Obsidian—a partnership with ELLE Decor, House Beautiful, Town & Country, and VERANDA, the magazines of Hearst’s Luxury & Design Collection—presents a rich and immersive portrait of a dwelling for a Black family, founded on the four principles of innovation, technology, sustainability, and futurism. Parts of the project are going live today, and starting in February, it will be celebrated with the monthlong Obsidian Experience, a 360-degree virtual house tour and a series of live discussions and programming—including an Instagram Live session with ELLE Decor editor-in-chief Asad Syrkett and ELLE Decor A-List designer Leyden Lewis on February 11 at 12 p.m. EST. BADG plans to create five iterations of Obsidian over a five-year period in five cities.
“We thought specifically about the history of the Black Panther party in Oakland and their role in promoting healthy Black family living,” explains architect Nina Cooke John, who helped conceive of the Obsidian concept and co-designed, with Lewis, the architecture of the 11,000-square-foot house; its special technology includes rainwater harvesting, solar energy collection, and geothermal cooling and heating. John also took into account the history of the Bay Area’s indigenous Ohlone people in her ideas. “We made sure to incorporate use of the exterior landscape for both leisure and growing vegetables and herbs connecting to the land in a meaningful way.”
The Obsidian Virtual Concept House features rooms and areas designed by 23 BADG members and creators: b-framework, Cheryl R. Riley, Cheryl Umbles Interior Design, Eclectic Home, Everick Brown Design, Interior Obsession, Ishka Designs, Laura Hodges Studio, Leyden Lewis Design Studio, LH.Designs, Linda Allen Designs, Joy Street Design, Kiyonda Powell Design Studio, Malene Barnett, Marie Burgos Design, McLean and Tircuit, Me and General Design, Mitchell Black, Nikki Klugh Design Group, OI Studio, Revamp Interior Design, Shakoor Interiors, and Studio Cooke John.
With an emphasis on flexibility—the spaces are oriented with the idea that they will accommodate an extended, multigenerational family—the house eschews traditional designations like “living room” and “kitchen,” the better to encompass a sense of fluidity. The Sanctuary, for example, designed by Cheryl R. Riley, is separate from the main house and can be used for meditation, grieving, and worship. Its shape nods to the huts of the Ohlone people, and it employs facial and iris-scanning and voice-command technology to control the activities beneath its glass oculus, inspired by James Turrell’s sculpture Meeting and Eero Saarinen’s M.I.T. Chapel. Lewis’s warm, golden Room of Requirement, meanwhile, uses robotic arms to apply massage and acupuncture to inhabitants for the purposes of both relaxation and overall health.
“From being a space that acts as a virtual doctor’s office to a place where you can relax and explore your own body, the Room of Requirement highlights the importance of health and wellness,” Lewis explains. “Now more than ever before, we are concerned about our health in all the different mediums that it manifests itself.”
And for all of its technological prowess, the Obsidian Virtual Concept House—sponsored by Caesarstone, Fiskars, Pottery Barn, Resource Furniture, S. Harris, Stark, Thermador, and YLighting—is equally about encompassing and integrating the past. Malene Barnett, the founder of BADG and a BADG Creator, designed the Sankofa: Legacy Wall, inspired by the Adinkra concept meaning “go back and get it”; it’s made of hand-carved clay tiles, crafted using West African architectural techniques and imbued with recorded stories and videos, like a choir of ancestral memories, that can be called up with voice activation.
“These walls send daily affirmations of self-love and inspire ways to be an active member of the community,” Barnett says. “They were built with the intention of supporting Black life in all its forms. They are meant to empower others and help us recognize their identity, healing us from the social climate, outside the walls, that threatens us.”
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