Posted by: Megan Spies
Thermador is thrilled to share an exciting partnership with Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) for their inaugural design project, the Obsidian Virtual Concept House, an expansive vision of living and dwelling for Black families.
The futuristic project envisions a home set in 2025, focusing on the pillars of innovation, technology, sustainability, and futurism while highlighting the multiplicity of Black family identities. On this month’s Behind the Design, Kelly Finley of Joy Street Design walks us through the Soul Center—where food brings people together, expressing heritage and identity, feeding mind, body, and soul.
1. Hi, Kelly! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and BADG?
Hi! I’m Kelly Finley, the CEO and Principal Designer of Joy Street Design, a nationally recognized interior design firm based in Oakland, Calif., that provides full interior design services ranging from schematic planning to construction documents and project management.
I’m also a member of the Black Artists & Designers Guild, a nonprofit organization seeking to build a more equitable and inclusive creative culture by advancing a community of independent Black makers in creative industries. It’s a collection of amazing Black creators working collectively to showcase the exceptional talent in our community.
2. How was the virtual space conceptualized? What main principles speak to the mission, focus, and design of Obsidian?
Obsidian a virtual concept house launched by BADG as the organization’s inaugural initiative, designed to invite new conversations about the space of home as a place of thriving. It is a conceptual house based in the year 2025 that asks its visitors to engage in envisioning the possibilities of home and space through the lens of the Black diaspora. The focus was on seven core values: Wellness, Identity, Sustenance, Terra, Legacy, Dwelling, and Ancestral Futures. The concept house was conceived and designed by 23 BADG Creators as an opportunity to express the way Black people dream of living in our homes.
3. Can you share the importance of the Soul Center? What does this space consist of and how was it mindfully designed?
While the kitchen is the heart of the home, I imagined it as a space that blends in seamlessly with the rest of the house. Gone are the days of the bulky appliances that dominate the room. Instead, the kitchen is dominated by sculptural cabinets and artistic backsplash that makes you want to lounge in the room as much as you would any other part of the house.
The center of the kitchen is an “island” designed to look like a mass of obsidian rock that is topped with black counters with additional seating carved into the space. And while the main kitchen space looks amazing, there is a separate butler area that houses a rotating and weighted pantry that allows you to keep inventory to avoid waste. There is also an innovative dumbwaiter system that allows groceries to pass through a UV-C cabinet that kills germs and microbes before storing the items in the pantry. This kitchen is sophisticated, sexy, and functional.
4. How do elements of cooking, hosting, and family translate to the design and features of the space?
When designing the Soul Center, I imagined a multi-generational family that gathers routinely in the space. There are the parents who are likely the primary cooks, the children perched on island stools, and the grandparents who need a different amount of space to be comfortable.
We were therefore able to create zones that also allowed everyone to move about the space without concerns for overcrowding. For example, the sink and cooktop are closer together to facilitate cooking. There is a bank of built-in Thermador appliances including the ovens, freezer, and refrigerator on one wall that will facilitate snacking as well as baking or things that can be farther away from the cooktop. Finally, the island is clear of any appliances and encourages prep work, homework, and general activity.
5. Do you have a favorite trend you incorporated in the Soul Center?
My favorite trend is a sculptural and non-storage island. A large obsidian rock serves as the centerpiece of the Soul Center. An obvious nod to the name of the concept house is provides the anchor for the room and invites inhabitants to work on one side, sit at the counter on the other side, and enjoy the cantilevered bench on the last side.
6. What three words would you use to describe the Soul Center?
Colorful, collected, and functional. Which is really what all my designs are about as I typically start with the function in any room before thinking about next steps.
7. Are there any other details you would like to share about the home?
Obsidian creates a space that invites people to see themselves reflected in a way that has previously never existed. It invites imagination about the concepts of home and encourages viewers to take the aspects that work for them as they also reimagine their spaces. Obsidian also tells a story of how the collective Black diaspora dreams of a safe and secure home that serves the functions of how we live our lives.
To tour the Obsidian House, please visit: https://obsidianbybadg.house/spaces/camera-4
To view more of Kelly’s incredible work, visit her Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/joystreetdesign/?hl=en