April 20, 2013

Residence at the Butte, Oregan. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC

One of the first things that strikes me every time that I pause to really look at the word “earth” is that “art” is at the very heart of it. Living is an art. Living well is a great art. On this Earth Day, I want to consider the art of living from an earth-centered perspective.

What does “living well” mean today? I believe that it has to include a deep consideration for our surroundings, both on a personal and on a planetary level. We live on a planet we take for granted, with other creatures we too often ignore in our pursuit of our own agendas.

Plastic is choking our planet. Garbage is creating “islands” at sea, as 5 Gyres institute so clearly outlines.

The impact is being beautifully documented by heart-full, artful people like Chris Jordan who is making a documentary on the birds of Midway island, a small unpopulated island 2,000 miles from the nearest continent. His images are both poetic and heartbreaking.

We can use guilt to try to effect change—or try something radically different and use our art to inspire change.

I am an interior designer and design is my art: the creation of beautiful, inspiring spaces. I do everything I can to be creative—and earth-friendly—as a designer. Green design is something that we think about every single day at Sander Architects, LLC.

What does that mean?

In my last post I talked about how to use Spring Cleaning fever to create collections out of our stuff rather than throwing it away.  It can be that simple. Change the way you perceive something and old junk might gain a new life.

It is also using your head to plan ahead: if you think about the movement of the sun and wind it becomes obvious that placement of windows, doors and walls can completely change the energy load of a building.

We have designed the first energy-neutral residence in Palm Springs by using our heads first and then adding 2 or 3 times the amount of insulation and plenty of solar power for heating, cooling and water. That doesn’t mean the home will look like a mud hut. We think it’s as gorgeous as anything out there, without even knowing about the green aspects.

Desert Canopy House. Architecture by Sander Architects, LLC

The overhang, in the image above, is a perfect example of using design to be green: it protects the glass from direct sunlight, keeping the house dramatically cooler in summer.

The images below shows our project, Green Houses, which has been given a Silver ranking by the professional organization known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

We use so many green strategies and materials that it might be worth checking out on our website – but one thing of note is the Capiz chandelier we used in the kitchen of one unit and the living room of the other unit is from We loved how it looked with the grace and elegance and drama of a ballerina in an industrial setting.

Interior design for me is as much about juxtaposing two disparate elements to create a poetic energy as it is about finding objects that “match” or fit with the style. I think this is a great example.

Green Houses in Los Angeles, CA. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC

In the next images, we play with one of our favorite tricks, both as architects and as interior designers: translucence. In almost all of our projects you will see expanses of glass or translucent materials that allow our interiors to be flooded with light during the daytime. This cuts down on the use of electricity and creates spaces that produce a feeling of light and hope. In one of my all-time favorite reviews of our work, by CasaD:

 “the acrylic panels seem to ethereally evoke the spiraling flight of doves. Through the day, as the sun traverses the sky, an infinite number of light and shadow patterns are projected onto and enhanced by the translucent panels. The purity of the light creates a semi-spiritual feeling, a kind of reverential awe for the “religion” of architecture and the amazing power that light and space can create.”

Canal House. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC

Residence for a Briard. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC


Glass Town Houses. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC


Canal House. Architecture and Interior Design by Sander Architects, LLC


I hope that these images have shown you how much passion and beauty is possible when you approach your creative life with a desire to bring together art and the earth.

Happy Earth Day—may its ever-changing beauty provide inspiration year-round.

Please feel free to share your own efforts to live—and design—from an earth-centered perspective.

Written by Catherine Holliss

Interior Design Blog Writer,, LLC

Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  


Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 

Blog Post © KOUBOO LLC. All rights reserved.