A Sacred Space to Dwell


Not simply an art-infused yoga retreat, this green getaway in a 1910 San Francisco mansion was conceived with the most advanced philosophies circulating in the world of new design: integrate the expertise of eco-minded artisans and foster a sense of well-being in the home and on the planet.

Kevin Hackett and Jessica Weigley of Siol Studios are committed to to an approach that bypasses the old method of sub-contracting various consultants to remodel a space.

“We practice integral design hoping to create one sustainable mind with experts from every realm hired by our firm to work together in the same language and philosophy,” says Hackett, an Irish architect. “It’s happening elsewhere in medicine, business, law and education. ”

It’s also happening in the 2009 San Francisco Decorator Showcase (April 25-May 25), where the team was given a space in the basement to forge this sustainable retreat.

The designers borrowed the name A Sacred Space to Dwell from a book by Polish ecological philosopher, Henryk Skolimowski.

“He taught us we need to go through a process of frugality to understand space,” says Hackett. “We’re in the midst of that change. We need to understand meditation not just as an individual practice but a global one.”

The major focus of the space was filtered natural light through 5-inch thick pivot walls of fly ash concrete flanking tempered etched glass windows. The walls open and close as needed to allow a delicate diffusion of light for meditation, reading, relaxation or reflection.

The ceiling light is all LED illuminated, as the designers argue conventional fluorescent lights contain mercury and don’t make sense.

“We are pushing the idea that LED is superior because it’s not as blue as in the past and lasts hundreds of hours,” says Hackett. His partner adds that LED is extremely efficient.


“Every light here combined is what is needed to fuel one conventional light bulb,” says Weigley.

Local eco art colors the inventive room, including an acacia carving by Sam Perry of Oakland, a series of paintings on plywood by Rex Ray, and a zen diptych by Max Gimblett, a practicing Buddhist.


Other elements include a Peace Industry felt rug, salvaged pine from old barns for flooring and a vintage Ming table from Hackett’s past.

One aspect less visible is the psychology of the space which is all part of the firm’s modern tact in getting it right.

“We actually have a psychologist on our staff who is the conduit to understanding a client’s demands,” shares Hackett. “We designers coming out of design school don’t have to play that role. You can hire a professional. Some people don’t understand how much that plays into what we do.”


Kevin Hackett and Jessica Weigley of Siol Studios

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.