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Posted March 19, 2014 by & filed under

This week we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that it’s Irish Heritage Month as well. It’s always great when we can celebrate our heritage and what better way to celebrate it than incorporate it into the design of the space we live in. But, of course, that brings up horrific images of four-leaf-clover wall paper or, as in the case of my German background, a wall full of ten thousand cuckoo clocks. As a designer I have to step in and say that playing into design stereotypes is not the best way to bring your heritage—or even cultures in which you are interested—into your daily environment.

The best way to incorporate culture into design is through delicate and subtle nods in that direction. The use of a certain material or even a strong color incorporated into the design as an accent piece. In this way the design aesthetic remains true without being overpowered. Another design technique that maintains truth in both design and geography is to incorporate certain stylistic aspects of a heritage through local products. An example of this is in the old world style project I designed a few years back.

Old World Entry

The clients wanted to honor their love of Italy but the home was being constructed in the middle of the Sonoran desert. To create the style they wanted and remain truthful to the local specific substitutions in materials were made. A carved canterra marble was used versus the traditional limestone of Italy. Another transition was the use of patina’ed Saltillo tile that is used throughout the desert in lieu of terracotta tiles. These simple design adjustments create an experience of the design aesthetic that is perfect for the client’s desire to incorporate their heritage or interests with the area in which they are currently living. Everyone’s spirit is elevated.