Asquared Studios provides information for working through your recovery after a disaster
It is nearly September 2020, and we once again find the North Bay Area in the Midst of a wildfire disaster. We are refreshing a post we created after the 2017 complex fires in Santa Rosa to offer advice and guidance to those who are suffering loss from the complex fires that exploded suddenly due to a rouge lightning storm. The lightning storm that hit nearly 2 weeks ago dropped approximately 11,000 strikes in the Bay Area, and the rumbling sky that accompanied this light show left many of us restless in the wee hours of the morning. This spectacular event produced a lot of amazing photographs on social media, but also sparked an unexpected and early wildfire event. In Santa Rosa we sit in the middle of every fire zone, surrounded by fires in all directions. This has given Tony and I plenty of time to think about how we can contribute to struggle that so many are facing once again. We recognize that there is simply A LOT of information to digest for those who are suffering total loss and for those who are faced with the monumental task of assessing damage to structures that survived the fires. This damage will likely stretch far beyond the visible aspects of flame and heat damage, most notably extending into architectural finishes, wall cavities, and ceiling cavities that are filled with all forms of insulation. As a result of our conversations we have assembled a simple outline or guideline that you may find useful in determining a process for recovery after a disaster. The link provided below will take you to the PDF of this outline. We have also included valuable links provided by our local Chamber of Commerce.
We urge you to be cautious when returning home!
With love + hope – Jessie, Tony, Kola, and Lucille
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What a Pandemic Can Reveal
We are writing our first journal entry in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. We have spent the last 2 months re-aligning our studio and business practices to the new pandemic climate in an effort to continue to serve our clients in the best way possible, while making sure that we successfully shelter in place and take care of our own health, safety, and welfare. In light of all of this we have given a lot of thought to what our typical design process means to us, and how this process serves to enhance the quality of life for our clients.
It is our goal and pleasure to help our clients plan for meaningful quality of life no matter the type or size of project we take on. Although we have no way of planning for unexpected circumstances such as the global impact of COVID-19, we are profoundly fulfilled when the rigor we apply to our design process yields rewarding results. Over the last 2 months we have heard from multiple clients that the work that we performed has proven to be beneficial to their lifestyle during this unprecedented and unexpected time in world history. It is our pleasure to share with you the words of one client who has found comfort and quality in their “new normal” life as a direct result of the remodel we recently completed of their home.
“When we made the decision a few years ago to remodel our house, we had to answer a lot of questions. We considered how to configure bedrooms and bathrooms, ceilings heights, window placement, and hundreds of tile and paint color options. We planned every little detail, right down to where the dog would sleep. But one question that never came up was: Will this design meet our needs in a global pandemic in which none of us leaves the house for days or weeks or …?
And yet, during this strange, frightening, slower-paced time, we often take a moment to be grateful that we renovated our house when we did. Every decision we made in that process helped turn our home from what previously could have felt confining and uncomfortable into a sanctuary that calms and accommodates us perfectly.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in our kitchen. Our new kitchen was made by combining three small rooms (dining room, breakfast nook and kitchen) with little storage, less counter space, ancient appliances and no dishwasher. It’s hard now to imagine how we would’ve coped with preparing, serving and cleaning up after three meals a day for all of us for months on end. And while—let’s be honest—we still miss going to our favorite restaurants, at least we are able to enjoy mealtimes together comfortably. Baking with our son has become a fun distraction, and making homemade pasta together for the first time while FaceTiming with friends in the midwest is an experience we will remember fondly. Also, having the storage space for several weeks’ worth of food is something we will never take for granted.
Another thing that has saved our sanity is the fact that we each have our own workspace. For my husband, on conference calls and video meetings perpetually, the garage office conversion has been a godsend. Our teenaged son has a built-in desk in his room which he currently uses for various building projects. And my desk, sitting in the kitchen, has become the internet, Zoom and distance learning hub. Adjusting to our “new normal,” means a lot of time staring at screens for most of us, but at least we aren’t annoying each other by having to do it in the same room. Even though we didn’t add square footage, the open design of the central living area feels more spacious, while still affording enough privacy that we can get away from one another when necessary.
It’s hard to know when this will all end; when we will be able to ditch the masks and hand sanitizer, run our normal errands, go out for meals with friends and walk down the sidewalk without recoiling in fear when someone comes too close. Someday our lives will go back to something resembling normal, but our home will continue to be our safe place.”
It seems that we have been facing one crisis after another on an annual basis in California, and that the “new normal” reaches beyond the face of this pandemic. One thing we are certain of, is that we learn from each crisis, and we strive to absorb each lesson into both our personal and professional lives so the we do what we do best – FOR YOU!
Cheers and stay safe! Jessie and Tony
As we approach the end of the year we reflect on what the past year meant to us, what we accomplished, and what we have learned to carry with us into the new year. One of the things we find we consistently appreciate in our work is the power of collaboration. This is explained early in our process, and we identify this as an “Owner Inspired Vision”. We rely on our clients to participate in our process to create a vision that is uniquely theirs. This vision becomes our target goal throughout the design and construction process. We have found that successful collaboration creates a successful project.
We were reminded of the level of collaboration required during each phase of a project in our recent experience of preparing for and managing the professional photography of one of our completed projects. Of course our intent with photographing a project is always to express the intent behind our design and the pride of our clients, but this particular project was also selected for a spread in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine. Because of this there was a greater need to continue the precedent of collaboration through the photographic process.
Our photography team included our clients, the photographers, a stylist, and the magazine. To kickoff the process we held a walk through of the residence well in advance of the actual shoot. This gave us the ability to work with the stylist to ensure that the personality of the client was maintained while creating eye-catching images of the home.
Fast forward to the day of the photoshoot. We started in the early morning hours with the Stylist. The stylist, Asquared Studios, and the clients worked to methodically prepare the first few set-ups in advance of the photographers and magazine editors arrival. Once the photographer arrived, we worked with them to ensure that the language of the architecture was brought forth in an impactful way to express the intended proportion, scale, light, and color. With that, we want to make sure that the photographs tell the story of how the house accommodates the lives of the owners, including how it flows, how it is used, and how they live in it to make the space their own. We relied on the our clients throughout the day to help us tell their story. The photoshoot was a true success.! Our collaborative process led to the editor’s selection of our project to be featured on their magazine cover.
Ultimately, the enthusiastic participation by the client at this stage of the project only reinforces the power of our “Owner Inspired Vision” philosophy and process. As we close out 2019 and move into 2020, we are excited to move forward in collaboration with new clients, consultants, contractors, and whomever else we have the honor to work with.