Back in August, we spoke with Malene Barnett, founder of The Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG), about the work BADG is doing to counter the lack of representation of Black talent and culture in the design industry. Now, as part of the organization’s work to center and uplift Black voices, it’s getting ready to launch The Obsidian Virtual Concept House in January 2021, which is sponsored by Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Veranda, Town & Country and California Home + Design.
The Obsidian Virtual Concept House is a futuristic home founded on an enlightened way of being and dwelling designed for Black families, by Black families. It’s about envisioning a new future that emphasizes the home as a sanctuary where family and work life are intertwined and rest, safety, nourishment, spirituality and joy are centered. It was designed by 22 BADG “creators,” all of whom draw from their own expertise, perspective and research.
The Obsidian Project committee includes BADG members Malene Barnett, Leyden Lewis, Nina Cooke John, Kelly Finley, Everick Brown and Kiyonda Powell. And, the team behind the project interviewed and spoke with many Black families to best understand the diverse communities.
We spoke with Kelly Finley, one of the Obsidian Project committee members, and she emphasized that by bringing together this variety of creators, the virtual concept house connects the African diaspora as different aspects of the house interact and play with each other. The project centers the Black community and its varied cultures, drawing styles and techniques from the past and mixing them with those from the present and future. The result is a space where those from the African diaspora can feel at home and safe.
This is a space designed to honor history and allow the project’s creators to celebrate the ways they dream of community and the future of the built environment.
The home is set in 2025 and is illustrated through state-of-the-art renderings and visuals that focus on innovation, technology, sustainability and futurism — all while highlighting the multiplicity of Black family identities. The 3D virtual structure uses a site based in Oakland, California, which was designed by Obsidian architectural team Leyden Lewis of Leyden Lewis Design Studio and Nina Cooke John of Studio Cooke John.