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Onyx Wall

This Onyx wall has become a trademark of famed architect Ed Calma. Sometimes I ask myself, how does one arrive at personal style? Does it evolve from individual small design decisions, or is it a concious effort to define one’s identity through design.

I believe Calma’s process has a deep artistic origin. When I visit any of his works, I feel a range of emotions. Approaching the building, I experience anticipation. The folding walls which can be solid, translucent or transparent, seem to be unified into a singular whole, producing a sculptural quality that is like a chrysalis, gradually opening to reveal something more, so effortlessly.

At the entrance, the door is always frameless and painfully simple. It seems imposing and heavy at first, but to one’s surprise, it opens with the gentle push of a lever.

Upon entering the house, the exterior finishes penetrate into the interior. For example, the Kaufman Onyx which serves as the exterior skin of the structure, feels solid on the outside. When viewed from the interior, however, it glows like the sun, even without any internal lighting fixtures. Even with sunshine directly shining on the onyx wall outside, inside, it is calm and gently warm on the eyes.

Moving around indoors, one feels open and free, inviting the curious to explore. Like unfolding paper, the transition from one space to the next is fluid. Calma produces a smooth flowing experience, never resorting to disjointed accent walls and attraction points, just to fill a space.

It takes confidence to be comfortable in creating simplicity and Calma is not afraid to exude calm. To design space which is devoid of decoration is a spiritual process, for the temptation to add material after material is always present… just to fill the void.

An architect is more than a person who just designs places to live or to work in. Like a story teller, he paints a picture, not through words, but a narrative none the less, expressed through design. He is a master who knows how to exist in calm and to control the emptiness. This power is significant. It is the ability to manipulate the human emotion by controlling how a space unfolds.

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