Talor Stewart attended Yestermorrow in 1998 as a student in a course called Design Build of Sustainable Structures with Steve Badanes and Bill Bialosky. In the 20 years since his course, his career has grown and evolved. Talor studied Architecture at the Boston Architectural College and Landscape Design History at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard. An award-winning designer, his work has been recognized for contributions in the Intentional Community, Green Design, and Conscious Design spaces. He provides design services to clients throughout the United States and select places internationally. As an architect, project manager, and design consultant, Talor has worked on single and multi-family homes and communities for people who live a conscious lifestyle. He works with individuals to help them shape their outer environment in a way that reflects and supports their personal choices and lifestyle goals. Combining the best of East and West, he applies the practical science of architecture and construction while incorporating the eastern arts of Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra to design spaces well suited for intentional living.
He recently wrote a book called Conscious Home Design. It’s a book about looking deeply at the things that really make life meaningful - relationships, health, creativity, feeling connected to our sense of purpose. He recently gave us an update on his book and what he's been up to.
What are you up to now? I am now a licensed architect and have specialized in meditation retreat centers for the past five years. This is great work but I wanted to return to my “roots” so to speak - my first love, which is residential design. So I wrote a book based on my 20 years of experience since Yestermorrow called Conscious Home Design. It’s about looking deeply at the things that really make life meaningful - relationships, health, creativity, feeling connected to our sense of purpose - the Japanese call this ikigai. We know so much more now about the science of longevity and happiness due to advances in the fields of health, nutrition, neuroscience, and psychology. It’s really time that architecture caught up with this. We’ve seen tremendous growth in two directions - smart homes incorporating technological advances from materials and computers, and eco homes benefiting from improved awareness around carbon emissions and sustainable use of resources. Conscious Home Design adds a third aspect to the conversation by bringing attention back to the human use perspective. I reference Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a backbone to hang design on. In the book, I ask and answer the question of how our homes can help us self-actualize, so that the quality of our lives, our relationships, our experiences are deepened and fulfilled.
It’s fun and informative, yet easy to read in two or three sittings. I wrote it for the non-architect audience to help build a bridge between the valuable but esoteric knowledge architects possess and the folks who can benefit from it but don’t want to spend a lot of time studying design, construction, and architecture theory. It’s an eye-opener. I’d like to offer everyone a free copy - just head over to https://conscioushomedesign.com/book
What has proved to be the most important/beneficial thing you gained from Yestermorrow? My study at Yestermorrow was very intentional, and I incorporate the knowledge I gained here into my work at a fundamental level. Just knowing Yestermorrow exists is a great benefit to me, because it gives me peace of mind to know there is a place where people can come together to learn and grow and do neat projects and stay focused on things that matter - people, environment, economics. Yestermorrow represents growth, experimentation, discovery, creation, connection. It’s about values-driven designing and building - making spaces more usable, ecological, creative, artistic. It is like a light of hope in the world in that sense
What advice do you have for potential Yestermorrow students? Make the most of your time there. Ask questions, tap the knowledge of the staff, the perspectives of the other students, and the library. There is a lot to learn and you want to soak it up like a sponge. Get as much as you can, so you can give as much back when you go on to create things out in the world.