Little Spa in the Big Woods
Bradley Lincoln -- Interior Design, 2/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
In Greek mythology, Daedalus crafted an elaborate labyrinth under King Minos's palace to house the half-man, half-bull Minotaur borne by the bewitched Queen Pasiphaë. In contemporary Green Lake, Wisconsin, Judith Testani of the Testani Design Troupe applied a similar concept in realizing a lulu of a labyrinth at Evensong Spa—a full-service facility on a 38-acre shoreline property shared by the historic Heidel House Resort.
Evensong's maze—more literally the elaborate flooring of a round circulation hub at the center of the 15,000-square-foot building by CMD Architects—is ironically intended as a way to find oneself, providing a self-guided path as one sloughs off the slings and arrows of daily life to emerge with a clear head and sense of well-being. Textured ceramic tiles provide the background for the inset pebbles that make up the circuitous routes, and circular skylights echo the curves below. Along the perimeter, seven narrow vertical slits hold Murano glass pendant fixtures, resembling shimmery droplets of water, while bamboo poles stand akimbo.
The circle theme is first evident with Evensong's circular driveway. The rectilinearity of the building itself, however, is a clear reference to Frank Lloyd Wright. In true Wright style, the asphalt-and-cedar overhanging roof and the poured-concrete entry canopy make a strong horizontal statement.
Visible through the facade's 12-foot-high window, the lobby's faux-limestone fireplace surround displays three disks of oiled rosewood. A return to the circle motif, they were originally wheels that monk turned artisan Tucker Robbins gathered from water buffalo carts in the Philippines. Dark mission-style chairs provide an effective contrast. The walnut-and-steel reception desk and the leather wall tiles behind it raise the level of texture.
Occupying an aesthetic middle ground between straight and curved, three small chunky steel tables feature interlocking convex and concave sides. A rectangular wool rug—made by the company responsible for the one in the Oval Office—undulates with a green-and-gold pattern.
The lobby flows into Evensong's boutique, where red-cedar trunks serve as display fixtures—just one among many design elements that take cues from the wooded environment, visible through windows that Testani used as often as practical concerns of construction and discretion allowed. She referenced the region's distinct seasons via her materials palette. In the mens' locker room, deep butterscotch walls and Ted Boerner's leather-covered club chairs speak of autumn. In the café, patrons settle into chairs and banquettes upholstered in the most kiwi-kissed of spring greens.