by Emmet Chadwick photographs by Nancy Neil
High wire acts all share one thing in common: It takes true grace to defy gravity. And if there’s one thing Steve and Talina Hermann’s Glass Pavilion has, it’s breathtaking poise. The couple’s ultramodern house looks as if it is floating above its four-acre, manicured surroundings. The floor, a simple white plane, rises above the lawn. The ceiling (“Look ma, no hands!”) seems to hover just as elegantly. The result? A living/dining area that’s ethereally unconfined, at least on three expansive sides, where unbroken walls of glass create the ultimate in indoor/outdoor existence.
“I wanted to create the most minimalist house ever designed. There’s nothing inhibiting the flow of light and space. You are completely enveloped in nature,” says Steve, a longtime designer of high-end spec homes in Los Angeles, who first embarked on creating the Glass Pavilion six years ago. It has already generated tremendous attention in design circles; modeled on Mies van der Rohe’s renowned Farnsworth House, the house is entirely cantilevered off a series of posts running along the interior hallway. One steel beam alone is the weight of 10 Range Rovers. A typical steal beam for a house is half-an-inch thick; this one is three inches. “I said, ‘If Mies were alive today, how would he design using today’s technologies?’” says Steve.
Architectural designer Bobby Webb, who knows a thing or two about luxury living, is a fan. “I think it’s absolutely exquisitely executed,” he says. “The way that it’s supported structurally, it’s just unbelievable. To me, it’s like an art piece in the forest.”
Steve and Talina moved from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara a year ago to complete their five-bedroom, 14,000-square-foot dream house and since then have welcomed into the world a daughter, Laurel. The couple is lounging in the living room, which is sparely furnished with a large glass coffee table surrounded by two Paul Tuttle Arco chairs, modern benches of Steve’s own design, and a sprawling sectional sofa by Italian designer Mario Bellini. Laurel is napping in the nursery, while Charlie, the couple’s King Charles Cavalier spaniel, gently snores at Steve’s feet.
“I don’t think I could live in L.A. full-time again. This is one of the best places to raise a family. It’s very supportive of new parents,” says Steve, who first got to know Santa Barbara after his own parents, who live in Sarmarkand, retired here 10 years ago. “I’ve met more people in a year in Santa Barbara than in my years in L.A. combined. It’s so easy. The people here are very friendly and authentic and welcoming,” says Talina, a former fashion designer. Since becoming a new mother, she’s launched and runs mommysbestfriends.com, a social networking Web site for moms and moms to be…
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