This Cosm is definitely *not* by Herman Miller

by nora on September 10, 2018

While I’m relatively new to it, I suspect it’s rare that furniture PR winds you up in a psychedelic church that worships “visionary art” and all the world’s faiths. But, in large part thanks to Herman Miller, I just had a much needed night away in the Hudson Valley at a 40-acre estate.

As you probably saw, Wolf PR helped Herman Miller launch their new chair, Cosm, this past April in Milan for Salone del Mobile. While I was dutiously doing research to see what press was out there after the product  launch, I happened upon cosm.org, the very first Google result. And it had very little to do with an office chair.

Standing for the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, it’s a registered church and 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by Alex and Allyson Grey to celebrate “visionary art.” The couple, who have been together since first meeting (and dropping acid) in 1975, ran an art space in Chelsea until 2009, but decided to take a break from the city and moved upstate to grow their sanctuary.

Upon visiting their website what struck me the most were the renderings of the Entheon, an under-construction 12,000 square foot sanctuary for art, converted from an old carriage house. While currently bare concrete, it will eventually be a covered in a baroque, creature-covered design inspired by the Greys’ own cosmography and experiences informed by various experiments with psychedelics and entactogens—such as DNA dragons snaking up the roof, which is dotted with a pattern of eyes called “collective vision” which were witnessed during one of Alex’s experiences with DMT. It will also feature figures and symbols from the world’s many religious and spiritual practices, or wisdom traditions as they call them—like a door which features Adam and Eve returned to the Garden of Eden.

When I’m not at Wolf PR, I’m freelance write and edit, covering things across art, architecture, and design. I mentioned the Entheon, sort of jokingly, to my editor at The Architect’s Newspaper and his unexpected response was “Do you want to cover it?”

So I did.

The article appeared on the frontpage of The Architect’s Newspaper’s June edition and was popular online, likely due to the striking renderings of Entheon made by Oscar-winning animator Ryan Tottle (he lent his skills on Frozen among other mainstream films). After the article went up online, I was thrilled to receive an email from Allyson thanking me for the article and also inviting me up for a visit.

And how could I say no? I took the train up from New York City to the Wappinger Falls estate—which is laid out on a projected goddess, “the kabbalistic sephirot of justice”— for a night away.

The main structure, the Grey House, is a sort of psychedelic B&B and gallery, filled with art by Alex and Allyson and featuring all manner of surprising details—like multiheaded sconces with spinning purple lights—a fixture I’ll be sure to ask my roommate if we can feature in our own home.

I stayed in the Rose Room, a spacious bedroom replete with a four poster bed, dining nook, and large windows overlooking the wooded estate—a far cry from my cramped Manhattan apartment. It not only had the northern-Renaissance style art pictured, but Allyson’s “secret language” paintings, zigzagging indecipherable characters of an unspeakable language.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enter Entheon, that imposing concrete chapel (or get to witness the reliquaries of psychedelic evangelist Timothy Leary’s ashes or the spectacles of the Swiss scientist who first synthesized LSD Albert Hoffman). But, being that I don’t think I had been among “nature” in nearly 9 months, I spent most of my day exploring the wooded estate— following the Wisdom Trail, which was dotted with art by artists and artist volunteers. One of the most striking sculptures was the white three-tiered, climbable metal gazebo set in a circular meadow, Altered States. The structure was designed by artist Kate Raudenbush, who describes herself as “New York-based, Burning Man–bred.”

Also nearby were nests by Nature Hogan, a mural by Chris Dyer, other painted sculptures, a labyrinth, and some bee hives for harvesting honey. There was also a large decorative gate which didn’t seem to lead to anywhere. My friend who visited with me claims it was gone when we left to catch the train the next morning. And I can’t say after my visit that anything would surprise me.

– Drew Zeiba

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