Reconnecting with Nature

Isn’t it interesting that the word is pursue. That we ‘pursue a career’. Track it, stalk it, chase it down. The only thing I like to chase is the last bit of sun as it falls behind the treehouse and I dash up the hill to see its last wave goodnight.

But a career? Its not something to follow, nor even to arrive at too soon. It’s something better than that. Something to practice. To be lived in. To love.

Daniel Pouzet loved his — well, the idea of his — so much so that he gave it all up to get all the way inside of it. He and his wife and their two and a half kids (the third was well on its way) sold their home and belongings and bought an RV and set out to travel the world. To discover its beauty and share it with his family, and rediscover a love for his career.

“When you love things they become more simple,” he says, perched atop a stool at Le Colombe in Chicago, sipping a double espresso and letting the caffeine help explain the chaos of his decision. “One day I woke up and was unhappy. My work was too much. Not seeing my family was not enough for me. Everything started to change in my mind.”

As an architect he was at the pinnacle—collaborations with Phillipe Starck, the world’s largest eco soccer stadium—but that peak kept him inside of four walls, for years. Creativity wasn’t about staying in an office, but about moving, discovering, and making new experiences.

He closed the office door behind him and drove across Europe. No plans. No destination. What he discovered was nature. And at first, the lack of it. “Europe is beautiful, but crowded. You can learn languages, but it’s not like America. There’s a wildness. And so much nature.”

So, the journey detoured. The RV shipped to the US, a crazily involved task that might have used a bit more (and cheaper) planning, but Daniel is unafraid of crazy. He’s a risk taker and lives at the edge of design, and for three years lived in a motor home far past the built environment and deeply inside limitless nature. Every day, it was just outside the door and growing into his design sensibility.

Man-made structres became constant reminders of his stresses and anxieties. But cactus and ferns and redwoods? Freedom. Health. Necessary. Nature is simple, he found, and simply sophisticated. It’s immense, and small in scale at the same time. Suddenly, he was smiling. All the time. And he sketched and stared and started imagining ways to co-create with nature. How to bring life to design through plants.“How to reinvent after this trip?” He takes a final sip and shrugs his shoulders. “When I left, I was an architect. When I returned, I wanted creation. Not making buildings. To make universes. Not walls, but what is inside of them. It was the right moment to start a new story.”

And so began sagegreenlife. He said goodbye to the RV and hello to the challenge of designing products that connect, simply and beautifully, to the benefits of plants. Of creating a considered life, one closer to nature. Building living and working environments which sustain that vital relationship to our natural surroundings. A relationship he needs. We all need. And want to live in. And love.

We hiked our cups to the counter, thanked the barista and walked out into the surprising October sunshine. Trucks rumbled and jackhammers drilled and the whole city was loud, screaming for our attention, but we were quiet. Just long enough for me to think, I want an RV. A road trip. An escape. And yet, is that the vehicle of my self-discovery? I already know that life is open and wide. Would that just be chasing someone else’s idea of freedom?

At the corner, we marveled at the late-season warmth and shook hands. “Au revoir,” said Daniel, “be well,” and off he strolled, east to my west. I turned and ran across the street, to beat the traffic light before it turned red. And then, I slowed down. I’m not in a hurry, I thought. Like Daniel, I’m in a good place. And until tonight’s sunset, I’m not chasing anything.

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