A Place of Sanctuary

July 5th, 2017

Interior designer Lisa Kahn, whose teen daughter turned her life around at DLC, brought the outdoors indoors to provide a peaceful setting for children.

In the 1980s, the Japanese invented something they call shinrin-yoku, loosely translated to English as “forest bathing.” It’s the practice of taking regular visits to a forest for the purpose of finding peace, reducing stress, and restoring health.

Or, as Lisa Kahn would put it, “finding sanctuary.”

That’s just what she had in mind when she decorated the waiting room and other interior spaces in the new Children’s Outpatient Building at David Lawrence Center. A professional interior designer, Kahn wanted to give back after DLC had worked marvels with her special-needs teenage daughter, Chloe, who struggles with epilepsy and other issues.

“We went through the program at David Lawrence Center for about a year and a half,” Kahn says. “And it was the most enormous gift we’ve ever been given. We’re still unpacking it. Chloe continues to grow and blossom.”

And now, in Chloe’s honor, a handmade tree sculpture is “growing and blossoming” inside the Children’s Outpatient Building — donated, designed, and created by Kahn, with countless hours of creative help and hard work from her longtime friend stage designer Clayton Brown. The artificial arboretum is a wonder, filling the room with the hues of the forest, complete with birds, nests, butterflies, and even a brightly-colored tree frog. Children love to look at it while waiting for their appointments.

Kahn, CEO and lead designer at Lisa Kahn Designs, says her mission is to create “interior spaces as sanctuaries — sacred places where we can relax, refresh our spirits and return to the essence of who we are and what is truly important. Creating peace around us inspires peace within us. Creating sanctuary is creating a healing environment.”

And what better place to create sanctuary and peace than at a facility for children struggling with life, children wrestling with pain, anxiety, fear, and depression from mental illness, substance abuse, or both.

Kahn had read an article about “forest bathing” in Japan, and “that’s what I wanted to bring inside — an immersive experience for children and their families in that waiting room. I wanted to give kids something interesting to look at, to think about, to help them calm down. I thought this would help prepare their hearts and minds a little bit.”

Visit DLC to see Kahn’s work at the Children’s Outpatient Building. Learn more about Kahn and her business at LisaKahnDesigns.com.

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