2023 Winery Design Award: FaustAuthor:Katherine Nelson
The brooding black Victorian house nestled on a hillside above Highway 29 looks more like the setting of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale than it does the site of a world-class winery. Built in 1878 and recently renovated by owners Huneeus Vintners, this new home for the Faust brand pairs distinctive red wines with an equally unique hospitality experience. “We didn’t want this to be like any other tasting room in Napa Valley,” says Jen Beloz, estate director of Faust. “We wanted to push the boundaries of what was possible.” With its pitch-black silhouette and devilishly enticing interiors, Faust does just that.
To reimagine the historic 145-year-old structure (renamed the “Faust Haus”) and grounds, the owners assembled a team comprised of Aidlin Darling Design for architecture, Maca Huneeus Design for interiors and Surfacedesign for landscape. This group took its conceptual cue from the German legend of Faust, an alchemist who sold his soul to the devil for knowledge and earthly pleasure. The designers translated Faust’s journey to enlightenment as a transition from dark to light, layering these elements throughout the project in the architecture, interiors and art.
Addressing the bones of the home, Aidlin Darling took care to modernize the structure while staying true to its historic character and Victorian quirk. “The renovation involved preservation, new elements and substantial seismic upgrades,” says principal David Darling. “Most significantly, we opened up the upper level, including its iconic turret.” The effect is one of a sun-washed second floor that transforms the original beams, floorboards and structural details into new design touchpoints. A restored central staircase connects to the more intimate rooms below. A figurative mural by the artist Roberto Ruspoli reflects the transcendence of Faust and ties the dark lower level to the bright one above.
The interiors by Maca Huneeus Design also reinforce the idea of Faust’s ascendence. “In the downstairs rooms we used moody dark walls and rich jewel tones to give character, while the upstairs is purposefully restrained, using a light, neutral palette,” says designer Maca Huneeus. In the library, Yves Klein blue upholstery and lamp shades pop against the charcoal floor, ceiling and walls. An elm library table more than 15 feet in length and crafted by FreeForm Woodwork “glows beautifully surrounded by the dark walls,” Huneeus says. The study is cocooned in opulent crimson and features an appropriately infernal goat-themed tapestry by artist Jean Lurçat. Upstairs is awash in white and light-toned woods with furnishings featuring a mix of vintage and custom pieces crafted by Andrew Woodside Carter and others.
The residential layout underscores Faust’s new take on Napa Valley tradition. “The typical Napa experience revolves around a centrally located tasting bar, but our team conceived of a more casual, decentralized concept,” explains Beloz. “Faust Haus was intentionally designed to feel like a living space rather than a tasting room.” Outside an ombré color planting by Surfacedesign radiates out from the central Faust Haus, taking a cue from color theory proposed by author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who immortalized the Faust character. “We poured our souls into this project,” says Surfacedesign principal Roderick Wyllie. From the looks of it, they aren’t the only ones.