Brenden Ravenhill and Margie Garrison may run Los Angeles lighting design and manufacturing company Ravenhill Studio day-by-day, but for a couple of months each year the two relocate to Maine, to unwind and build things. One such thing, built on the shoreline of Ravenhill's childhood stomping grounds, is the Sea Sauna project, an 8' x 6' cedarwood spa designed to call the cold waters of the Islesford, Maine harbor home during the year's warmer months.
For several years the floating sauna concept existed merely as a daydream. But when the 2020 COVID pandemic struck, Ravenhill and Garrison found themselves sheltering in place in Maine, and in one weekend, a kismet donation of salvaged materials was enough to set the project afloat.
Inspired by Japanese architecture from Ravenhill's 2019 trip to Tokyo, the sauna is uncomplicated and compact, centering its cedarwood structure as the star of the show.
Much of the materials have been repurposed, found among the local community. The timber frame and flotation came from neighboring lobstermen; the finger float was uncovered from an overgrowth of beach rose along the waterfront; the hearth was made from remains of a local museum's slate roof. And the impressive stove? It came from a nearby jeweler, who welded it in 1979.
The weight of the sauna was a major concern-she does have to float, after all-so the designers made sure to use only what was necessary throughout the structure. To shave some weight, interior cladding was foregone, leaving cedar shingling to serve as both interior and exterior wall.
One window sits at the back of the sauna, and beneath that, a bench, designed to match the simple and clean lines of the surrounding woodwork. Cedar was used throughout the project for natural pest- and water-resistance, and its familiar woodsy scent.
Maine waters may remaine quite refreshing year round, but in the Sea Sauna, temps can reach 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Just come prepared with a cozy towel, and polar plunge-ready nerves.