Archive for June, 2009
Christopher Losa freely admits to being “OCD.”
“I need to exist in a space that’s free of clutter,” he claims, and it’s this compulsion that led him, in 2003, to his present home in San Francisco. At first glance the empty loft condo seemed run-of-the-mill, but Losa had a strong vision for the space and high hopes for his new life in the Mission Disctrict. He and his wife, Elizabeth, tired of the Beltway-driven life in Washington, DC, moved to the Bay Area to find an environment with more cultural stimulation. Losa, an independent supply-chain management consultant for 16 years, an excellent cook, and longtime food connoisseur, dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
They opted for a loft because “it’s a clean way of living,” says Losa. “It’s a beautiful thing to come home to a space that opens up. In a way, it’s everything that ‘urban’ isn’t.”
The transplanted couple’s 1,400-square-foot unit had the usual: tall ceilings, concrete floors, large windows, no walls; “a big white box,” in Losa’s words. In order to remodel it to fit their needs, they hired Joshua Aidlin (of Aidlin Darling Design), who based his eventual design around what he calls “a generous amount of eastern morning light” that streams in from tall ground-floor windows.
Aidlin conceived a plan made up of five architectonic elements: “the cradle,” “the zipper,” “the hearth,” “the stage,” and “the scrim.” After two years of renovation, the loft was transformed into a radiant interior dotted with mid-Century treasures . . .
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Nested in SoHo, the original loft neighborhood, is this 1,800-sq.-ft. medical professional bachelor’s “weekend urban getaway.” We found this pretty lil’ one through Resolution: 4 Architecture who designed the space of the entire fifth floor of a newly constructed building, and wanted to separate the public rooms from the private rooms, since the loft was intended to be used primarily for entertaining. The architecture firm organized the space so that the entertaining area would be one large “box,” or a linear volume-of-utility along one edge.
You’ll also notice how each specific “room” is defined by a piece of furniture and its material, each piece acting as a signifier and differing from the next. The built-in and free-standing furniture offer compliments to and soften the raw space: the office area is identified by the mahogany desk, the dining room by the rosewood table, the kitchen by the teak island, and the living room is defined by a wenge wall. The entire space comes together and flows nicely with a system of translucent and sliding partitions.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
After speaking with Chateau Marmont designer Campion Platt we were inspired to check out Andre Balazs’s latest property. West coast destination staple, The Standard, has opened shop in New York after establishing itself as a design mecca to Hollywood and Downtown LA travelers.
The 18-story glass and concrete tower was designed by Todd Schliemann, partner with Polshek Partnership Archicects, and sits in the heart of the Meatpacking District atop the High Line, housing 337 guest rooms decorated by Roman and Williams.
Also home to the Living Room bar and The Standard Grill, the hotel is a design destination which includes several public spaces for visitors to enjoy as well. The grand total would be two restaurants and five bars, including a roof deck with a and beer garden on the ground level.
Featuring the best in modern architecture and decor, rooms start at a recession-freindly $199 per night–virtually unheard of for a boutique hotel stay in New York.
Photos via Design Therapy.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Q & A by Erin Ryder
Portrait by Tom Ackerman
Interior Photography by Susan Gilmore
LOFTLIFE: We loved your space at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Tell us about the vision you had, to keep it cohesive. Were you trying to keep the flow between the other designers in the house or did you have your own singular vision?
ANDREW FLESHER: I just had my own vision. That’s one of the great things about a show house. It’s similar to doing your own house in that you just don’t have any limitations. Nobody’s going to say, “You can’t do that.” When I designed the space for Kips Bay, the His master bathroom, the way I thought about it was: How would I like that space for myself. And basically that’s what I did; I created a bathroom that I would like.
LL: Your firm, Gunkelman Flesher, now has offices in New York and Minneapolis. Do you see a change in the taste of your clients from city to city?
ANDREW: Yeah, I think that people in Minneapolis are more conservative than people in New York. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do some work in New York, because I felt creatively I needed a change, I needed to push myself a little further. And I didn’t feel like I was doing that so much in Minneapolis.
LL: How long ago was that?
ANDREW: That was just a year ago.
LL: Have you done any commercial spaces in New York yet?
ANDREW: I’ve been mostly residential. And you know, I would say probably 95% of my business is residential . I’d love to do restaurants, or a hotel!
LL: As you know, your gorgeous white loft back in Minneapolis got a lot of attention when we first posted pictures of it on our website. What was your thought process?
ANDREW: Well, I love white. I always wanted to do a place that had white floors, like a gallery space that shows objects really well. I was living in a conversion loft: brick walls, raw. There was a building going up down the street, so I checked it out. I found the floor plan really great, with 60 feet of glass across the front, floor to ceiling. I found the challenge of dividing the space and creating something in a glass cube very interesting. It was also part of my love of architecture, Mies’ Farnsworth House, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, that kind of thing. I always wanted to try it. So I did.
LL: Aside from the idea of mirroring a gallery space, tell us more about why white is your palette of choice.
ANDREW: It’s so pure. It’s a place for your eye to rest, I think. Your eye doesn’t have to break anything apart in a white space, it gives you this great backdrop to put pieces in that act as sculpture. Furniture in a white space is almost like art and that was my concept. I wanted a place to showcase the things I had collected over the years.
LL: Besides the obvious space challenge in New York, how was your experience transitioning to your home in Tribeca?
ANDREW: I think the great thing about New York is that there’s such a vast supply of resources—there’s really no reason why your place has to look like anybody else’s place! You can personalize your home so easily because there’s so much available.
LL: How did you get into interior design?
ANDREW: When I was a kid I always thought I would be an architect. I used to love to study house plans, and I’d always ask my mom and dad to buy me magazines. Then, I got into college and studied architecture for three years: It was more engineering, calculus, and physics . So, I switched; I just felt like interior design was much more for me, more creative and less about science and just more about creativity.
LL: What are the biggest challenges with keeping to a minimalist aesthetic, while also keeping a space functional for years to come?
ANDREW: Two things: You have to listen to your clients and observe how they live. I think sometimes clients don’t realize they need something to function. When I meet with clients, I like to ask them, “how do you live?” Rather than, “how tall do you want this vanity to be?” Or “How much storage space do you need in your kitchen?” Instead I ask, “How do you want your house to feel?” (They can generally) explain how they want it to feel, but they don’t know how they want it to look and that’s why they’ve hired me. So, you know, you want to be practical. You want to listen to how they use their house and how they live.
I always like to challenge my clients a little bit, but not beyond their comfort level. Because at the end of the day, it’s really my client’s house. It’s not mine; I’m not going to live there. But I want to really guide them to make the right decisions, so, that they are pleased with how it looks and how it functions when we’re done.
LL: Who, what, or where are your greatest sources of inspiration?
ANDREW: The way I design is I put a collection of pieces together. I love individual pieces for their own beauty, things that are classic and stand on their own. And then I love the combination of things so that there’s some surprise, some tension, some juxtaposition between materials, styles, and level of formality. I think it’s so important to know what’s happened in the past, to take that, and then use it in a new way. So it’s not that you want to copy anything or that you want to recreate something that’s done before, but you can’t really go forward unless you know what’s happened in the past. And I do think that all design, and all new design, is really an evolution of what’s happened in the past.
LL: Generally speaking, have you found that design sensibility is changing during this difficult financial environment?
ANDREW: I think that people are wanting good pieces that are going to last. The state of the world today is really influencing everybody. I think that people are just more thoughtful consumers then they used to be because (of this). One of the things that is interesting, I think, is what happened in the financial world last year, it has taken the pressure off of people to have to have the latest, the newest object.
LL: With the growth of LEED-certified buildings, and the quickly growing sustainable products (from fabric to paint) available to consumers, do you feel the need to incorporate more “green”?
ANDREW: Yes. People are definitely interested in it and in fact, we just won an award for a Gold LEED certified building that we did in Minneapolis. It was actually a beautiful, classical building, originally built as a library, and turned into a family foundation office. My thought about the whole “green” movement and the need to be thoughtful of the environment is very important to me. Yet, there’s also a balance between the environment being green and it also being beautiful, because I don’t believe in throwing away good design just at the cost of, or just for the sake of, being “green.” I’m looking forward to the future when we have really great products that we can use without compromising.
LL: So, let’s run through some of you “favorites” of the moment. How about color?
ANDREW: Always white.
ANDREW: I think I have to say Duane Antiques. They have a great eye, I think.
ANDREW: You know, I love white peonies, not pink, but white peonies.
ANDREW: I love American Clay’s color I used in the room at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. Their sugarloaf white that was used on the walls has a really nice warm color, and it has such nice depth and dimension. I’m going to say that’s probably my new favorite. I am going to use it in a 12,000-sq-ft ski in/ski out project I’m doing in Deer Valley, Utah. We’re going to use it everywhere.
ANDREW: I love our stationary that we have for Gunkelmen Flescher because it’s very classic. It’s white, it’s embossed, and it has a shiny silver foil on the edge. Very clean. I use it all the time.
ANDREW: Wallpaper. I’m using a lot of grass cloths. I like grass cloths like Donghia. They make the most beautiful paper with back linens that’s very coarse. And I use it all the time. When you use it in your house, it’s almost like being in a gallery. And it makes a perfect backdrop for art and everything else.
LL: Accent piece?
ANDREW: An accent piece, how about a table I designed? It’s a little chrome, glass, and linen-wrapped drinks table that I use a lot with my clients.
ANDREW: Oh Mark Rothko is my all-time favorite. Mark Rothko and Joseph Albert.
LL: Is there any other news or projects you’d like to update us on?
ANDREW: I’ve been working on a furniture line that I’d like to shop around to see if somebody would like to manufacture it. So that’s sort of in the front of my head a lot. I think I’d like to get into some product design.
It’s time to branch out and loosen up our definition of “loft”. A home does not necessarily need to be located in a city to have the elements of loft living, especially when conversions are involved. Case in point: Check out this awesome stable-turned-live/work space from Brussels. We don’t know many details, but here is the description of the space from the photographer Ocvirk Kus Danica’s profile on OWI’s website:
“A former stable house has been converted into a photography studio, office space and living area on the top floor.”
What makes the space so great are the original elements of the structure that have been simplified with white paint and concrete. They have used the stalls as rooms, keeping the main area open save a long dining table, chandelier, and swing. And how about that oh-so-stunning circular window that serves as an anchor for the space. The benefits of practicing restraint (notice not one thing is hung on the wall) are perfecting exemplified here, where the uniqueness of the building takes center stage.
Interior designer and architect Campion Platt is widely known for pioneering the boutique hotel concept, serving as co-developer of Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont Hotel, and spearheading a benchmark project in New York of the Mercer Hotel and Merc Bar. An equally impressive celebrity client roster includes Al Pacino, Meg Ryan, Roger Waters, Conan O’Brien, Jay McInerney, and socialite Anne Hearst. He consistently incorporates fine craftsmanship and contemporary styling as well as eco-sensitive design to achieve the clean, cohesive, yet personalized spaces his firm is respected for.
LoftLife: You’re on the forefront of sustainable architecture and green design. What are the easiest elements to bring in, from both an architectural and design standpoint?
Campion Platt: The easiest elements are switching out commonly used things like plywood for a sustainable version, lighting alternates that use less energy. From a design standpoint, consider buying second hand and giving something a new life.
LL: With hotel design credits including Chateau Marmont, Mercer Hotel and MercBar, as well as Boston’s Bulfinch Hotel do you find your residential clients like to bring a boutique hotel feeling into their homes and design an upscale atmosphere suited for entertaining?
CP: I think the greatest feature is actually employing the dictum “less is more” hotel environments tend to be paired down, essential and an eye to comfort, luxury and whimsy.
LL: Where are your favorite places to travel and draw inspiration at the moment?
CP: My wife, Tatiana, and I love to travel to Morocco, especially Marrakech. There is a wealth of design inspiration at every turn and a number of great craftspeople reinventing methods that fit our sense of design.
LL: LoftLife launched in Atlanta last year, and has since expanded nationally. We saw you recently worked on the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Buckhead, incorporating the historic Southern aesthetic with modern details. How did you combine the two styles, and what were your favorite elements?
CP: The idea in Atlanta was to create a real sense of place in a modern high-rise. I studied the city and culture and drew upon the rich and layered history of both design and icons. Combining the styles was more of an editing process to identify the key features that would blend well together. My favorite element was the cypress we used in the lobby. A traditional southern wood, but a used in a modern way.
LL: A 4,000 square-foot Soho duplex loft is the type of home our readers (and we) dream about, though designing a cohesive space can be an enormous challenge. It looks open, intimate, luxurious and comfortable. What was your original vision and where did it begin?
CP: It began with my wife saying “I want a white loft in the sky!” From there, all decisions were based upon modulating the rooms; space and scale to both accentuate the great height and verticality while maintaining a sense of intimacy and casual comfort one finds in small spaces.
LL: Tell us more about your custom furniture line and the types of pieces you have created or hope to include at some point.
CP: I am working on a few new custom lines now. We are designing a contemporary and more urban collection for McGuire Furniture, an industry leader in luxury exterior furnishings. In addition, we are also working on capsule collection for George Smith, the English based purveyor of fine upholstered furniture based upon early American examples of popular furniture.
LL: How have you seen your clients taste and/or need change over the twenty years you’ve been a designer?
CP: I believe most of the client needs have remained the same except for the newer notion of a great room and/or incorporating a kitchen/dining room experience into a project. A wonderful change has also been, in general, the level of sophistication among the clients, both residential and commercial. The internet has informed us all in a more specialized way based upon our interests. Clients bring this information to the table and really help the design process.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Photography by Scott Frances
We’re always checking on the Phaidon website for the newest art, architecture, and design books that we love to salivate over. We’re even more excited when one of this publisher’s lovely books arrive in our office, and we were lucky enough to get some copies of Phaidon’s most recent coffee table books–just in time for those of us racking our brains for the perfect Father’s Day gift. Here’s just a small selection that we can’t seem to get over and realized even if you’re not a father, it makes a lovely gift for yourself as well.
This three-volume set by the Phaidon Editors features a comprehensive collection of the 999 most influential design products from the past 200 years and was compiled by a selected panel of experts that span from journalists, academics, critics, architects, auctioneers, designers, and curators. Each of the 999 objects is accompanied with text from one of the 50 experts. It’s a comprehensive volume set, to say the least. Phaidon never fails on providing a plethora of illustrations, and this set isn’t a let-down; with 3,300 pages, your dad could easily sit back and enjoy a few hours of his day just flipping through this Phaidon gift.
One of the most admired photo journalists of today, Steve McCurry (probably most famous for his infamous National Geographic cover photograph of “the girl with the striking eyes”) has compiled a new portfolio of his work from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe. It’s a book certainly for those fathers interested in landscape and portrait photography, but also for those who love looking at page after page of color photography at its best and from one of the best.
10 x 10_3: 100 Architects, 10 Critics
The third book in this series compiled by the Phaidon Editors hasn’t hit the shelves yet, so you can’t hand over the physical book to your father on Sunday, but it could still work as a belated Father’s Day gift or an early early holiday gift–either way, we wanted to give you a preview of what Phaidon has in store for September publishing. With work from 100 rising architects curated by such names as Ai Weiwei, Kengo Kuma, and Carlos Jimenez, the book is arranged alphabetically by architect and shows projects and work from the past five years. It’s a much needed update from the 10×10_2, with the new advances in green architecture, said to “have gone from novelty to necessity, walls have gone from necessary to optional, and hula hoops have become a building material.” It’s a book that understands how “local is the new international, and architecture is more artistic than ever before.” Come September, we forsee this third volume going fast.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
Here at LL we have always been fans of the Moleskine company and anything affiliated with the design-savvy brand. We jumped for joy when they debuted their “City Notebooks” a few years back. They have been gradually adding new cities to the collection; notable recent additions include Atlanta, Las Vegas, Hamburg, and Moscow, which launched this Spring. Each 228-page notebook is thread-bound with the traditional black leather cover. Each book is chalk full of useful stuff: Map with layout of the city, subway/transportation map, street index, tabbed sections to record info on food, drinks, people, places, and books, perforated sheets for exchanging messages, and, finally, nifty translucent sheets for tracing itineraries over city maps.
Be sure to get your companion for the inevitable urban travels you’ve got planned this summer.
Visit MoleskineCity for more information.
Plywood just got interesting, and the Parisian loft below shows plywood at its best. Renovated by architects Karine Chartier and Thomas Corbasson (who trained in the studio of Jean Nouvel–last year’s Pritzker Award winner), the old industrial laboratory (check out the building’s original freight elevator below) is transformed by adding a heavy textual and uncanny element–plywood.
Plywood, a moisture-proof, marine-grade, very low formaldehyde-content pine, certified by the European sustainable forest practices agreement, becomes a strong, almost abnormal complement to what would normally be simply a white, industrial space. It’s hard to see but the plywood kitchen islands are mostly on locking wheels, which creates a flexible space that can mutate from a small cooking area to a larger gathering area. Combined with the other moveable furniture, plywood has stopped looking cheap, and starts looking high-end (or high-grade, maybe?) whether it just sits pretty or on wheels.
Posted by Kyra Shapurji
Photography by Christine Besson
The art of display is almost always a challenge, especially when thick industrial walls or exposed brick make hanging art impossible. We say, when in doubt, invest in some easels. They allow you to rotate your artwork, turning your home into a make-shift gallery space. Another common conundrum is the decoration of table tops. Stacked books with objects on top, the oh-so-hip coral craze and various candle stick collections are all possible routes to go.
My current choice? Mini Easels. They come in various shapes, sizes and materials, though the ones most readily available are usually acrylic, brass, or bamboo. They are most especially useful in terms of versatility: framed pieces of art, postcards, mounted photographs, even pages ripped out of art books can all be displayed via these easels.
Here is a roundup of awesome display easels we found on the web that range from table-top to full-length:
(Clockwise, starting from upper left)
The Wahkeena table top easel from Easel Society; Acrylic tripod easel from CB2; Acrylic hinged stand from Xylem Design; Deluxe Brass Display Easel from Easel Society; Vinyl Coated Counter Display from Mamasionshopping; Twisted and Smooth Brass Wire Easel from Potomac Display
A personal favorite, this streamline metal adjustable display stand and lamp is a stunning way to show off your most precious piece of artwork or your kid’s art project from school. From Visual Comforts, through Circa Lighting.
Here are two examples of how I am using them in my apartment (the first displays a drawing that I have mounted on a faded piece of canvas and the second an acrylic framed drawing) this week . . . mind you, I’m always changing it up!
Posted by Cate West Zahl