Posts tagged with "Interior Design":

Placeholder Alt Text

Russel Wright’s renovated Manitoga shines with hand-crafted details

In 1942, the industrial designer Russel Wright and his wife, Mary Small Einstein, purchased a 75-acre abandoned stone quarry in Garrison, New York, on the eastern side of the Hudson River. The wooded site has a spectacular view down to the river, and Wright lived on the property until his death in 1976. He chose a dramatic spot above and adjacent to the deep stone quarry to build a home he called Dragon Rock, and spent the rest of his life refining and redesigning the terrain. For example, he redirected a stream to fill the quarry with water, creating an idyllic swimming pond.     The house itself, designed by the architect David L. Leavitt, is a straightforward midcentury-modern glass-and-wood-frame structure tucked into the steep stone hillside with an early green roof, but it is in its details, surfaces, and wall treatments that one can sense Wright’s creative genius as a designer. He found iron tools and large stones in the quarry and used them as door handles. The house has a distinctive Japanese sensibility in its handcrafted details and choice of materials. We examine nine of Wright’s handmade details in order to better understand the famous designer. The house, now called Manitoga, The Russel Wright Design Center, is open for public tours May 18 to November 12. Check visitmanitoga.org for details.
Placeholder Alt Text

NICOLEHOLLIS studio designs a high-contrast office for itself in San Francisco

Almost every architect has horror stories about the Client from Hell, the unpleasant entity whose capriciousness or bad taste leaves the designer fuming. Arguably, though, the hardest client to design for is yourself. San Francisco’s NICOLEHOLLIS studio took on the tough task of designing an office for itself, in an old loft in the city’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Whereas it formerly ran its business in an old machine shop, the studio now operates out of a 5,000-square-foot single-floor office in a building that could command a corner in SoHo or Tribeca. The build-out, led by Hollis, takes advantage of “terrific” natural light and gorgeous views across the city to offer its designers (and visiting clients) an elegant, high-contrast office that’s both a lab for deep focus and a collaborative, social workspace. The office is a study in black, white, and light. Working with Inna Baranova, the studio director for interior architecture, and Adele Cunningham, the studio director for residential projects, Hollis crafted custom white central workstations with built-in standing desks that are both naturally lit and illuminated with FontanaArte’s Avico pendants. Although it’s often tough for light to reach the center of the floor plate in converted 19th-century factory buildings, NICOLEHOLLIS had the opposite problem—windows on all four sides. Hollis said she and her team used window treatments and UV filters on all the window panes. Conference rooms occupy prime window real estate, because clients like to soak up the views, she added. NICOLEHOLLIS carefully considered employee areas, too. Office kitchens are often drab afterthought spaces, decorated only with break-room signage and passive-aggressive Post-it notes. Hollis designed an island that encourages her staff to socialize, and there’s a large table for family style lunches. Back at work, the materials library is divided by boards charred using shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique that burns wood to preserve it. Throughout, the office is sandwiched by gray poured-concrete floors and a white concrete ceiling. “The white allows us to clear our heads and take a fresh look at our work,” Hollis said in an email. “Black is grounding and adds depth and shadow in contrast to bright light.” Hollis’s custom piece near the entrance exemplifies the NICOLEHOLLIS approach. “The reception desk is my ode to Donald Judd,” she said. “I take a lot of my cues from fine art. I love Judd’s work—its spatiality and relationship to context. The desk is also mirror polished brass and makes a strong statement about the studio’s ties to materiality and craftsmanship.” The studio works mostly in California, on residential and commercial projects, including plenty of offices. Hollis said the firm recently completed a Silicon Valley office, and it designed an office for HALL Wines, in the Napa Valley. But there’s another office project closer to home. NICOLEHOLLIS now boasts more than 50 employees, so Hollis and her team are looking to expand the space they’re in now with individual work spaces, as well as more conference rooms, materials libraries, and dining areas.
Placeholder Alt Text

Five wallcoverings inspired by the natural world

These wall coverings conjure visions of fanciful landscapes, including neutral hues, florals, abstract organic forms, and materials that emulate naturally occurring aggregates.
Airbloom Abstracta Inspired by how forms in nature change through shifting seasons, Swedish designer Stefan Borselius abstracted botany and devised floating, full-bloomed flowers. The hanging felt acoustic partitions diffuse distracting sounds and create dynamic visual spaces.
Albemarle by Paul Smith Maharam This textile is inspired by the cast-iron facade of Paul Smith’s No. 9 Albemarle Street shop in London. The store, designed with 6a Architects, is an interpretation of Georgian architecture found in the city’s Mayfair district. The same motif of interlocking ellipses that wraps the storefront is etched in three color variations on tightly woven cotton.
Déchirer XL by Patricia Urquiola Mutina Déchirer pairs the rough, tactile surface of concrete with the delicate patterns associated with ceramics. The new XL size combines textures from different materials, marrying porcelain and 80 percent recycled glass mosaic with the grout for the joints. The barely perceptible relief can be used in both floor and wall coverings and is available in three stone-hued colorways. Twisted by Docey Lewis Maya Romanoff The illustrious weaver teamed up with the Chicago-based wallcovering manufacturer to design a wallpaper made from simple materials—in a pleasantly unexpected way. The wallcovering is composed of hand-painted paper stripes that are twined and then woven on a wooden loom. It is available in eight neutral colors. Herbario Aimée Wilder Finnish artist and filmmaker Paola Suhonen pressed wild mountain flowers in a book for an entire year. These colorful compositions were reworked from the pages into an anthology of 12 whimsical wallpapers.   [SPONSORED] EZ Wire Systems by Gyford Standoff Systems
Placeholder Alt Text

Sean Griffiths plays with restrictions to turn a small kitchen into much more

Designing for friends has its advantages. More trusting than an anonymous client, a friend will often let you get away with a lot when it comes to pushing creative boundaries. This was the case when Sean Griffiths started work on the Hearn Hill House in South London. Griffiths, head of London-based Modern Architect, and once a member of the now-disbanded FAT, has been taking such opportunities to work out what exactly it means to run a post-FAT firm—experimenting with color, geometry, materials, and illusion. Despite its limited scope—a small ground-floor kitchen expansion—the project immediately faced strict building restrictions due to its location in a conservation area. The area’s restrictive code prevented the addition from wrapping around the rear to the side of the building, but did allow for extensions out from both faces separately. Rather than fighting this condition, Griffiths opted to take the code quite literally and make two glazed extensions, achieving needed natural lighting, maximizing floor space, and exploring some spatial ideas. “With this project I was aiming at a kind of realism. That partly has to do with the way planning constraints shape a project like this; there are certain structural issues and a sense of materiality,” explained Griffiths. “So in the first instance, the plan is almost completely (and absurdly) determined by planning rules. This led to structural and spatial issues that resulted in the odd placement of the column (which also made it interesting) and the use of mirrors to resolve the spatial problems in the largely predetermined plan.” In order to rationalize the kitchen’s new, slightly awkward footprint, Griffiths deployed a number material and graphic techniques. Drawing on a time-honored trick, two floor-to-ceiling mirrors double the perceived size and brightness of the room. The mirrors also produce a visual symmetry, negating the effect of the code-determined floor plan. Columns in the space are pebble-dashed, a nod to Brutalism, as well as the facade of next-door neighbor’s home, visible from the space. “The client wanted something Brutalist, but we couldn’t afford that so we pebble-dashed the column. In the UK this is thought of as a tacky finish that poor people with no taste apply to their houses and that middle-class people spend a lot of money on having removed when they buy houses covered in it.” With limited budget and space, color and pattern would have a significant impact on the project. Undeniably, the most striking feature of the room are two large designs painted on the floor, wall, and ceiling. Continuing the geometric motif of the columns, these graphics produce a forced perspective, which once again challenges the shape and size of the room. Distorted from all but one angle, when the viewer is properly positioned the shapes snap into perspectival alignment, appearing to be 3-D. For color, a rich green and a series of grays were pulled from Andreas Gursky’s photograph Rhein II, which is one of the most expensive photographs ever sold, and a favorite of the clients. With the Hearn Hill House addition, Griffiths takes the project’s challenges, legal limits, and limited budget, and turns them to his advantage. A play on representation and reality, flatness and form, the space realizes ideas far beyond its humble programming.
Placeholder Alt Text

Look inside the new Brooklyn outpost of The Wing, a women-only co-working network

Co-working network The Wing has opened the doors of its DUMBO, Brooklyn location, the first outside of Manhattan, and members can expect to find the company’s signature pastel pink hues, color-coordinated bookshelves, and eclectic mix of materials in play here as well. Founded in 2016 by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, The Wing was envisioned as a series of members-only co-working and social clubs for women, and quickly hit $42 million in investments. While The Wing only opened its first office in October 2016 in the Flatiron neighborhood, the company has been eyeing a rapid expansion, especially after competing co-working company WeWork contributed to its latest funding round. “Expanding to Brooklyn was a no-brainer for The Wing,” said Gelman in a statement sent to AN. “A third of The Wing’s current members call Brooklyn home, and it is consistently one of the most requested locations. We are excited to welcome new women into The Wing’s community and continue the company’s growth.” The Brooklyn branch is housed at 1 Main Street, the neighborhood’s former tape factory and home of the notorious Clock Tower penthouse. Keeping true to the building’s industrial past, architect Alda Ly and interior designer Chiara de Rege have stripped the ground floor space to its bare bones and left the columns, beams and ductwork exposed, and poured pink concrete for a distinctive flourish. The former factory also provided space for a double-height central atrium, and the duo used the opportunity to carve out a second-level balcony space. De Rege has said that utility and beauty don’t always go hand-in-hand, but despite being completely open, The Wing DUMBO uses the seemingly-eclectic interior finishes to break up the club’s different areas. While a pink granite dining table in the atrium draws attention as a central meeting place, the green velvet of the nearby conversation pit easily separates it from the subdued palette of the rest of the space. Color was a major component of the design, and the blues, golds and pinks set the plush interiors apart from the stoic wood-and-glass aesthetic of The Wing’s competitors. The café areas are marked by their thinner, more finely detailed chairs and pedestal tables, but the color-coded library is instantly recognizable as such by the assortment of plush and rounded couches. That lending library, curated in partnership with New York’s Strand Bookstore, contains over 2,000 books by women authors, and each bookshelf swings open to reveal soundproof phone booths. The partnerships don’t stop with The Strand. All of the featured art is curated by and features solely local women artists, The Wing’s café and bar, The Perch, serves food from women-owned partners, and copies of No Man’s Land, an-house magazine launched last fall, are available throughout. A podcast room, vintage photo booth, meditation room and shower are all open for members, but The Wing has opened its reception and retail sections on the ground floor to the public. The DUMBO office might have opened on February 26th, but if you want to join, you’ll have to wait your turn; the waitlist to become a member is at 13,000 names and growing. The company's fourth location will be opening in Washington, D.C. sometime this spring.
Placeholder Alt Text

Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture highlights Italian heritage with their latest cafe

Stop by the latest outpost of Sant Ambroeus for your morning coffee and you may not notice all of the design at play. But you’ll certainly feel it, as you enjoy an espresso, Italian-style, at the counter. Your leg will sink into the angle of the Dark Emperador marble slab, and suddenly you’ll feel anchored, calm. That’s because visitors to the Upper East Side coffee shop are in the competent hands of Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture, who used mock-ups to convince their client to place the glowing pastry case at the back and allow generous room for flow. “There’s always a leap of faith from the client, but the shorter you can make it and the more you can show the reasons, the better,” said Enrico Bonetti, the project’s principal in charge, whose firm lead the renovation of the entire building, now called the Hanley. A native of Bologna and a self-professed coffee obsessive, Bonetti looked to the brand’s heritage, “like a producer,” to create a space that would feel both fresh and within the visual language established since the first Sant Ambroeus opened in 1936. “We adjusted what they had, fine-tuned it, and tried to bring some level of quality that you don’t see, but you feel,” Bonetti said. Every element, down to a brass niche precisely proportioned to hide the requisite box of latex gloves, was carefully considered. “You don’t find places like this in Italy,” Bonetti said, settling into a coffee-colored Thonet chair. “The level of refinement is very New York.” Behind the counter, rounded tiles of Marmo Rosa di Verona were glued to the walls by “two very old installers” imported, like the stone, from Italy. The tiles’ shape mirrors the oiled American walnut tambour that clads the remaining walls, while their shade references Sant Ambroeus’s signature peachy-pink hue. Even the ceiling is painted with purpose, nearly imperceptibly, in Benjamin Moore’s Burlap, a neutral take on the color. While it’s unlikely anyone would notice the hue, the entire space glows warmly thanks to layered lighting with metallic-capped LED bulbs in simple ceiling-mounted Schoolhouse Electric fixtures as well as architectural cove lighting combined with a pair of vintage 1950s Paavo Tynell sconces and brass Alvar Aalto pendants. The same care was given to details like the matte black paint that makes the tables’ legs seemingly disappear, the wood newspaper holders sourced from Germany, and even the height of the custom leather bench, which puts sitters at eye level with those across from them. “These are not things that anybody notices, but at the end, they stay with you if not properly treated.” The team also worked with kitchen consultants Clevenger Frable Lavallee to make the space as functional for those working behind the counter as it is beautiful for those waiting in line. But, Bonetti had more than just his clients to please. “It’s mostly thinking selfishly,” the architect joked, “because I want to come back and have a really good cup of coffee.”
Placeholder Alt Text

Plastic shoes and feminist art make a standout pair at Galeria Melissa NYC

It takes a lot to get a walking New Yorker to look up. Entranced by a phone, or scanning the sidewalk for the fastest way forward, only an explosion, a gunshot, or a really cute puppy can grab one’s attention. So it was with surprise that this writer witnessed, on a recent summer morning, a gaggle of people surrounding a new shoe store on Broadway, in Soho. That store is Galeria Melissa NYC, and the people were staring at feminist video art on two really large screens. Inside, the boutique, by Brazilian designer Muti Randolph, is a footwear paradise in a gallery. This is not the first New York store for Melissa, nor is it the first time the brand, also from Brazil, has worked with the designer. Though Randolph’s vision guided the design of this space, Melissa’s parent company, Grendene, enlisted a local firm to make it all happen. Grendene chose Mancini Duffy for its deep roots in the city and for its retail expertise. Perhaps best known for corporate interiors for clients NBC Sports Group and A+E Networks, the firm has also redesigned one floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, and remade multiple Bloomingdales. So what’s the difference between designing for a department store versus street-level retail? Here, Mancini Duffy did almost nothing to alter the landmarked cast-iron facade, and the store is impossible to miss from the street. In the triangular vestibule, two giant LED screens reflect infinitely off of mirrored flooring. On a recent visit, the screens displayed work by artist Sam Cannon as part of The Future of Her, an in-house exhibition curated by sisters Kelsey & Rémy Bennett. Cannon’s video, a pastiche of mildly subversive candy-colored women’s bodies coated in fluid, heralds the shiny smooth plastic shoes on the main sales floor, just up a metal-lined ramp. The aesthetic is futuristic, if your vision of the future includes lots of lasers. Plastic shoes shine like wet Barbie feet, and the merch looks even more vibrant thanks to white LED ceiling lights. The ribboned overhead lighting is rigged to an MDS lacquered box, which beams out light across at least three walls of mirrors (four if you count the shoes displayed, Hall of Minerals–style, behind a two-way mirror). Melissa’s second life on social media, particularly on Instagram, played no small role in the store’s design. Thanks to online shopping, “there’s been a paradigm shift in how retail works,” said Ali Aslam, designer at Mancini Duffy. Though some decry the death of brick-and-mortar retail, the proliferation of images on the internet is transforming real-life stores into “boots-on-the-ground marketing for brands.” To do this effectively, the team employed eye-catching everything to make the space stand out in that sea of hashtags. In a nod to the structural cast iron columns that dot the main floor, shoes are set out on mini millwork-and-plaster columns, painted a shiny black. While the smaller, movable white displays are lacquer-painted medium-density fiberboard (MDF), the larger, central ones arranged around the structural columns are fabricated in Corian. Though it’s tempting to linger in the main area Instagramming, there are two more rooms to explore. Near the cashier’s desk, a lush green wall beckons from the rear of the space. The architects worked with plantwalldesign, which also did the green wall at Lincoln Center, for this project; the plants can live for decades under (carefully calibrated) light and irrigation systems. The cashier’s desk, Aslam said, exemplifies the collaboration between Randolph and Mancini Duffy. The artist rendered a piece with a long cantilevered edge that looked cool, but would be almost impossible to build. The architects worked with him from the ground up, using the firm’s in-house design lab to 3-D print a model. That model was sent to a millworker in Brazil to create a desk that was “almost to a T the exact thing we agreed on,” Aslam said. Another mini-room, kitty-corner from the cashier’s desk, contains shoes, but the main focus is an immersive video artwork by Signe Pierce, a self-described “reality artist.” The store will host four exhibits annually, a figure that handily coincides with the four best shoe-buying seasons (all of them).
Placeholder Alt Text

Take a tour of New York’s marble-wrapped Oscar Wilde bar

The building housing Oscar Wilde, a new bar at 45 West 27th St. in Manhattan’s NoMad district, was once the headquarters of New York City’s Bureau of Prohibition and the mob, whose members reportedly listened in on federal agents there. With 300 whiskeys and 32 beers on tap, many sourced from New York State, Oscar Wilde’s 118.5-foot-long bar—one of the longest in the city—is the centerpiece of the entire 5,874-square-foot space, starting from the front, near the entrance, and eventually wrapping around the back wall. Designed and commissioned by owners Tommy Burke and Frank McCole, the bar consists of a top of white Italian Carrara marble, while the base is gray-green, ornately carved, Victorian-inspired Connemara marble from Ireland. The entire bar was carved by hand in Vietnam. Carved stone can be found elsewhere throughout Oscar Wilde: on the hostess desk directly inside the front door, as well as on what McCole calls “belly bars,” individual bars with round tops where patrons can stand and drink. McCole and Burke spent five years collecting the wonderfully eclectic works of art, stained glass, and furniture that cover almost every square inch of every surface of Oscar Wilde, making between 30 and 40 trips to Ireland, the British Isles, and France to find objects for sale at old estates and auctions. They even uncovered European antiques, such as the oak door of the restroom on the ground floor, in Argentina. Scattered throughout—on many carved elements, in the windows, on some walls—are direct quotations from Wilde’s writings. The bar officially opened August 15, with C3D Architecture as the architects of record.

The Dallas Architecture Forum Presents 365 MODERN LIVING COCKTAIL RECEPTION

A great evening at one of the most interesting residences in Dallas. Full-Floor High Rise with Interior Architecture by Tom KUNDIG and Interior Design by Emily SUMMERS and their teams. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres, and the chance to see the residence and hear from some members of the design team while enjoying the company of fellow design enthusiasts. The reception will be from 6 to 8 pm with remarks from some of the design team at approximately 6:45 pm. Valet parking will be provided. Business or cocktail attire is suggested. Purchase Admission https://dallasarchitecture.ejoinme.org/MyPages/365ModernLivingHomeReceptionSeries2017/tabid/908550/Default.aspx Admission is $90 per person for The Forum's members, $110 general admission. Limited attendance, Advance purchase required. Purchase can be made by credit card at the link provided, or by check, payable to "Dallas Architecture Forum" and mailed to P O Box 596119, Dallas, TX 75359. Those who purchase admission will receive confirmation from The Forum, including address and valet parking information. Monday, 30 October 2017, 6 to 8 pm PARK & PEARL HIGH-RISE RESIDENCE The Park & Pearl Residence floats among the critically acclaimed architecture of the Dallas Arts District. It is home to a forward-thinking couple who desired an industrial backdrop for their modern high- rise apartment. From a full floor shell apartment, the design team carved out interior spaces that celebrate the client's cutting-edge style and smartly unconventional approach to modern American life. The elegant, oval-shaped building perimeter is wrapped with floor to ceiling windows. Both the floor plan and architectural finishes were conceived to capitalize on the expansive 360-degree views and simultaneously mitigate the immense amount of Texas sunlight that would pour into the space. The window mullions were painted black to enhance the industrial feel of the residence. A midnight dark ceiling system with exposed ductwork was installed and 'almost black' terrazzo floors were poured. The disciplined commitment to light absorption carried into secondary finishes as well with inserted broad strokes of hot-rolled blackened steel, black walnut, and bright red lacquered metal walls. Living spaces, entertaining areas, and bedrooms are expertly located along the perimeter, unique views framed in each. Down the center of the unit are expansive corridors; the spine of the apartment. They provide storage, traffic flow, and gallery space. Clerestory windows allow light to inconspicuously graze the corridors without fully revealing the source. Aesthetically, the interior design extends the industrial architectural dialogue while avoiding loft clichés. Plush rugs, deep color tones, and bold curves create inviting gathering areas with instinctual traffic patterns encouraging people to explore the windows and views. Multifunctional rooms with custom furniture pieces function well, both for everyday activities and a robust entertaining calendar. The family room accommodates a movie night for the entire family and can also be an intimate dining spot for two. The space can be transformed for social events when one can turn the architect's famed "gizmo" and reveal a red lacquered bar hidden behind hot rolled steel panels. The client-proclaimed "man cave" has its own kitchen along with a ping pong table that doubles as a secondary dining spot for more casual affairs. The home is the perfect backdrop to display the owners' growing collection of contemporary art. From artists like James Brooks to Tomory Dodge, the clients have an eye for bold contemporary art that really pops and adds a unique element to this industrial residence. Interior Architecture: Tom Kundig, FAIA; Paul Schlachter, AIA Olson Kundig Interior Design: Emily Summers, ASID; Jennifer Long Emily Summers Design Associates About the Dallas Architecture Forum The Dallas Architecture Forum is a not-for-profit civic organization that brings leading architectural thought leaders from around the world to speak in Dallas and also fosters important local dialogue about the major issues impacting our urban environment. The Forum was founded in 1996 by some of Dallas’ leading architects, business, cultural and civic leaders, and it continues to benefit from active support and guidance from these citizens. The Forum fulfills its mission of providing a continuing and challenging public discourse on architecture and urban design in - and for - the Dallas area. The Dallas Architecture Forum's members include architects, design professionals, students and educators, and a broad range of civic-minded individuals and companies intent to improve the urban environment in North Texas. The Forum has been recognized nationally with an AIA Collaboration Achievement Award for its strategic partnerships with other organizations focused on architecture, urban planning, and the arts. For more information on the Forum, visit www.DallasArchitectureForum.org. Among the over 130 speakers who have addressed the Forum’s Lecture Series are Shigeru Ban, Brad Cloepfil, Diller + Scofidio, Peter Eisenman, Michael Graves, Daniel Libeskind, Thomas Phifer, Rafael Vinoly, Juhani Pallasmaa, AIA Gold Medal Winner Peter Bohlin, and regional architects David Lake and Ted Flato. Pritzker Prize winners speaking to the Forum have been Kazuyo Sejima, Rafael Moneo, Thom Mayne, Rem Koolhaas and Norman Foster (the latter two in collaboration with the ATT Performing Arts Center). Other speakers for the Forum have been leading designers Calvin Tsao, Andrée Putman, and Karim Rashid; landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh; and National Trust President Emeritus Richard Moe. Important critics, authors, and patrons who have spoken to the Forum include Emily Pulitzer, Terence Riley, Pulitzer Prize winners Robert Campbell and Blair Kamin, Aaron Betsky, and the late David Dillon. The Forum organizes and presents an annual series of Panels—local, informal, open, and offered free of charge as a public service to the community—led by a moderator who brings a subject of local importance along with comments by participating panelists. Moderators and Panelists have also come from both other Texas cities as well as from national institutions that were connected with particular Panel subjects. Panels offer attendees the opportunity to participate in creating discourse. Important topics addressed in Panels in recent years include: “Thoughts on the Dallas Comprehensive Plan”; “The Kimbell Expansion: A Discussion”; “Filling Out the Dallas Arts District”; and “Re-envisioning the Trinity”. For more information on the Dallas Architecture Forum, visit www.dallasarchitectureforum.org. For questions about the Forum, call 214-764-2406.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Why is Maximalism taking over the world?

Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s maximalist vision of domestic bliss involves saturating every corner with color, texture, and pattern. Their traveling installation of housewares by Seletti, in collaboration with their magazine TOILETPAPER (mounted this past December by Fondation Beyeler in Art Basel Miami Beach as Maze of Questions, and in New York’s Cadillac House this spring as TOILETPAPER Paradise by Visionaire), covers a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen with images that are both seductive and absurd—blood-red nail polish on disembodied women’s fingers, cloudlike kernels of popcorn floating through space, and large-scale spaghetti noodles—on ostensibly every available surface, embracing both an Italian postmodernist and a 1950s American-housewife nostalgia.

The installation coincided with Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard’s dystopic department store installation, The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment, a February “happening” in collaboration with Red Bull, the lifestyle brand formerly known for its energy drinks. Melgaard created a derelict department store and stuffed it not only with clothes designed in reference to a few of his favorite things (Bash Back!, a pro-queer activist group, for example, or Chris Kraus’s landmark novel I Love Dick) but also with selections from his own wardrobe, piled like heaps of garbage for the public to take, Hunger Games-style.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Yayoi Kusama’s ongoing Hirshhorn Museum retrospective features an array of her iconic Infinity Mirror Rooms, in addition to The Obliteration Room, a seminal 2002 work in which viewers are given dot stickers of various colors and sizes to cover the interior of an all-white home—refrigerator, tables, chairs, sofa, and all. Over the course of the exhibition, the interior becomes an increasingly vibrant, pulsing collage.

These four distinct artists share a common aspiration for the absolutely maximal, which, contrary to the abstract, discrete gestures of minimalism, creates an extremely personal alternative physical landscape. Art bleeds into the design sphere, taking into account the space in which it is shown: in all of these cases, the familiar environments of the domestic or commercial space.

Both museums and non-art brands alike have caught on to the allure of maximalism, its immersiveness and, perhaps more importantly, its interactivity; more than ever, viewers are invited to do the unthinkable and lay their hands on the art. Social media is also certainly complicit in this maximalist resurgence, thanks to Instagram and the prevalence of the #artselfie. Apart from its widespread free publicity and appeal to sheer vanity, the #artselfie offers a kind of tactility in the digital age. Visitors physically insert themselves into the composition of a work and take its visual properties home with them to keep. Particularly in an era in which two-dimensional work is readily available on screens, it’s the maximal that encourages the public to make a physical, often emotional, connection to a work of art.

The other function social media serves for the rise of maximalism is its inherent ability to widen one’s worldview. For younger artist and designers who grew up as so-called digital natives, the internet offers both infinite surface area for their mood boards and instant access to the visual history of the world, regardless of era or location. “For them, history is a treasure trove,” Chicago Architecture Biennial cocurator Mark Lee said in a recent Artforum interview. “They don’t feel shame or guilt to retrieve from it.”

Two young designers experiencing a meteoric rise (and who happen to share a studio) are Misha Kahn and Katie Stout, whose respective practices—both rough-hewn, eccentric, and often displayed within textured, oozing, psychedelic environments—mix kitsch and pop culture with astute art-historical references. When naming his sources of inspiration, Kahn often takes out his phone as a visual aid, naming Eskimo carvings, Gwen Stefani, and Pee-wee’s Playhouse among them. And for Stout, Dolly Parton, Raymour & Flanigan, and Charlotte Perriand are equally influential on her body of work. The world of maximalism embraces imperfection and provocation, banishing isolation and passivity on both the part of the work and the viewer. The source material is both art history and personal history, untidily accumulated and repackaged—once more, with feeling.

Placeholder Alt Text

Suchi Reddy designs an art-filled home as lush as its surroundings in Miami Beach

When Suchi Reddy, founder of New York–based Reddymade Design, was tasked with redesigning a 12,000-square-foot home in Miami Beach, Florida, she learned that the job would involve not only designing the space, but also helping the client curate an extensive contemporary art collection. Situated on Sunset Island, the home is affectionately known as the “Sweet Spot,” and Reddy’s vision was a careful balance of architecture, art, and design.

The 1939 waterfront house was built by a Cuban sugar baron in a hybrid style of Caribbean colonial and Hollywood regency. Reddy’s design transformed the estate into a comfortable contemporary home that also showcases the client’s art collection. Each space was carefully designed with that collection in mind, with additional work introduced by Reddy, including pieces by Gerhard Richter, Marina Abramovic, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Erin Shirreff, Kate Shepherd, and Barry X Ball. The architecture plays directly with the art—for example, the curving main staircase winds around a 17-foot-long light installation by artist Pae White, chosen by Reddy precisely for the space.

Throughout the six-bedroom, eight-and-a-half-bath home, each room was treated as a separate design opportunity. “Part of the challenge was that every room is fairly large, and to create intimacy and comfort within a large space can be quite a difficult task,” Reddy said. “I took a sculptural approach to designing the spaces as a response. Each room was conceived as a ‘gallery’ of sorts, with curated objects, furniture, and art.” 

As would be expected of such a project, the detailing of each space is meticulous. From elaborate molding to a variety of floor finishes, every surface is considered. In some cases, Reddy worked with existing elements. “The lounge near the bar had walls with plaster palm trees—not a staple of modern design strategies,” she explained. “I decided to treat them as texture that was filled out by the curtains between them, and change the focus to the center of the room by creating a circular seating area that becomes a focal point, drawing you through the axis of the house.”

A major portion of the design was the choice of furniture. The dining room features a floating glass table designed by Poetic Lab. Another room centers around a thick telescope glass coffee table by KGBL. Colorful textiles play a key role in many of the spaces. In the living room, sculptural furniture is clad in bright African wax-print fabrics, one of Reddy’s own passions. “My Indian heritage gives me a very deep appreciation of textiles and texture,” said Reddy. “And that love informs every space, not with an Indian influence, but with a sensibility for spaces that feel sensual.”

Placeholder Alt Text

In a Seattle neighborhood of traditional family homes, Heliotrope Architects create a modern abode using local materials

In a hip and funky part of Capitol Hill—Seattle’s answer to Brooklyn—sits one new home that is unlike the others. Amid the surrounding sea of bungalow and cottage-style homes is a new residence designed by Seattle and-Portland-based Heliotrope Architects. With its stained-cedar facade and abstract gable roof, it is contemporary yet quietly different, its boldness found in soft details, a monochromatic color palette, and honest materials.

An engineer and an artist—the former an online-retailer employee and the latter a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design—initially reached out to Heliotrope for the project. The couple had big plans to create a home on an empty mid-block lot (the former cottage-style home on the lot was razed) that could house a shared art studio space and feel airy, light, and cheerful.

The interiors take inspiration from white-walled contemporary art galleries, providing a neutral backdrop to a clean, clutter-free space filled with smart furnishings and Arne Jacobsen lighting fixtures. “The approach is not indulgent,” said Heliotrope co-founder and principal Mike Mora. “It’s relatively modest.”

White-painted sheetrock adds tranquility and calmness without feeling sterile. There are Northwestern myrtlewood floors in the peripheral spaces and wood-look tile and concrete flooring (with radiant heat) in the main living areas. The kitchen features custom cabinetry and walnut butcher-block counters, and the living room has custom bookshelves, all crafted by local builder Dovetail (known for building out local Seattle eateries like Joule and Mezcaleria Oaxaca). Ample glazing and skylights bring daylight inside, valuable in a region that can have nine months of cloud cover each year.

“It’s not just a two-story box,” said Mora, explaining why they focused on keeping the house low instead of maximizing the building envelope.

There is a thoughtful balance and unity between contemporary and warm, indoor and outdoor, public and private. As Mora explained, the design relies on a checkerboard layout—a careful juxtaposition between the interior and two ground-level gardens that help distribute natural light throughout the home (there’s also a rooftop garden as well). The master suite is split between two levels: The master bedroom is on the upper floor and looks over the double-height artist studio, while the master bath downstairs includes a custom Japanese soaking tub and cedar countertops. The guest suite lies underneath the gable roof, separated from the master suite.

In the end, Heliotrope was driven by its clients’ close connection to design. “Physical objects are important to them,” said Mora. In fact, the couple is so meticulously organized that the house required just five minutes of staging before the photographer came to shoot this feature.