Posts tagged with "Interiors":

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Four new spaces turn Tribeca into New York’s newest design destination

As the home of AN Interior's parent publication, The Architect's Newspaper, for 12 years, Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood has steadily developed a spicy, post-work hangout scene. The latest places to pop up in our community include four chic, inviting spaces that offer commuters and locals alike the chance to savor the sweet taste of good design (at a good price) any time of day. These stunning and simple venues—a timeless tea parlor, a cozy cocktail lounge, a sunny seafood spot, and a sky-high, Danny Meyer dining experience—all opened this year to rave reviews for their food, drinks, and decor. Next time you’re in Tribeca, you won’t want to forgo seeing these inspired interiors for yourself. Primo’s Designer: Camilla Deterre 129 Chambers Street Primo’s exudes a surprising and sexy contemporary twist on Italian Art Deco. Designed by model Camilla Deterre, the striking bar packs speakeasy sentimentality and midcentury modern elements into a small, two-room space hidden inside the Frederick Hotel. Long drapes with rich primary colors and cotton velvet upholstery covering curvaceous banquets give Primo’s an aura of luxury, but the soon-to-be late-night Tribeca mainstay is more informal than it appears. The chrome-outlined bar boasts an impressive organic wine collection and serves an array of dreamy classic cocktails and avant-garde absinthe coolers that will knock your socks off. Manhatta Architect: Woods Bagot 28 Liberty Street, 60th Floor As culinary impresario Danny Meyer’s most recent endeavor, Manhatta serves as a home in the sky for delicious food and jaw-dropping views. With less glitz than you’d expect from a restaurant of this stature—it nearly covers the entire top floor of Manhattan’s first International Style building—its elegant yet friendly atmosphere overwhelms any sense of high society. Woods Bagot’s design for the French-American eatery and bar brings dark wood, weathered granite, brass fixtures, and jewel-toned Chinese paintings together to subtly create an intimate setting with an unparalleled perspective of New York. A Summer Day Cafe Architect: Savvy Studio 109 West Broadway This relaxing restaurant and raw bar transports urbanites to Italy’s Amalfi Coast with an enticing seafood selection and a maritime mood. Dreamed up by architecture and branding studio Savvy, the 1,290-square-foot space oozes summer simplicity. It’s one of Tribeca restaurateur Matt Abramcyk’s latest ventures and an experiment in stylishly crafting the sensation of leisure and calm. The concept is a nod to photographer Joel Meyerowitz’s 1985 book A Summer’s Day, with a material palette inspired by boats, seaside cottages, and industrial fish markets.
Interlude Architect: Kimoy Studios 145 Hudson Street Founded by Juilliard-trained classical pianist Josh Kim, Interlude is an Asian tea and coffee cafe that serves its signature matcha tonic and homemade baked goods in a light-filled, minimalist space, designed by KIMOY Studios. Kim combined his passions for gastronomy, design, and hot drinks to open the business (which he runs with his sister and girlfriend) this summer. The bright white marble, polished black granite, and warm wood tones found throughout the cafe were hand-selected to mimic the look and feel of a grand piano.
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Rockwell Group’s Blue School brings a pop of color to Lower Manhattan

Rockwell Group’s design for the recently opened Blue School in New York City falls outside the lines of traditional design for primary and secondary education, especially in the cramped Big Apple. While the school includes many basic elements such as closed-door classrooms and a sizable cafeteria, the one thing the architects were expected to uniquely incorporate for the private school, which was founded by alumni of the Blue Man Group, is color. Lots of color. Stretched across four floors of a mixed-use, former medical building in Manhattan’s Financial District, the school serves as a “home away from home” for its kids, featuring flexible spaces and playful palettes that encourage creative self-expression and pride at all ages. The Blue School opened last month for its inaugural semester, welcoming 100 students and 70 faculty members through its shiny glass doors under a neon sign signaling its presence in the neighborhood. The 45,000-square-foot facility is the New York-based institution’s second campus designed by Rockwell Group. It provides much-needed breathing room for the school’s fourth through eighth-grade levels, which were previously housed in what’s now the primary school located in the South Street Seaport. Thanks to the move, pre-kindergarten through third-grade students were also given more space inside their facility, which opened in 2010. For the Upper School, as the new facility is known, Rockwell Group leveled up the design out of respect for the older children, who naturally are becoming more mature as they age. The architects outfitted the space with a bright, eye-catching interior and a layout designed to spark personal discovery as well as collaboration. “There’s a sense of respect the kids feel in spaces designed for them,” said Michael Fischer, the associate principal who led the design with David Rockwell. “They have autonomy, feel empowered and trusted.” Upon walking through the doors of the new Blue School, students, teachers, and guests are greeted with a lobby sporting a lounge-like feel, as well a high-gloss, neon yellow central staircase that serves as the main point of circulation in the facility. To the left in a community space called the Commons, colorful outdoor furniture adds a contemporary twist to the cafeteria setting along with bleacher-like seating wrapped in wood and staggered along the walls for a topographical effect. Additionally, a bar with stools lines the edge of the 1,800-square-foot space overlooking the street. The Commons also includes walls lined with LED-lit garden planters where food is grown as part of the school’s science curriculum as well as for students’ meals. The living wall is maintained in partnership with Brooklyn Grange and enhances the living room-like atmosphere of the shared space. On the basement level, Rockwell Group created a grown-up version of their Imagination Playground system with which students can construct their own seating stations using shapely, blue-foam cushions. The surrounding walls are clad with colorful, geometric wallpaper by Flavor Paper. Two studios as well as a column-free gymnasium, which doubles as a 130-seat auditorium—the Blue School’s first ever performance space—were also designed for the school’s arts and exercise programs. If flexibility is an integral part of the Blue School’s educational philosophy and its interior architectural design, the concept is most evident on the top floors where each learning space includes key elements that allow teachers and students to take over space how they see fit. Rockwell Group collaborated with Uhuru to create non-directional trapezoidal desks that can be easily set up to form clusters for group-work situations. Each classroom also includes a raised carpeted platform dedicated to quiet reading or presentations. An art room, maker lab, and materials library were also given major space on the second floor. Both are fully stocked with every kind of arts and engineering supply imaginable, from paint brushes to saws, to glue and glass. An adjacent materials library—open to the kids at all times—serves several fields of study and specific STEAM courses. The Blue School’s library features a book-lined, double-height reading space with a massive sofa and custom common tables by Rockwell Group for Knoll. Hanging from the ceiling next to the curtain-wall window is a light sculpture designed in collaboration with Dot Dash Design. It changes colors throughout the day and amplifies the school’s interior at night. From the street level, passersby can see activity within the facility and students get a sense of inclusion in the bustling neighborhood. Since the Blue School began in 2006, it has added one grade level per year to its roster of students—hence the need to build out a new campus for its burgeoning population. The first group of kids to begin at the school recently graduated from 8th grade and though they never had the chance to move into the new Upper School, they were integrated into the extensive planning process that Rockwell Group held with students, parents, and teachers. The school expects the number of students to double over the next several years. Blue School will featured as an Open Access site during Open House New York this Saturday, October 13th. Check it out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or go on a guided tour with representatives from Blue School and Rockwell Group at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are not required.
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At Roman and Williams’ flagship restaurant-store, everything is for sale

As restaurants try to drum up alternative revenue and traditional retail outlets continue to feel the squeeze from online shopping, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors has brought the best of both worlds at their new flagship store in SoHo. The 7,000-square-foot design store, café, and flower shop, neé Roman and Williams Guild, is a showcase of Roman and Williams’ work. Here, diners can lick the plate clean and then buy it. Roman and Williams is well known for their work at the Standard Highline and ACE Hotels as well as high-end residential projects. Expanding into a consumer-facing brick-and-mortar space in an expensive Manhattan neighborhood seemed like a natural progression. The 44-seat La Mercerie café within the Guild is built out with pieces from Roman and Williams' new Founding Collection, and everything is for sale. The café’s light interior palette of blonde wood and pastel blues, described by Roman and Williams as “watery-blue cast, pale-gray floors and an indigo enameled kitchen” matches the exterior of the landmarked building. But walk to the back of the restaurant and through the arched threshold, and those muted colors are replaced by deeper hues of blue and a more rustic tone in the back showroom. This is where interested customers can pick up pieces in a more traditional design setting, with a heavy emphasis on wood, leathers, and fabrics. The Guild also houses a flower shop helmed by local botanist Emily Thompson, and her arrangements can be found throughout the entirety of 53 Howard Street.
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Take a peek inside the homes that architects have designed for themselves

Architects’ Houses Michael Webb Princeton Architectural Press $41.69

Thirty architects share their own houses in the recently published tome Architects’ Houses by AN contributor Michael Webb. Here, we share six of the diverse interiors that offer an in-depth look at what architects design when they design for themselves. Baan Naam, Venice, California, by Kulapat Yantrasast. The Thai-born architect mastered the art of concrete construction and put it to good use on the rear wall of his own house. House of the Poem of the Right Angle, Vilches, Chile, by Smiljan Radić. An espino wood sculpture by Marcela Correa hovers beneath the skylights of a house at the foot of the Andes. Tower House, Ulster County, New York,by Peter and Thomas Gluck. Living spaces are cantilevered from a stack of three bedrooms to command sweeping views over the treetops. Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, has buried his L.A. home in a sloping corner site. NOHO, or No House, will eventually be concealed from the street by dense plantings. This Puget Sound home in Washington is where Jim Olson goes to kick his feet up on the weekends. Longbranch is a continually evolving home, and Olson recently added several new rooms to the older house.
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Architect Brandon Haw hews a stunning dermatology office out of fiberglass

A massive light-filled loft on 5th Avenue is a prime canvas for interior architecture. Unless, of course, the client brief requests eight treatment rooms, a nutrition center, two cryotherapy care centers, a reception area, a retail area, and a few support spaces to go along with it. Then, things get considerably more complicated. These were the opportunity and the accompanying complications architect Brandon Haw faced when he was tapped to design the New York Dermatology Group (NYDG) Integral Health and Wellness flagship office by his friend Paolo Cassina, the Italian designer. “We grappled with the idea of how we could put this much activity in this wonderful, big space and yet somehow hang on to the light and volume,” Haw said. “With that in mind, I began to play around with the idea of these light, ethereal curtains around the treatment rooms. As the idea of the curtains started to gel, we asked, ‘What if we created a pod and put that in the middle, so that you come into the reception area along the very large windows overlooking 5th Avenue and then follow that line of windows around to your treatment room?’” Haw began sketching a wavy line suggestive of such a curtain and was considering a modular screen system when he and Cassina spoke with Fabio Rombaldoni of Sailing, who had worked on a number of residential projects as well as yacht interiors. The trio came up with the concept of using a yacht-hull maker to fabricate four different panel molds that joined together seamlessly to form an organic, wavy pod in the center of the space. “It was custom-made by hand in Italy, and it was quite amazing,” Haw explained. “The panels are imbued with color and the consistency by the process itself with no external spraying or painting.” The opalescent white fiberglass panels were mapped out in Italy at full scale like a giant puzzle and then exported to the United States where they were assembled. Haw and his team paired the subtle, shimmery white pod with bronze fittings and used the existing industrial dark-wood flooring. Then they lowered the ceiling plane by creating a bespoke wood baffle so that the eye would be drawn up to the edge of the 11-foot-tall pod and then to the sleek wood planks. To continue the airy aesthetic in the enclosed treatment rooms, Haw selected pulverized quartz flooring that is bright and a little sparkly but extremely durable and easy to clean. To outfit the rest of the office, Haw and Cassina delved into what they felt a wellness space should be: “sumptuous, luxurious, comfortable,” Haw said, where people feel “comforted, but at the same time get a sense of clinical efficiency.” To truly embody those descriptors from wall to wall, Haw and Cassina designed a line of contract sofas, seating, and side tables specifically for the NYDG office that will be commercially available later this year. The furniture is sleek, with unexpected cutouts and an emphasis on smaller love seats, which accommodate one or two persons, rather than long sofas. (You might have a friend with you, but when was the last time you cozied up with random fellow patients? Exactly.) “The way I come at architecture and design is all about the use of the space and lifting the spirits of the people functioning within the spaces—both the clients who are coming in and the employees who are there every day. Timeless elegance was at the forefront of this project, and there was a great attention to detail.” This attention to detail and creative process make the paradoxical space—open and private, light and dark, comfortable and clinical—look and feel just right.
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Atelier Hitoshi Abe brings city views indoors with a pair of reflective oculi

The dominant “indoor-outdoor living” narrative that drives so much of Los Angeles’s architecture can seem old and tired, but every now and then a project comes along that presents a new perspective on this classic arrangement. The Terasaki Research Institute (TRI) by Los Angeles–and Sendai, Japan-based architects Atelier Hitoshi Abe (AHA), is such a project. TRI was founded by the late Dr. Paul Terasaki, a University of California, Los Angeles professor and longtime almost-client for AHA whose exciting visions for potential projects could never quite get off the ground, as Hitoshi Abe, AHA principal, explained. One day, Terasaki approached Abe with a realizable commission: new offices for a namesake research institute that would carry on Terasaki’s legacy in the field of modern organ-transplant technology. Terasaki was interested in experimenting with a new brand of semi–al fresco, semipublic architecture that could better engage with the community and support lectures, exhibitions, and other public programs. The doctor tasked AHA with creating a 15,000-square-foot building that could function more like an arcade courtyard than a research lab; AHA responded by connecting street and interior via an outsize internal hallway overlooked by the building’s main programs. The inverted complex is located in Westwood—steps from the UCLA campus—in the shell of an old commercial building sandwiched between an Urban Outfitters and a Sur La Table. There, a plate-glass and stucco facade gives way to a broad foyer that contains a small bookstore filled with daylight and medical texts. Beyond a round desk and up half a flight of steps, the building’s main level unfolds on either side of the internal street, which is proportioned for group gatherings and socializing. The 25-foot-wide hallway runs the length of the building, creating two atrium spaces that are connected along the ground but are interrupted above by a pair of bridges, one containing offices and the other a lounge. The rough stucco-clad walls in the gray atria are populated by seemingly random punched openings. Some of the square apertures are transom-height windows into office and meeting areas; others are waist-level connecting to a single-loaded corridor wrapping the second floor. A tertiary field of smaller squares along these walls conceals air-return grilles. A translucent, double-membrane PTFE roof system supported by a lightweight metal tension structure encloses the space. The hub-and-spoke design leaves room at the top of each atrium for an oculus, which the architects wrapped in reflective metal. The mirror-finish oculi reflect different kinds of light and views into the space depending on the time of day, including twisted vistas of the surrounding city with its postmodern condominium and office towers. Beyond the second sky bridge sits a serene presentation room that functions like a gallery and is oriented around a large LED screen that shows a rotating selection of electronic art and media. Abe explained that he and Terasaki came together hoping not just to bring the public into the institute, but to extend the life of the street into the offices “so researchers could look with interest into their own building.”
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Fogarty Finger reveals an upscale WeWork for the Brooklyn Navy Yard

As major changes and speculation over what’s next hover around the Brooklyn Navy Yard, S9 Architecture’s Dock 72 office tower is nearing completion. The stepped, 16-story building is currently receiving its facade, and co-working company WeWork has already laid claim to 220,000 square feet of office space. With so much ground-up space to work with, the company (and developers Boston Properties and Rudin Development) has tapped local firm Fogarty Finger to design the amenity spaces for their new digs Fogarty Finger took cues from residential and hospitality design to impart a softness throughout, which, given their track record in designing high-end office spaces, is why the studio was chosen for the job. From the renderings, it seems the interiors are a step up from WeWork’s typical glass-and-reclaimed-wood look, usually handled by their in-house design team (Bjarke Ingels had no role in the project, either). Dock 72 is the first ground-up office building to be built in Brooklyn in nearly 30 years, and given the building’s Class A ratings (the highest office standard) and waterfront views, Fogarty Finger was responsible for designing 35,000 square feet of high-end amenities. Two bar-and-lounges, one on the ground floor, the other adjacent to the 16th floor’s conference center, a 600-foot-long, 30-foot-wide lobby that runs the length of the building, a juice bar, spa, gym, café, and a market. The interiors lean heavily on an industrial aesthetic (concrete floors, black steel columns), with strategic splashes of warm wood paneling along the ceiling and a white oak trim in the furniture. In keeping with the Navy Yard's effort to bolster New York City's manufacturing base, local manufacturers from the yard were invited to curate the public areas. As founding partner Robert Finger describes it, Dock 72 is only the latest project to escalate the included amenities as developers try to capture Class A office space tenants; high-value tech employees in this case. Once the next phase of the Navy Yard’s expansion is complete, Dock 72 will link up with a suite of planned waterfront amenities surrounding the office core.
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Seth Rogan and other celebs pair with designers for unique NYCxDesign pieces

Digital magazine Sight Unseen has paired 13 celebrities from film, fashion, and art with 13 interior and furniture designers to create one-of-a-kind objects for this year’s New York Design Week (NYCxDESIGN). Each of the items are available for sale, with the proceeds going to benefit a charity of the pair’s choosing. The collaboration is part of Sight Unseen’s fifth annual OFFSITE fair, which will be spread out across 13 separate venues across downtown Manhattan between May 17 and May 20. The collection, dubbed Field Studies, will anchor the fair’s central hub at 201 Mulberry Street. “The idea was to connect creatives across disciplinary boundaries so they could search for commonalities in their practices and discover what unexpected ideas might result,” said Sight Unseen in a statement. Contemporary design studio Bower and actor Seth Rogan have created a massive mirror inspired by “shared influences  —  midcentury  furniture,  street  art,  and  the  colors  of  1980s  pop  culture.” The six-foot-tall mirror is actually composed of glass strips positioned on top of a gradient painting, lending the illusion of a three-dimensional globe. Artist and designer Christopher Stuart and artist Julia Dault have produced a circular, backlit sconce that seemingly “peels” away from the wall it’s attached to, revealing a soft glow at the corner. Designer Fernando Mastrangelo and actor Boyd Holbrook have created a set of planters carved from massive lumps of coal, in reference to Holbrook’s father, a Kentucky coal miner. Creative consulting and interior design firm Wall for Apricots and actor Jason Schwartzman have designed a postmodern pastel pink-and-gold piano with matching stool. The team wrapped a classic 1970s Hohner Clavinet Pianet keyboard inside of a plywood console table to completely disguise the instrument within. Furniture and lighting designer Kelly Wearstler and fashion blogger Aimee Song have put together a shaggy sitting stool made from dyed goat hair, with brass legs ending in plunger-like red marble feet. Designer Harry Nuriev and artist Liam Gillick have fabricated a series of rectangular floor lamps that integrate stainless steel with the glass panels that Gillick is known for. Furniture studio Ladies & Gentlemen Studio and fashion designers Kaarem have encased custom Kaarem fabric swatches in resin to create a series of vases. Architect Drew Seskunas of The Principals and musician Angel Olsen have built a machine that translates sound waves into wax forms. The resultant shapes were then used to cast unique aluminum candlesticks. Rafael de Cárdenas of Architecture at Large and fashion stylist Mel Ottenberg have translated the ribbed structural details of furniture into three quilts, each made of luxury materials like merino and suede. Designer Oliver Haslegrave of Home Studios and stylist Natasha Royt have reinterpreted the suit stand for the modern age, including stratifying different types of marble into the cubic base. Interior designer Kelly Behun and fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez have put together a sculptural, asymmetric lounge chair that forces its occupant into an unfamiliar situation where they need to rebalance themselves. Glass designer Thaddeus Wolfe and chef Ignacio Mattos have designed a hand-blown glass cake stand that resembles a hunk of ice. The glass is embedded with concave lenses, which appear to minimize whatever’s placed inside the case. Painter Andrew Kuo provided an artwork and furniture maker Tyler Hays of BDDW took the opportunity to turn it into a puzzle. The pieces and lettering within are obscured by Kuo’s design for an added level of difficulty. All 13 pieces are available for sale here.
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Graham Baba transforms a Seattle warehouse into a glass studio flooded with light

Lino Tagliapietra Glass Studio 2006 2nd Avenue Seattle Tel: 206 420-4867 Architect: Graham Baba Architects Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects (GBA) has transformed an existing triple-bay warehouse in the city’s Belltown neighborhood into a new studio and gallery for renowned international glass artist Lino Tagliapietra by topping the 1917-era shipping facility with a new 16-foot by 45-foot light cannon. The cavernous 6,100-square-foot, single-story space is marked by two rows of heavy timber columns, with ancillary programs discretely circulated around the ware- house’s perimeter. Visitors enter the project at street level, which sits 30 inches below the structure’s finished floor. Starting at the street edge, a gently sloping ramp located at one extreme of the building carries visitors up into the gallery, bypassing a series of display cases along the way. Within the principal gallery, the aforementioned light cannon is outfitted with a curving soffit that subtly bends clerestory-derived light as it enters the continuous, gray-painted, brick-lined interiors of the space. Adjacent programs are designed to take advantage of this borrowed light and include a glass-clad office and conference room, a pair of restrooms, a kitchenette, and storage areas. Sustainable Europly laminated wood cabinetry and furniture pieces wrap the gallery and office spaces, while art panels and drop-down mobile displays showcasing the artist’s work populate the building’s other areas.
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A trippy throwback bar with 60’s vibes opens in Chelsea

The Woodstock 446 W 14th St, New York Tel: 212-633-2000 Designer: Damaris Cozza Located on 14th street in Manhattan under the High Line, The Woodstock is a recently opened 1960s-themed restaurant and bar designed by set designer Damaris Cozza that features a vivid, retro design and specializes in cocktails and Neapolitan-style pizza. The 4,000-square-foot establishment is divided into two zones: a larger dining area and a smaller-scale lounge, both painted in bright colors. Communal tables fashioned out of repurposed bowling lanes and marble-topped tables occupy the larger hall, with seating comprised of a motley mix of mid-century furniture. The lounge, clad in wood paneling, has two coffee tables surrounded by plush leather and canvas couches. To cement the lounge’s homey personality, lava lamps, antique lamps, and even a stuffed rabbit are scattered across the space. Emphasizing the restaurant’s 1960s vibes are a series of period posters and paintings, ranging from President Kennedy’s campaign ads to psychedelic prints. Of particular note, The Woodstock boasts a rotating set of twenty-four Salvador Dali artworks from owners David Sitt and James Morrissey’s personal collections, as well as a fuchsia felt pool table.
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Inaba Williams converts a challenging interior into a luminous Brooklyn preschool

Although architects design new buildings for well-endowed nonprofits all the time, it is somewhat uncommon for firms known for high design to take on super-low-budget commissions. But Inaba Williams was up for the challenge. For a new preschool in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the Inaba Williams team drew out the quirks of an awkward, column-filled interior to deliver a luminous space that supports the school’s commitment to immersion in Japanese language and culture. The Brooklyn-based firm connected with Aozora Gakuen after the school leased the space, which had sat vacant for two years despite its location in a desirable neighborhood. Unlike most chronically empty New York commercial properties, the rent wasn’t too high for prospective lessees—the space was just too weird. The second floor, where the school is located, doubles as the structural transfer level between the apartment tower above and offices and a parking garage below. In plan, the structural columns look like confetti left over from a manic crafting session. To reconcile the column array with the client’s needs, the team highlighted the irregularities of the 3,500-square-foot space while harmonizing the circulation pattern across three classrooms, a bathroom, and a shared kitchen. Inaba Williams founding principal Jeffrey Inaba opted to move the classrooms to the perimeter and organize an interior pickup and drop-off area (called the Aozora Room, “blue sky” room in Japanese). Surrounded by glass panels that pull light in from the street-front classrooms, that area is the heart of the school as well as a transitional space from the outside world into the classroom. Along with cubbies (getabako), it’s delineated by a raised wood floor that physically separates the shoes-on portion of the school from the classrooms, which, in accordance with Japanese custom, are shoes-off. Typically, architects work to mask irregular features, but in the Aozora Room, they turned what Inaba deemed “the craziest part of the structure” into a defining feature. Making use of what he called “an aspirational Marcel Duchamp door,” a reference to the French artist’s Door: 11, Rue Larrey, the design now has one door leading from the bathroom to the classroom and the other leading from the bathroom to the Aozora Room’s threshold area. All the doors can be opened for seamless circulation or closed for activity separation. To save money, the firm installed standard fixtures and “very, very economical” wood floor and tiling. While Inaba declined to go on the record with the budget, he did say the project cost far less than a typical New York institutional interior—without sacrificing design quality. Consequently, “there’s programmatic variability with very simple elements,” he said. Beyond design, the experience made the firm excited to work with other mission-driven clients. “There are many organizations where the physical space is critical to what [the client] does, but they don’t have the means to afford an architect or think about design,” Inaba said. “To be able to work with a group and make a space that aligned with their teaching philosophy was really important.”
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The staircase is just the beginning in a Spanish house that artfully melds the old and new

A staircase becomes the focal point of Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco's textural exploration of materiality, texture, and history. There is a riot going on with the staircase. An army of little interventions has taken the house by storm, showing the many lives, agents, politics, and temporalities of the interior. The infamous gotelé (stippled paint) that covered all the popular houses in Spain during the aftermath of Francisco Franco’s death is now used as a pattern in a polyurethane curtain; a hanging garden of tropical plants bridges the outside landscape and interior views; a crown-like neon lighting fixture embedded in the ceiling shows the negative of the exterior—a crenel-topped tower with lancet arch windows; a porthole that looks into the staircase provides opportunity to observe it all. This staircase is just the beginning of a constellation of actions that the New York-based architect and curator Lluís Alexandre Casanovas Blanco imagined for the renovation of this house. It is located in Cardedeu, an old village 27 miles from Barcelona that experienced significant suburban development during the Spanish real estate boom of the 1990s, transforming from a pleasant agricultural landscape into a high-density urban spot. Instead of appeasing the many contradicting histories of the place, Casanovas dug into the possible discordances of the materials that populate the house, taking familiar objects and turning them into a heterogeneous network of connections and conversations. In this sense, the folkloric crochet typology used for quilts is revived with the technology of Dyneema, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fiber. At the same time, Casanovas considered the work to be a collective endeavor, taking into account not only client consideration but also the collaboration of teams for each intervention and even the photographic representation of the project itself. The importance of the objects marks the position of the designer. For Casanovas, the house’s original design, materials, and construction details reveal the pursuit of opulence that drove part of real estate–boom design in Spain—from the entrance veranda supported by prefabricated, cast Doric columns to the hall and the staircase covered in mass-produced Andalusian tiles, all showing the varied influences, sense of belonging, and re-territorializations of aesthetics. The privileged views over the old town from the house’s back facade at the edges of a suburban area and cow fields are under continuous threat; once the country experiences an economic recovery, the fields will probably be urbanized. But the hanging garden inside the house acts as a reminder of the possibilities of a parliament of living agents. The aesthetics invoked through these interventions are cataloged like an archaeological site, where signature design objects coexist with popular items, such as figurines or inherited furniture. These elements, along with Casanovas’ interventions, employ different ranges of technologies. The idea is to modify the architectural thinking itself and re-signify it: Instead of taking the old and new objects as isolated elements, Casanovas has brought them together to consider them as vertices in a network. The whole image seems like a teenager’s bedroom in which the varied elements do not build a monolithic universe; rather, they articulate a possible multiverse. They explain the relationship between subjective and objective means when accounting for symbolic and imaginary creation in the area of representation. They do this through shared agencies constituted in particular spaces and times, where other agents—groups (the real estate developers), individuals (the clients), objects (the different interventions)—are implicated. The distinct elements help create fluidity among spheres, categories, and relations and are used simultaneously to manage the consequences of such fluidity. Starting from a recognition of the material’s role as an ensemble of processes that form, constitute, and extend the reticulated character of social relationships, we understand that it does not only concern people, but also legislations, conceptions of landscape, and senses of belonging. The staircase is a riot because it doesn’t perform as a pacifier in the context of an architectural design, but as a continuous conversation wherein the familiar elements can gain agency in the discussion of spatial elements. The house is no longer a space of consensus and peace, but a realm of material disputes.