Text description provided by the architects. Located in the industrial neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn, this is a project for Saipua - a small, family- run business dedicated to small batch production of handmade soaps and unique floral arrangements.
As their business evolved, and having outgrown their original storefront space, the clients sought to relocate their shop in a new facility that could house both production and retail under one roof, without compromising the unique identity that is Saipua.
This identity is more of a spirit than an aesthetic which emerges from the ever-changing juxtaposition between the handmade and the found object. Here, vintage everyday objects meet hand-wrapped soap and delicate, rugged floral arrangements in a way which evokes a sense of familiarity and fosters an intimate connection with the visitor.
With this in mind, one could not merely reproduce the old shop in a new location; rather we sought to create a new timeless space that simultaneously serves as a quiet backdrop and as an active participant in the ongoing act of making that defines Saipua.
The Beauty of Boxes – A Place for Making
There is a life and beauty that exists in an old dressmakers sewing box. That life lies not in the wood and brass hinges from which the box is made, rather it is found within the multi-colored jumble of spools of thread and the assortment of pins placed at random in the pincushion. This is an arrangement that could only emerge from use - the result of an ongoing act between the dressmaker, the dressmaker’s tools, and the thing being made.
For Saipua’s new location, situated in an existing warehouse, we sought to create a freestanding, inhabitable box that, like the sewing box, provides a timeless place for making - timeless in the sense that this place is only "complete" when occupied and filled with the life and beauty that results from the ongoing act of making.
Here a silver skin of weathered barn siding wraps to enclose two box like rooms - one nested within the other. In the smaller interior volume, rows of siding seem to slide back, revealing an assortment of wood box vessels - nooks, primed to receive Saipua's wares. With a stage-like street façade the box mediates the space between the life of the street and the workshop at the back of the warehouse.
This space functions much like the front porch of a house, serving as a place of gathering and performance: a stage where visitors take on the interchanging roles of performer and audience set against an ever-changing backdrop provided by both the interior life of the shop and the life of the street.