As industry withdrew, the creative types came and populated the empty factory floors of the big cities. Art, furniture design and work life benefitted from this international trend. EGGER, a supplier of wood-based materials, interprets this trend with its forthcoming decorative range.
He built the bath tub himself – from wooden slats and tar. He only used it in the summer as in winter it was too cold to bathe without hot water. We’re talking about the as yet still unknown artist Robert Rauschenberg, who in 1953 was one of the first New Yorkers to move into a “loft”. And because of financial reasons, as that’s how the trend started: with 10 dollar a month rents.
Six-meter high walls, steel beams, large windows – these were now the studios and apartments of painters, sculptors and dancers. Soon these artist’s lofts were creating competition for the galleries, as they served not just as living and workspaces, but also as exhibition areas. The pinnacle of this development came with Andy Warhol’s “Factory”: the clue was in the name.
Then everything happened very quickly. The New York politicians realised the potential of the factory floors and supported their development by legalizing the often not quite legitimate living situations of the artists. The loft moved from the margins to the mainstream of society. This also meant: the rents rose. Very fast.
Soon, the creative scene in London discovered the new opportunities available, in Germany Frankfurt and Leipzig developed into loft-cities and in Paris the Bohème moved into the derelict industrial space. Today lofts are no longer chaotic, improvised, stopgap solutions, but an important element in the housing market.
In Europe, the loft was ‘discovered’ only in the ‘70s, but already in the '80s it was a status symbol. At the moment there are, at least in the big cities, no longer as many derelict industrial buildings that could be converted into houses - Ursula Geismann,Trend Analyst of the Association of the German Furniture Industry.
Which has led to a new type of architecture becoming popular: the new building loft. Something else that lofts have made popular is the open floor plan, living together in a large, open space. Zoning became important anyway, so a degree of privacy was always ensured. Either with partitions, open shelves or other furniture that is placed in the middle of the room. "Since this development, our sofas also look from behind good," says Ursula Geismann.
Architects became sculptors, as they could no longer divide the space into rooms, but rather ‘model’ it. With steps, small mezzanines or rooms in rooms. Many residents enjoy the huge airy space of a factory floor by attaching a swing or a hanging chair to a brace of the steel structure. The loft has become a playground for new ideas. The open floor plan has also contributed to the fact that the kitchen, living and dining room have become one unit.
Dissolving boundaries, rethinking habits and creating new connections – the loft has always been a trigger for this. It has also changed the architecture of work spaces. Individual offices were torn down in favour of open plan workspaces. Simultaneously furniture was design to create islands of tranquillity: sofas and chairs with head-high backrests and armrests or desks that shield their occupants with large hoods. But as pioneering as the first lofts were they also had the effect of preserving. Had lofts not imbued the old factory buildings with new life, they would have been demolished. And it’s precisely in this balance of old and new that the sustainable success of the trend probably resides, showing once again how ground breaking and inspirational the past can be.
EGGER revives the loft style and developed a variety of new decors for its decorative collection, which will be launched in January 2017. The generous open spaces of city loft living are represented through various material reproductions which are also to be found in the urban area and wear a slightly used look.
For more information please visit the EGGER website.