- Area: 1700 ft²
- Year: 2021
Manufacturers: Lutron, Galassia, PureBond Playwood, Tacchini
- Carpentry Work : Takeshi Miyakawa Design
- Rug Consultant : Studio Begüm Cânâ Özgür
- City: New York
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. Can a sober and severe design evoke a sense of whimsical wonder and discovery? In a Lower East Side apartment, a table, a carpet, and a room-sized wooden box are designed with a kind of architectural magical realism: the childlike feeling that one has when finding - hidden in plain sight - a space that unfolds into a private and personal world. This interior renovation took place on the second floor of a cast-iron building, in a spacious loft filled with diffuse, indirect light.
The original layout placed all the main living functions within the same open space, with the kitchen, dining, and living areas set at the extremities, leaving its center empty and unused. It is unusual to break up a majestic, light-filled space. Yet the owners were confident that separate spaces would better suit their needs. The idea was prescient: the pandemic hit shortly after, and the desire to live in an open loft completely lost its appeal. Partitions could provide options for privacy and the feeling of not being in the same space all of the time.
The proposed redesign fully embraced this challenge, breaking up the single finite room, and replacing it with smaller spaces that would not immediately reveal their boundaries. The revised interior layout pivots around a new, unobtrusive element: a room-sized wooden box, hiding in plain sight within the apartment. From the exterior, the box is almost unnoticeable. Its interior - which is wood cladded like a renaissance “studiolo” - is warm and rich. The double-height accommodates different options for use over time: a space for play, rest, work, or study.
And as one leaves the box, the spaciousness of the loft, its tall columns, and sudden expansiveness, come back into view as a pleasant surprise. Deceptive scale is also at play with a sprawling custom carpet, hidden in plain sight in the living area. Its color - a mix of pink, beige and blue - blends with the variegated tones of the wooden floor. The carpet is the largest object of the home - its irregular oval shape stretches to occupy as much space as possible - yet its subtle color and its unobtrusive shape render it oddly unnoticeable.
Lastly, among the objects at play is an unassuming table, slender and grand at the same time. Its most noticeable feature is a double tabletop. Structurally, the layered tabletop acts as a beam to prevent flexion. Functionally, the lower tabletop allows for a rapid shift from work to dining - as computers, drawings, and paperwork are quickly stored away. A more clandestine detail of the table is completely hidden from view.
A gap in the lower tabletop provides secret access to lower compartments, accessible only to those who choose to crawl underneath. It is a place where a child can cache toys and imagine a miniature universe, unseen inside the adult world. A secret place, hidden in plain sight, that brings a bit of wonder into the ordinary life that contains it.