Dorian Grinspan, the founder of Out of Order magazine, had been working for years with our friend, the designer Javas Lehn. He had just bought a very interesting apartment on the fourth floor of a corner building in Greenwich Village and asked Javas to put us in touch. The building could be described as generic, without any specific architectural features, but sat on a fabulous location, with lots of windows looking out onto Greenwich Street below. The apartment itself was 1,000 square feet, a long rectangular space divided into small sections that didn’t make much sense. The idea was to create a very quiet, serene home, a sanctuary in New York City, which is anything but calm and quiet.
This was a difficult brief to achieve as the apartment was only four floors up from the noisy street below, and its small size made it complicated to work on as every square inch needed to be maximized. We proportionally spend more time on smaller projects, like this one, and we appreciate them for the intellectual and practical challenges of grasping the importance of proportion, surface, and size in an immediate way. What was very exciting in this case is that we had carte blanch with the design, made possible by the trust and reputation we had built over the years.
We started working on numerous plan concepts and variations and ended up with what should have been evident from the start: an open-plan apartment with a bedroom facing a quiet corner, a completely open living room, and a small jewel-like marble bathroom at the back of the apartment. When you first open the door, you have light, you have space, and everything becomes visually silent, muting the hectic world outside through “an architecture of silence.” A wooden table by Charlotte Perriand, a chair by Geraldo de Barros, and a small photograph by Wolfgang Tillmans were some of the art and design details that brought our design style from Europe into the United States, and we also incorporated beautiful Belgian fabrics into the custom-made sofa. We created the type of space that someone in New York would dream of coming home to, allowing them to recharge before stepping back into the hectic world outside.