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, a young couple who had lived there for several years, 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. In subtle ways, the new partitions act like the “beloved hedge” which prevented philosopher poet Giacomo Leopardi from seeing the horizon, allowing him to imagine endless spaces instead. The sequence of spaces, and views from room to room, leave options for the mind to wander.