Friday, December 31st, 2010
It’s rare for a firm that is known for its designs of skyscrapers and multi-million dollar developments to entertain the idea of renovating a single apartment unit. But that’s exactly what multi-disciplinary design firm Global Design Strategiesdid with Loft 108, a light-filled living space inside the former van Houten Chocolate factory in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. “Many of our larger architectural projects draw on the surrounding city as a compositional participant,” explains architect Michael Kirchmann. “Loft 108 allowed GDS to explore such parameters on a different scale, and the building infused character into the design.”
Michael Kirchmann and GDS acted not only as the architect, but also as designer, developer, construction manager, financier and art curator for Loft 108, after the family inhabiting the apartment requested an eclectic installation of artworks to complete the loft’s makeover. “A big part of the inspiration was ‘the love of art as education.’ Every piece of art in the loft has a rich story behind it that can be passed along to their two children,” Kirchman says. His firm’s unique artistic expertise was gained through past collaborations with artisans, writers, choreographers, scientists and engineers on its many international building designs.
Kirchmann gives Design Bureau a tour of the art gallery/loft apartment that inspired him to put his skyline-grazing designs aside.
Kirchmann decided on using a simple style for the loft space, which meant stripping a quarter of an inch of old paint from columns and beams and revealing beneath it wrought iron and natural timber. GDS used off-white walls to maximize the daylight that naturally streamed into the apartment through dramatic floor-to-ceiling double-hung windows. Kirchmann called on Lenny Kushnir of Siberian Floors to help select the best finish to make the loft’s floors pop, deciding on wide-plank Russian white oak floors. “In spaces such as this, the finish of the floor has to work together with the light in the space and the furniture,” explains Kushnir.
Loft 108′s subtle material palette created the perfect blank canvas to install more than 30 works by New York City artisans, along with antique African art, many pieces of which Kirchmann sourced and procured himself. Featured works include:
Light Therapy 108:
A performance light installation by Matthew Schreiber, which he exhibited in the loft in front of an audience of peers, press, writers, gallerists and videographers. The large piece, which was inspired by the concept of light therapy, glows inside a niche in the combination kitchen, dining and living room, and is made up of a pinwheel of fluorescent tubes.
Prints by William Kentridge:
A South African artist known for his animated films and lively hand drawings.
An LED Matrix piece:
Artist Leo Villareal created the installation based on the work being done for the Bahrain International Airport. TheTom Sachs‘ “Hello Kitty” polaroid was purchased after the owners took their kids to see the installation at the Lever House.
A Collage of Twine:
Famed artist Fred Sandback, noted for his minimalist conceptual-based yarn sculptures, drawings and prints, created the piece. In line with the theme of “art as education,” the composition includes a copy of a transcript for Dia Beacon on how to maintain and restore Sandback’s works. “The narrative behind the art is valued as much the pieces themselves,” says Kirchmann.
Text by Murrye Bernard
Photos by Stuart Dalton Phillips
Tagged with: Fred Sandback • Global Design Strategies • Leo Villareal • Loft 108 • Matthew Schreiber • Michael Kirchmann • Siberian Floors • Tom Sachs • Tribeca • van Houten Chocolate • William Kentridge