Thursday, August 11th, 2011
by Caitlin Gath
photos of the Upper East Loft by Shawn Brackbill
photos of Pierre Hardy and One Jackson Square by Eric Laignel
photos of the Tribeca Loft by Ake Lindman
David Mann has a routine, and he is rather obsessive about it. Every time he gets a new project, he sits in his office, surrounded by thousands of architecture, design, and art magazines, and chooses a select few. He then carefully devours each one.
As the president of MR Architecture + Decor — a prominent architecture and design studio based in New York City — Mann is good at finding inspiration. “I go through hundreds and hundreds of magazines for each project,” he explains. “And sometimes I can tell by the tone of the conversation with the client which magazine would be better to get the inspiration from.”
Mann has been captivating the design industry around the globe for several decades, and he doesn’t show any sign of stopping. In late 2010, Mann designed the first American boutique of the prolific French shoe designer, Pierre Hardy. Just like Mann, the intimate shoe outpost is understated yet refined. It is a minimalist’s dream, but amid Hardy’s sky-high heels, there is a sense of luxurious contentment.
In everything that Mann designs, he not only uses an initial survey of the space to bond with the place he is changing, but he also listens to the client’s aspirations and dreams.
“Frequently [the client] will tell us about this fantastic hotel or park, or that great restaurant or museum, and we use a lot of our own imagery to communicate back with them,” he says.
Mann’s own imagery includes combining his faithful magazine pages with emotions, stolen moments, or even art to convey the direction of the project. “Based on that, we step back and get all excited and involved in what the result should be,” he says. “And that’s when we really start to focus. We start doing lots of sketches and experimenting with the space and the light, the textures and the objects.”
At times, MR Architecture + Decor has a reputation for infusing its projects with a monochromatic block theme, but according to Mann, his firm does not always intentionally work that way. “Some people claim that we’re afraid of pattern, which is not exactly true, but we do tend to color block, and we tend to focus more on textures of things, rather than on the colors of things,” Mann says. “One of the reasons why this has come about is that a lot of our clients have a lot of wonderful art, and the art tends to provide a lot of color.”
This is apparent in an Upper East Side residence that Mann recently created. The home can easily be described as quirky and engaging. With a circular bed in one room and a plush blue sofa set atop carpet designed to look like the British Union Jack flag in another, the décor in this project largely came from the client. The clean and simple architectural details of the space, including the fresh neutral-colored walls, however, are purely Mann.
In the end, no matter what sort of personality one of his designs takes on, it is clear that Mann knows and loves what he is doing.
“What I believe is that we have a great deal of experience and taste, and we’re good at what we do,” Mann says, describing his design studio. “Our experience is such an intimate one with our clients. Our lives with them just don’t end when the project is over.”