Desai Chia Architecture designed this minimal loft apartment for a New York-based photographer who was seeking a “serene” live-work environment. The 5,000 square foot industrial space was fully renovated to include a library/reception area, living and dining areas, a kitchen, a photo studio, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a powder room, and ample storage space.
The existing industrial building has a cast iron column structure. Desai Chia created an open flow throughout the home, taking advantage of long axial views through the space and drawing light through. The wall planes act more like sculptural screening elements while letting light and space flow around them. Concealed pocket doors provide privacy when needed.
The client asked Desai Chia to design a home that would serve as a work space and gallery for her photography while also providing spaces for entertaining with friends. A library/reception area immediately off of the entry vestibule allows her to meet with gallerists, present her work, and have her collection of research materials on hand for discussion. The reception area serves as a hinge for two distinct zones in the loft: the east zone flows directly into the ‘private’ domain of her photography studio and back to her private bedroom, while the south zone flows into the ‘public’ domain of her kitchen, dining, and living areas. A new wide plank oak wood floor connects all of these areas. The oak planks are used on the wall paneling and cabinetry, unifying the rooms with a warm texture.
The living area, kitchen, and dining area create an ensemble that is cohesive and very adaptable for a range of entertaining. Windows on two sides of the room bathe it with light. Additional folded and recessed lighting coves on the ceiling anchor the seating areas and wash them with a warm glow at night.
Desai Chia crafted raw steel, satin aluminum, solid oak, and white resin design features throughout the loft. They are designed as minimal art moments as much as they are functional elements for storage, dining and work areas. For example, the steel kitchen island has ample storage & seating areas, while maintaining a sculptural presence in the room – it serves to frame the kitchen in an artful way. The white resin work tables in the photography studio have a similar presence: they are both functional for work, yet also visually compelling. The wall planes in the photography studio are cleverly sheathed in white magnetic panels to allow the client to easily display and reposition her work.
The bathrooms were designed as an immersive chamber of light and striated stone, a soothing respite from the intensity of the city. The walls of the bathrooms are finished in waterproof resin, which provide a singular surface that is both luminous and very easy to maintain. Custom resin sinks, shower areas, and niches for toiletries were fused into the bathrooms to create a seamless and fully integrated concept.
Inspired by the art of James Turrell, Desai Chia designed several lighting strategies to enhance the architecture while giving form to the light. By cutting and folding the ceiling planes, Desai Chia was able to gently bounce light into the living areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and library. Even rooms that do not have windows feel airy and luminous. The extensive use of LED lighting allows to reduce energy costs while providing strong architectural lighting throughout the home.
all images © Paul Warchol