New York-based architecture studio Worrell Yeung has completed the renovation and design of a 2,200-square-foot loft in Chelsea for an art-and-design-collecting couple with small children. The project marks the first close collaboration between Worrell Yeung and Jean Lin of Colony on the curation of a home’s interiors, resulting in a unique interiors scheme that both highlights and complements the client’s textiles and contemporary art collection.
The organizing design strategy of this renovation was to maintain contiguous public living zones and extend daylight as far as it can reach by minimizing partitions and concentrating private rooms on the north side of the apartment. Occupying a half-floor of a classic early 20th-century loft building, historic elements of the building such as timber columns and beams, cast-iron capitals, and wood timber ceiling joists were left raw and exposed, particularly in the generous living area, to maintain the spirit of the New York artists’ loft. Before Worrell Yeung’s intervention, the loft had been occupied by an artist and art handler for MoMA and had not been updated in nearly 40 years.
The open public living spaces, inclusive of the kitchen, dining room, and living room, are organized by two custom dark-stained ash wood storage objects, which are treated as refined furniture pieces, while a custom hand-troweled raked plaster volume occupies the center of the apartment and contains the bathrooms and other utility spaces.
“Inspired by bush-hammered concrete walls made famous by Paul Rudolph and others, we worked with a local artisan to develop a softer, textured surface that would create an interplay of shadow and light against the more refined, elemental pieces in the apartment,” says Max Worrell, co-founder of Worrell Yeung.
A monolithic Ceppo di Gre marble kitchen island anchors the heart of the loft, extending Worrell Yeung’s interest in defining space through the addition of distinct, elemental objects. “There was a strong desire to express the island’s ‘object-ness’ by keeping it very elemental in form, yet still arranging the stone planes to invite comfortable congregation with these square stone niches that embed into the wood floor,” says Jejon Yeung, co-founder of Worrell Yeung. The language established by the kitchen island is also carried into the master bathroom shower, which is defined by dark marble volumes and obsidian-hued walls.
Reclaimed antique heart pine floors were used throughout and juxtaposed with white pigmented Ashwood closets and casework. Across the apartment, large sliding wall planes allow the spaces to be continuously opened to each other or closed off for greater privacy, while perimeter white walls elevate brightness throughout. As part of the sequence of spaces, a children’s bathroom is an unexpected moment of color with bright yellow tile creating a deliberate and graphic experience, while the powder room contains a smoky glass wall that reflects a custom Tinos Green marble vanity and historic wood column.
Worrell Yeung’s collaboration with Jean Lin of Colony, a New York-based design gallery and curatorial practice, inspired the loft’s interior scheme, which joins angular, articulated furniture and jewel-toned, subtly patterned upholstery, fixtures, and objects. Both firms describe the relationship as uniquely synergistic and smooth, with Worrell Yeung establishing the initial concept and Lin working intimately with the architects to articulate the home’s details through the entire design process. “The way we approach interiors, because we are not a traditional interior design studio, we are able to be more collaborative. It was really nice to have Max and Jejon set the groundwork with their intention,” says Lin. “Interior designers often come on late in the design process, and sometimes aren’t necessarily aligned with our own aesthetic intentions, so this was great and a true collaboration,” seconding Worrell.
Conceived with people, place, and purpose in front of mind, the loft’s interior design simultaneously reflects the architectural design of the space, the family it was built for, and the everyday interactions of the two. Precise architectural elements give the loft an airy, open feel throughout, while unassumingly creating privacy where needed.
The interior colors, materials, and furnishings mirror this sentiment. In the living room, earthen jewel tones are anchored by a neutral base palette, and richly textured with antique Peruvian textiles from the client’s collection and saturated velvets. A low-slung velvet maroon sectional by Cassina is the visual center, surrounded by antique Morroccan rugs and framed with Noguchi Akari pendants overhead. Broken geometries within the furniture and floor plan complement the strong architectural lines created by Worrell Yeung, while emerging American designers Vonnegut/Kraft’s lacquered black Releve dining table, juxtaposes the hand raked plaster architectural object behind it.
The client’s fine art collection, which features bold abstractions and arresting figurative paintings and drawings by artists such as Paula Rego and William Kentridge, accents these features. “The design and overall material experience of the home very much reflects the client’s playfulness and complements their eclectic art collection,” Worrell says.