Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Hometown: Germantown, NY.
Studio location: Saugerties and Brooklyn.
Describe what you make: Interiors for humanists.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: My studio, LOVEISENOUGH. It’s my most beautiful experiment as of yet. I’m trying some new things out that I don’t have a model for, but the unfolding—not the future outcome—is the objective. Even on the gritty days, I’m riveted at its evolution. No built project will ever keep adapting the way a group of people pursuing an idea does.
Describe the problem your work solves: The “problem” could be loosely outlined as a repetitive, disembodied, unimaginative, and self-referential approach to design. We try to do the opposite by self-imposing a kind of amnesia with each new project so we can begin with a truly open mind. This approach isn’t naturally lucrative, but we never want to pre-conceive projects and instead let listening, observation, and research drive us. It keeps us adaptive and unknowing in a good way.
Describe the project you are working on now: A log cabin in the woods in a small town in the Smoky range of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’re trying to make our hand on this project as invisible as possible since the building feels like an abandoned site, last touched in 1982.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: A seductive urban lair in Canada, previously touched by Phillip Johnson, Robsjohn Gibbings, and Richard Kelly. We’re working with friends Brigitte and Howard of Shim Sutcliffe, who I worked with on Ace Hotel Toronto. After several years working in commercial spaces, it’s lovely to get back to silk fibers and brick-red lacquer tables made by exquisite ateliers in Paris.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: Rare Japanese temple incense, watercolors from Choosing Keeping in London, Pat Metheny, Fugazi, and dappled sunlight.
What you do when you’re not working: My first love in life was China, and my second love was food, so my free time naturally includes chopping vegetables and listening to podcasts about the Chinese political economy. My major pastimes are walking with my dog—Sugi, a 97-pound blonde malamute—and swimming laps.
Sources of creative envy: I wish I could live at Casa Barragán or the Barbican. Deep envy there. Traveling and seeing how other people live, eat, work, and build is a massive teacher and inspiration. I’m deeply envious of people like my grandmother, who lived in a pre-plastic world and had an unadulterated experience of nature in its wholeness. I’m often envious of the incredible brains of others I know well—the writing of Emily Bernstein, the rigor of Eric Cheong, the cultural savvy of Little Wing Lee, and the fearless, weird innovative thinking of Vickie Hayward. I learn so much from my peers, their example, and their ambition.
Books line the walls of my home office and speak to our influences in the studio—research at the crossroads of Denys Lasdun, northern forests, Japanese joinery, social science, Swedish cemeteries, bathroom structures at national parks, color theory, et cetera. All these things make us very envious!
The distraction you want to eliminate: Repetition, cult of personality, the myth of “self-made.” Also the use of PVC in commercial interiors. RIP icon and visionary Robin Guenther <3
Concrete or marble? I have more than 20 samples of concrete in the studio, but only two of marble, so based on the evidence…
High-rise or townhouse? Probably high-rise. I lived alone in a very slick high-rise in Chicago in 1997. It had glass curtain walls and a view of the lake amidst a sea of gridded windows of other towers on three sides. Everything was a sort of bronze-toned vignette outwards or a dark reflection in glass or mirror of me inside. It felt like a film set at night and I loved that austerity—a single bed, a chair, a bottle of water—and the cinematic quality of my movement. I think I wore a robe a lot. It’s not for everyone or for every era, but it’s a strong sensory memory. The circumstances of the building changed my behavior. After a few months there, I moved into the top floor of a brick townhouse on far west Hubbard (also in Chicago) which was owned by the Midwest Chapter of the Meher Baba society on a block that felt like a wasteland… the building stood alone with no neighbors for many blocks and the garage housed a wood burning sauna. The landlord charted my astrology as part of my lease approval application. My domestic life in 1997 was really rich.
Remember or forget? I’m a Scorpio. For good or bad, I always remember.
Aliens or ghosts? Both completely, aesthetically, and conceptually.
Dark or light? Shadows!