Ever since I was young I had romantic aspirations of growing up to live in the quintessential New York loft of my own -- old wooden plank flooring, soaring ceilings, a painter-husband, and huge windows with great views. As an adult, my dreams have somewhat come true, as much as they can for somebody whom is not a millionaire living downtown. I live in an old Brooklyn factory building, my husband is a painter, and while the floorboards are so rustic and old you could practically lose a foot between some of them, the view out the windows is straight into some of the most unsightly architecture in the borough (as far as the AIA guide is concerned). However, as an artist, professor, and mom with a crazy schedule, a live/work loft is simply the only way to go.
I became interested in how people turn these raw spaces into their own and how they are used; how the spaces were divided up or left open or not changed at all. It takes a certain personality to have it 'all out in the open,' and I found that the people in my building in South Brooklyn (an old luggage factory)reflected a realness and variety that was dynamic visually.
For this shoot I chose to focus on two lofts: Allison and Michael, an architect and painter/ theologist, and Patrick and Jennifer, an artist/craftsmen/ stagehand and painter/ street artist, respectively.
Allison has lived in the building for 12 years, Michael for eight. Allison is an architect of over 15 years, and currently is with Ennead Architects after working with several award-winning firms. Michael has painted for his entire life, and has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. He recently has returned from painting murals in Dubai and Kuwait.
About their living space, Allison says:
Since it's a rental apartment we kept our interventions to a minimum. We built walls to create a studio for Michael, but left all other areas open. Our apartment has 14-foot ceilings and gets an insane amount of light through 10 south and east facing windows, so the only thing I wanted to do was create a few different areas but maintain the wide open feel to the apartment. I used large pieces of furniture to define the various spaces and to match the scale of the space: an '80s chrome 'cube' poster bed, a mid-century Danish teak couch, a mid-century sideboard with shelves, and a large walnut dining table that was made by a friend and bought the chrome and leather tubular chairs from a stoop sale. We lucked out and got our mint green vintage styled refrigerator from someone in the building who was moving out. It's Northstar made by Elmira Stove Works. I like to display interesting or whimsical objects from our travels, such as a Mao bust, and ceramics from Central America. We also have lots and lots of books and they have become a design element in themselves. We have stacks of them all over the place. The overall result is a home that is warm and comfortable, yet open and modern -- which also describes me.
And Michael says:
My living space reflects my life philosophy in that it is big enough to evolve as I do. There is also a lot of light, something I also search for in philosophy. No light, no knowledge. No knowledge, no hope. So: lots of windows and lamps and candles. Books are everywhere, for they are a form of light too. Someday I want a room, a big room, with book shelves on every wall, from floor to ceiling.
We have picked up a lot of things in our lives from places we have been and we have also each collected a lot of art from friends and artists we admire. In our space we try to showcase that collection and display our possessions in a way that doesn't feel cluttered and allows for a free flowing living space. With the high ceilings it makes it possible to hang art high up and hang more of it. I guess we try to make it feel like we don't have a lot of stuff although we really do if you look around, its always a work in progress and an installation in its own right.
Enjoy these unique places, and I look forward to sharing more of this exploration in a few months. -- JD
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