TRAVERTINE MARBLE TRADITIONALLY communicates prosperity, gravitas, and a somewhat alienating formality. In the expansive lobby of a Brazilian investment firm, however, architect Kiko Salomao left the travertine walls, floor, and reception desk in a creamy, unpolished state, lending a surprising warmth and earthiness to the material’s starched-and-pressed mien. This treatment mirrors the architect’s overarching strategy: loosening up the cool orthogonality of the International Style to strike a professional–but not stuffy–note. Modernism need not be cold and austere, says Salomao: “It can actually be cozy and chic.”
The minimal-rich look dovetailed with the sensibility of his thirty-something client, who had launched a boutique firm after selling an Internet company located in the very same Sao Paulo building. “He comes from a traditional family and tends to favor a classic look,” explains Salomao. But the architect, who’d masterminded the young entrepreneur’s previous office, argued for a slightly swankier vibe.
After gutting the new, 7,500-square-foot full-floor space–ripping out floors, subfloors, and ceiling and upgrading plumbing and wiring–the architect sketched out a flexible layout that would ease growing pains and accommodate fluctuations in population as client companies utilized short-term space. (Employee numbers rose from six to 20 over the course of the five-month renovation.) Salomao thus delivered three offices in one. Each of two self-contained wings comprises workstations, a private office, and a conference room. The third zone, the president’s suite, houses a corner office, a lounge, and an 18-seat boardroom, all connected by pivot doors. “He needs a huge space for pitching business plans,” says Salomao.
Although the three areas can function separately, a unifying aesthetic allows them to read as one. Neutral tones and a restrained materials palette of marble and mocha-hued Brazilian pau ferro predominate. So does an emphasis on symmetry.
“The lines throughout are very straight. I tend not to use curves in my work,” says Salomao. Save for the lobby, softened by Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chairs and illuminated circular cutouts in the ceiling, the office is a subtle paean to the grid. In the boardroom, an enormous, 13-by-15-foot unpolished marble tabletop appears to float on its aluminum pedestal base. “The office is unheated, and marble can become very cold,” says Salomao. “I used a matte finish to make it warm to the touch.” Above hangs a custom Alucobond fixture that incorporates both direct downward lighting and indirect up-lights, all adjustable for a range of effects. The unit protrudes from a 2-foot-deep niche, one of several instances where Salomao took advantage of low ceilings to create variations on the grid theme. The lounge’s track lighting, to cite another example, is arranged in concentric rectilinear troughs.
Work by Brazilian artists–including Vik Muniz and Victor Brecheret pieces from the client’s own collection–adorns spaces furnished with a mix of vintage finds and clean-lined Salomao designs. Of particular note is the president’s desk, inspired by one that the architect saw in an Italian magazine many years ago and recreated from memory. “It’s very `50s, very squared-off, with a metal base and an angled wood top,” he says. He also designed the long, low credenzas in the president’s office, internal conference rooms, and lounge. A true sign of the office’s informal character, the lounge credenza’s top flips up to reveal a minibar, at the ready to celebrate a successful pitch.
The property itself posed historical challenges, too. Because it had once been part of the venerable Livingston family’s holdings, Berry originally had a contemporary interpretation of an archetypal Hudson River villa in the back of her mind. “How to design a house on the Hudson when you have all these intimidating, varied, and, eclectic traditions to contend with?” she asked herself.
But with an architecture degree from the Cooper Union and course work at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies on her resume, she was well equipped to draw on a knowledge of architectural history and a personal predilection for modernism. “I decided on modernism but in a vocabulary that would be substantial and allow the house to blend into the landscape. Personally, I couldn’t do anything too crazy–I’m really a traditionalist,” says Berry.
Siting and materials were, needless to say, paramount. “The house had to complement but not impose itself on the landscape,” says the architect. Nevertheless, the dramatically horizontal 3,700-square-foot structure draws on a precedent more often associated with the plains of the Midwest than the bluffs of the Hudson: the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. “With his juxtaposition of natural materials and the feeling of early modernism, Wright presented the vocabulary that felt right with the site,” she explains. (Berry also attributes the horizontal thrust of the design to the influence of the New York loft where she lived for many years. The house and the loft happen to have the same square footage, too.)
Natural materials appear throughout, starting with the facade’s Delaware River bluestone and treated cedar siding. “My idea was for the house to be pretty simple, not vernacular Or pretentious,” she says. One of the few flights of fancy–if one could even call it that–is an exterior fireplace that can be enjoyed in three out of four seasons, as she and her husband spend weekends there year-round, with visits from twin sons in boarding school nearby. Not only a fashion able touch, the fireplace is in keeping with the sophisticated rendition of a rugged, outdoor aesthetic.
The interior offers the same intriguing combination of modernism tempered by a strong dose of the traditional. A spacious foyer makes the house feel larger than it really is and acts as a formal introduction to the glass-enclosed main space. Benefiting from windows on four exposures, the two-story combination living-dining room faces tall trees to the north and offers wide views of the Hudson and the Catskills to the south and west. “You can see the sun rising and the moon setting on three sides,” says Berry. She designed the sofa by the fireplace and had reproductions of Jean-Michel Frank chairs stained walnut to match the contemporary dining table by Chris Lehrecke. These sleek pieces are set off by an antique sideboard that once belonged to her grandmother. “It’s all the things I love,” says Berry, who, unsurprisingly, also loves to invite family and guests up to relax. “There’s no point in having a house only to find yourself staring out the window all alone.” No doubt that’s a very rare occurrence.
Dauphin: Ergonomic task chairs aren’t the only seating options that can benefit from netted backing. The Turkey Trot lounge and visitor chair, featuring a netted backrest, will surely add a little spring to your seat. 300 Myrtle Avenue, Boonton, NJ 07005; 800-995-6500; dauphin.com. circle 348
HBF: Barbara Barry’s Hourglass tables emphasize form as well as function. The pieces feature a curvaceous base of steel filaments and tops made from maple veneer, acrylic, or tempered glass. P.O. Box 8, Hickory, NC 28603; 828-328-2064; hbf.com. circle 349
Design Link: Thinner is definitely better with the Chip chair, featuring a super-slim plywood seat and back. Inspired by clean-lined Scandinavian design, the light and durable Chip is also stackable. 25 Kingston Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111; 800-568-2585; deslink.com. circle 350
Martin Brattrud: Gensler’s Terry Walker and Collin Burry devised the One collection, consisting of chaise (shown), chairs, sofas, glider, ottoman, benches, and tables. Bases are polished chrome, platforms wood or steel. 1224 West 132nd Street, Gardena, CA 90247; 323-770-4171; martinbrattrud.com. circle 351
Metro: The greatest dilemma for the modern office worker? How to keep track of all those projects. Metro has our MO down with M/o, a modular case-good system with such organizational aids as a “project wall” and “cubby-file” to keep things straight. 7220 Edgewater Drive, Oakland, CA 94621; 510-567-5200; metrofurniture.com. circle 352
Keilhauer: The Turn table will have you spinning for joy. Easily moved from room to room, this cute occasional table functions as a stool, too. Available in maple, walnut, and cherry, in a natural finish or a choice of six cheery paint colors. 1450 Birchmount Road, Toronto, Ontario M1P 2E3, Canada; 800-724-5665; keilhauer.com. circle 353
Mohawk Group: One person’s ivory is another’s antique white. That’s why the the color experts at Pantone have come aboard to systematize Mohawk floor coverings. Thanks to Pantone’s numerical standards, designers specifying products from Karastan Contract’s Fashion Venue collection or Durkan Commercial’s Art House, among other lines, can now choose and coordinate hues with total certainty. 500 Town Park Lane, Suite 400, Atlanta, GA 30144; 800-554-6637; mohawkgroup.com. circle 354
Davis Furniture: The curvaceous Lipse chair and beam seating, featuring a bent-plywood seat, is offered in a variety of colors and finishes. There’s an upholstered version, too. 2401 South College Drive, P.O. Box 2065, High Point, NC 27261; 877-463-2847; davisfurniture.com. circle 355
Amtico: Feel like you’ve spent a century searching for an alternative to rubber flooring? Amtico’s new Century collection of synthetic tiles ends your quest. The line comes in 12 colors and has a durable textured finish suitable for restaurants, hotels, and stores. Available in 12inch or 18-inch square tiles. 6480 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30328; 404-267-1900; amtico.com. circle 356
Brueton: This company definitely means business, recently introducing three collections: Zag (table shown), Stem, and Stilt. Designed by Stanley Jay Friedman, all bring simple, sculptural lines to office furniture. 979 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022; 212-838-1630; brueton.com. circle 357
Lees Carpet: MetaFloor II, which marries the durability of hard-surface flooring with the sound absorption and slip resistance of carpet, is the next generation of this company’s popular and versatile floor-covering line. Previously, the product came only on a black background; thanks to technological advances, MetaFloor II is available in pretty much any color you might fancy. Exposed nylon backing contributes to a surpisingly sophisticated look. 3330 West Friendly Avenue, P.O. Box 26027, Greensboro, NC 27410; 800-523-5647; leescarpet.com. circle 358
Source International: New from Jorge Pensi Design of Barcelona, Spain, the elegant, stackable Poi chair features an upholstered seat and back, in either beige or black. Also available as beam seating. 545 Hartford Turnpike, Shrewsbury, MA 01545; 800-722-0474; sourceseating.com. circle 359
Izzydesign: The Izzyseating collection’s eight lighthearted chair styles can be ordered in innumerable finishes and sizes. For those in search of a flexible Izzydesign table, however, there’s a single clear choice: Jack, a new lightweight, tilt-top, foldable version. 80 Ottawa NW, Suite 300, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; 616-458-7513; izzydesign.com. circle 360
System 100 is the thinnest demountable commercial wall system available in the United States. Inspired by European design, System 100 now surpasses it. Acme Architectural Walls developed the all steel constructed System 100 to the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship resulting in maximum aesthetics and in a minimal profile wall that can be relocated effortlessly. System 100 meets all US building code requirements, is manufactured here in the U.S.A. and can be fabricated within normal industry lead times. Call to receive our brochure on System 100 and our other innovative products.
Tobias Grau: Sophie’s, a height-adjustable suspension lamp, is distinguished by a mix of wenge and porcelain–and bold hardware. Plug Lighting, 8017 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046; 323-653-5635; pluglighting.com
Raul Carrasco: The Cliff console exhibits the elegantly fluid character of calligraphy. Shown in solid walnut. 74 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137; 305-573-7889.
Casa Domani: These leather tiles with faux whip-stitching make an incredibly handsome wall cladding or floor covering, acquiring a rich patina with wear. Artistic Tile, 79 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003; 800-260-8646; artistictile.com.
Leef: Stylishly divide and conquer the open-plan office with these colorful and curvaceous privacy screens. Available as freestanding modular units and desk-mounted ones. 63 Medulla Avenue, Toronto, Ontario MSZ 5L6, Canada; 416-236-5353; leef.ca.
Lolah: Representing different braille symbols, Dennis Lin’s cast-polymer tiles toy with text and texture. 2265 Royal Windsor Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5J 1K5, Canada; 800-909-8233; lolah.com.
Walker Zanger: Glinting and glamorous, Metallisimo stainless-steel tiles are a sterling choice for modern kitchens and bathrooms. 37 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003; 212-844-3000; walkerzanger.com.
Joel Berman Glass Studios: This company’s newest kiln-cast glass panels dazzle with dimensionality. Arrigado ripples like a windswept lake. 1-1244 Cartwright Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3R8, Canada; 888-505-4527; jbermanglass.com.
Anzea: Eco-conscious designers gravitate to Getting Green, an extensive line of environmentally sensitive–and sophisticated–textiles. Some selections are rendered in Climatex Lifecycle fibers. 2810 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, TX 76107; 817-336-2310; anzea.com.
Montis: The Malou sofa, designed by Gijs Papavoine, has a pleasantly cartoonish quality. With a rounded silhouette in playful colors, it’s very comfortable and easy to love. M2L, 215 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022; 212-832-8222; m2lcollection. com.
Collaborative. Ordinary walnut, maple, and cherry veneers become extraordinary when suspended in transparent cast rubber. 140 East 17th Street, New York, NY 10003; 212-260-9475; collaborativeny.com.
Kohler: Refined readers recognized the Purist Suite sink because it’s the ultimate in pristine design. We noticed that, too. The kid in us also likes how this wet-surface lavatory set gives us license to leave the water running. 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI 53044; 800-456-4537; kohler.com.
Rolf Benz: With hypnotically concentric circles and soft, hand-tufted virgin wool, Circolo is a real dazzler. Available in six colors and 11 standard sizes. Shoomine, 8 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116; 617-227-2021; shoomine.com.
Red Plum Jam: The husband-wife team of Alex Schaub and B. Jane produces finely crafted pieces that celebrate the beauty of materials, from African mahogany to MDF. 512-442-6824; redplumjam.com.
De Sede: For multitasking mods, the DS-152 lounger by Jane Worthington is a must-have. The chair’s metal frame can accommodate a glass tabletop and a flat-screen monitor. 2001 West Main Street, Suite 157, Stamford, CT 06902; 203-353-8114; desede.com.
Modenature: Luxuriously low Louise is just the recliner chair for lounging around. It would look equally at home in residential or hospitality settings, Interieurs, 149-151 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-343-0800.
Michaelian & Kolhberg: Designers looking for a little fun underfoot found it in a collection of striped flat-weaves in hand-spun wool. 578 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012; 212-431-9009; michaelian.com.
Marimekko: Unabashedly retro, Maija Isola’s Albatrossi, a 1965 pattern, has been reissued, Made of 100 percent cotton and available in three colorways. Textile Arts; 888-343-7285; txtlart.com.
Emily McLennan: With ethereal organdy shapes and steel supports, the Liteweights collection’s lamps strike a delicate balance between hard and soft. 701 North Third Street, Suite 101, Minneapolis, MN 55401; 612-339-7746; [email protected]
Molteni & C: Designed by Patricia Urquiola for the 2002 Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the upholstered Clip bed is built for comfort. The headboard shifts into multiple positions. Format, 50 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-941-7995.
Fantini: What a profile! It’s no surprise that minimalists embrace the simply elegant Cafe kitchen faucet. Hastings Tile & II Bagno Collection, 30 Commercial Street, Freeport, NY 11520; 800-351-0038.
Agape. The sleekness of Benedini Associati’s Woodline sink, available in natural oak or wenge-stained finish, helps to up the prestige of plywood. Moss, 146 Green Street, New York, NY 10012; 866-888-6677, mossonline.com.
Tracy Kendall Wallpaper: Elevating wastepaper to a whole new level, In the White Room is made from individually hand-stitched scraps. It’s just one of many bespoke wall coverings from this British designer. 116 Greyhound Lane, Streatham Common, London SW16 5RN, U.K.; 44-20-7640-9071; tracykendall.com.
“I love the nuts-and-bolts-ness of this floor lamp. The assembly is very straightforward, but the proportion is beautiful,” declares David Ling. According to the New York architect, this icon “could act as a contrast in tall residential spaces. It’s so sculptural, it’s sure to make a strong impression.”
Why do I love this lamp?” ponders New York designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. “Because it can be used in any interior, modern or old-world. Because you can barely see it–all you see is the light source. Because it takes up no room. And, most of all, because of its gorgeous wonderful design.”
“This is a terrific reinterpretation of the ’30s Jean-Michel Frank design,” enthuses Nestor Santa-Cruz of Skidmore, Owing & Merrill in Washington, D.C. “It goes well in residential and commercial settings, modern and traditional environments. It’s also one of the best deals for the style.”
Shamir Shah was pleased to discover easy access to quality craftsmanship–Santangelo and Santos occupy studio space in the same building. “They both have amazing versatility,” says the New York architect, who has used a number of variations on this classic hanging lamp. “It has a really nice quality of diffused light and helps anchor a table in a large space.”
Ambient, indirect, and translucent light make this lamp a favorite of architect David Ling. “The fixture becomes a sculptural spark,” he elaborates. Then there’s the added value of “providing light and eye candy at the same time.”
Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque is still wowed by this favorite from the 1960s. “I like how it’s engineered from an architectural point of view,” says the Miami designer, who finds Arco’s versatility equally arresting. “The design complements so many styles. It always makes a solo-act statement.”
Precious details drew Shamir Shah to this item. According to him, “The felt topstitching on the edge a predictable shade a little twist.”
This clamp-on lamp is perfectly proportional. “It puts out beautiful light, too,” says New York designer Laura Bohn. “We’ll buy a whole bunch and distribute them over library shelves.”
“The main thing I like is the pure A-line shape of this floor lamp. And it’s very low, just the right height for next to a chair. Most are too tall,” explains Laura Bohn. She also lauds the finish options and the streamlined, switchless design–simply twist the stem to turn the fixture on and off.
Sometimes, there’s nothing like your own. Says Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry, “I design lamps based on the philosophy that they’re vehicles for light, not decoration, so my pieces are the ultimate in simplicity.” What makes this table lamp her ongoing favorite? “It just slips in, without creating tension.”
“What can be said about this iconic piece that’s not been mentioned before?” muses London designer Bobby Pathak. “For me, it epitomizes the elegance of simplicity.”
For architect Jordan Mozer, the answer is a sinuous table lamp in his very own Chicago bedroom. This version, in resin and cold-cast aluminum, derives from one he created for a 1991 restaurant project. (The original was made of sheet copper). As Mozer puts it, “I like lamps that are organically sculptural objects in their own right.”
Sealy: The company’s contract division includes the recently redesigned Posturpedic collection with warranted Everlast fabric handles. Sealy, One Office Parkway, Trinity, NC 27370.
Dormire: Raso linens, with off-white piping in 100 percent Egyptian cotton, include a series of standard colors (white, ivory, ochre, melon, scarlet, periwinkle, sky blue, forest, and moss) as well as custom colorations.
Available in twin, full, queen, and king size sets with fitted and flat sheets and two pillowcases. Dormire, 1345 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Justice Design: The 7020 MAT GGGV ovalesque single arm lamp, shown in matte white glass with a vianne grass green uplight shade, is part of the Euro Classic line. Justice Design Group, 11244 Playa Court, Culver City, CA 90230.
Rejuvenation: Scholls Ferry, a reproduction three-light billiard room fixture, has a polished nickel finish (11 variations are available) and is offered in a 48- or 56-in. width. Rejuvenation, 2550 Northwest Nicolai Street, Portland, OR 97210.
Holly Hunt: The Coriandre floor lamp, designed by Christian Liaigre with a wood base, measures 19 3/4 in. wide and 52 1/2 in. high (with shade). Holly Hunt, 801 West Adams Street, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60607.