Interior design is not about arranging furniture. Interior design is about manifesting comfort and pleasure in an environment sheltered from the world at large. It’s about summoning the power of the senses to communicate feelings of safety and ease. Interior design is about creating spaces in which one can live on one’s own terms.
Think about the most pleasant room you’ve ever encountered—not the most expansive or expensive, mind you, but the most serene and welcoming. Most likely when a space comes to mind, it’s a sensory experience that triggers the memory: perhaps it smelled wonderful, or carried the sound of water, or maybe the furniture was incredibly soft and accommodating, the lighting brilliant or cozily subdued. Whatever the impetus, in that moment, you felt the energy of your surroundings. That’s the power of design.
Theorists and historians have long explored the significance of experiencing a structure as a spatial composition, one that is only thoroughly grasped through a series of sensory impressions. We do our own investigation of the concept in this issue, beginning with a short profile on Josef Frank, an intriguingly alternative modernist architect and designer who firmly believed in home as vehicle for psychological comfort. We follow this with a package offering a snapshot of each of the five senses and the unique part each can play within an interior space. Li Edelkoort, a design mind charting both today’s trends and predictions for tomorrow, shares her thoughts.
Nick and Rachel Cope of Calico Wallpaper, partners in life and work, open the door to their Brooklyn apartment. The pair are rising figures in the design world, specifically for their lyrical, atmospheric wall coverings that seem to be popping up everywhere these days. The way they’ve incorporated not only their own creations but those of their friends and industry peers into a rental property is inspirational for those looking for ways to make their homes more personal and distinctive through interior design without doing irreparable harm to their security deposit.
The artistry of collecting and assembling disparate objects and materials is masterfully demonstrated in a Paris flat owned by Merci artistic director Daniel Rozensztroch. This is a person that’s made a career of following his own aesthetic impulses to create influential design statements—in retail environments, in shelter publications, and of course, in his own home. The downside of seeing the beauty in the unexpected means that you can end up with an embarrassment of riches, but Rozensztroch proves that a well-ordered interior need not be stark to feel modern.
A trio of interior designers in this issue present a trifecta of surprising solutions for vastly different challenges—Andrea Michaelson tackles a downtown Los Angeles loft for a weekend chef who loves to entertain without any fuss; Emily Knudsen Leland of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design delivers a Portland midcentury family home in need of an aesthetic pick-me-up without sacrificing its integrity; and Elaine Santos of BarlisWedlick Architects corrals two wildly divergent sides of one idiosyncratic client into a singular interior for a certified Passive House in Ancram, New York.
Outside the United States, designers Teresa Sarmiento and Nicolas Tovo worked together to incorporate cast-off materials and other architectural leftovers to create a soothing, unified family home in the middle of bustling Buenos Aires, Argentina. In Antwerp, Belgium, French architect and designer Nathalie Wolberg and her partner, Texas-born artist Tim Stokes, collaborated on an otherworldly living space and gallery that makes extraordinary use of color, light, and textiles.
We end with a quiet moment in a seaside cottage in Sagaponack, New York, where interior designer James Huniford created a deceptively simple—yet rigorously attained—area for taking meals. Long a proponent of reusing castoff objects and reimagining them as sculptural points of interest, Huniford uses a deep knowledge of historical decorative arts to transcend stylistic tropes. By refusing to adhere to formulaic interiors and eschewing the notion that only the new is worthwhile, Huniford proves himself to be a compatriot to the late Josef Frank whose unique take on modern domestic spaces can be summed up in his well-known adage, “One can use everything that can be used.”
Amanda Dameron, Editor-in-Chief
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