A closer take on the hottest solutions from July
Staff -- Interior Design, 7/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
1. Back to the Future
According to London designer Misha Stefan, El Floridita is where "Hemingway sipped the best daiquiris in town." The venerable red-walled Havana watering hole also embodied the 1920s deco cool that Stefan hoped to import for his snug Notting Hill club, Mauve. No purist, however, he owes a further stylistic debt to postwar American glitz. On Mauve's upstairs ceiling, six custom Sputnik fixtures are an entirely '50s Vegas fantasy—manufactured to Stefan's specifications by Dernier & Hamlyn, bespoke lighting supplier to Windsor Castle, the Savoy hotel, and Harrods. Available through Mission, his furniture gallery adjacent to Mauve, the Sputnik fixtures cast a clean, white light, thanks to integral halogen spot lamps. Brass stilettos, 10 per fixture, amplify the sense of danger and intrigue. More brass is employed for circular mounting plates and the studded collars that encircle the fixtures' slim ivory-painted metal bodies, ensuring a generous measure of sparkle when the lights are down low. "Mood Mauve," page 186. —C.K.
2. Stair Masters
Improving circulation and encouraging staff interaction are primary goals of almost any contract project. Not every designer, however, accomplishes these tasks with such panache. For the new headquarters of communications consultancy George Patterson Bates in Sydney, Australia, Whittaker Hadenham Openshaw and Mark Marin Design started by eliminating an ill-placed staircase that joined only two of the 61,000-square-foot office's seven floors. WHO and Marin then inserted a glass-enclosed LED-lit staircase through one end of five levels. "This creates a hub of activity, forcing face-to-face contact," explains Marin. (Use of the elevator is restricted.)
Seem simple? "It was quite a challenge to navigate code issues. The engineering required was extreme," says Marin. The designers suspended the stair structure from the roof and, to satisfy code, enclosed all but one landing in smoke lobbies. Independent of the stained-oak risers, a central glass plane is supported from below by a steel frame. The glass is illuminated at the edges by computer-controlled LEDs, which cycle through various color combinations. A continuous pattern of etched dots diffuses light across the surface. "Getting Down, Down Under," page 198. —J.R.
3. Box Set
"We started with the idea of light in multiples," says interior designer Carl D'Aquino, whose New York firm, D'Aquino Monaco, rebuilt and furnished the interior of an 1890 Queen Anne that was virtually destroyed in a fire. He and his partner, architect Francine Monaco, began with a basic element: a linen box suspended from four handwrought iron rods. (What at first appears to be a fifth rod in the center is actually an electrical cable—similar to bicycle brake cables—that carries power to an incandescent bulb.) D'Aquino Monaco then played with progession throughout the nine-bedroom, three-story house, the summer home of a best-selling author and her husband. "On the first floor, you have pairs or double pairs. As you go up the stairway, the double pairs become elongated," comments D'Aquino, referring to the eight linen boxes that hang from an oiled metal plate bolted to the ceiling of the second-floor landing. "The way linen filters the light of an incandescent bulb creates a nice softness," the designer continues, crediting Wiener Werkstätte cofounder Josef Hoffmann as a reference for this simple, sculptural concept. "Storybook Ending," page 204. —J.C.