In the Box
Judy Fayard -- Interior Design, 4/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Small spaces are often conduits for innovation. Take, for example, architect Leonardo Annecca's 300-square-foot multipurpose studio located in Paris's rapidly gentrifying 11th Arrondissement. His firm L.A. Design Paris New York owns the space and designed it to cater to a kind of cooperative of tenants.
Most of the time, the studio serves as the European office of Annecca's bi-continental practice and as the Paris foothold for a public relations agency based in Italy. On other occasions, though, it acts a meeting and working spot for young globe-trotting designers passing through the city—designers who sometimes need a place to crash for the night. Thus, Annecca carved out of the petite floor plan a fully functional 25-square-foot bathroom.
Dubbed the Ministudio, the one-room space occupies part of the ground floor in a courtyard building that once harbored upholstery and carpenters' workshops. The bathroom was originally a dark, musty storage closet; its only saving grace was a ceiling slightly higher than the rest of the room. "It was all blackened and dirty," recalls Annecca. "It was tough to see it as a bathroom."
The key to turning the long, narrow closet into a full bathroom was putting the shower in the middle, between the wall-mounted sink and toilet nook, a convenient solution for a shower that would be used only occasionally. "I thought it was a very modern way to do it," says Annecca. The polished-chrome Barcelona shower head is a hand-held telephone model, common in Europe; it allows the user to control the direction of the spray in the tight space. But the architect's main reason for not choosing a wall-mounted version was purely visual. "The shower needed to be as discreet as possible," he explains. "You know it's there, but you don't want to see it."
Discretion was also a factor regarding plumbing equipment, all of which Annecca hid in a touch-latch closet behind the white vitreous-porcelain Small toilet. An open square above provides storage space. More built-in storage, in the form of slender drywall shelves, is found near Frank Huster's reduced-porcelain Architec sink, which is served by chrome Step fittings. For warmth, Annecca installed a heated towel rack.
Although a sliding translucent acrylic door lets in ample natural light from the studio's single large window, Annecca employed various forms of illumination for the bathroom. Recessed neon tubes light the custom mirror above the sink. Two pairs of halogen spots are recessed above the door and shower. And halogen step lights serve the toilet nook.
Of all Annecca's clever interventions for the tiny loo, perhaps the most beguiling is the cladding: hundreds of 3/4-square-inch mosaic ceramic tiles. The wall and floor tiles are pale gray; the toilet nook's, in a humorous touch, are fire-engine red. The color scheme echoes that of the main room, which includes two long white MDF desks on wheels, a pair of custom red-painted radiators, a rolled-up futon mattress, DSL access, and a kitchenette. Says Annecca, "Red and white has become the logo of the Ministudio." The mantra? Sit, work, and stay—but only for a little while.