Whis­per­ing pine

With its sub­tle blush tone, Ra­di­ata pine ply­wood gives this Brook­lyn stu­dio a light, airy look

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words EL­LIE TEN­NANT Pho­tog­ra­phy MICHAEL VAHRENWALD

Ply­wood gives this Brook­lyn stu­dio a light, airy look


Set in a for­mer choco­late fac­tory in the Bed­ford- Stuyvesant area of Brook­lyn, New York, fash­ion de­signer Vic­to­ria Bartlett’s apart­ment has a bright, open feel, de­spite the two huge con­crete col­umns that take up no small part of the 93-square-me­tre space. That’s all thanks to Jaf­fer Kolb and Ivi Dia­man­topoulou of New York-based de­sign prac­tice New Af­fil­i­ates.

‘ When we first saw the stu­dio, it was a typ­i­cal “de­vel­oper apart­ment”, fea­tur­ing poor qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and ap­pli­ances,’ re­mem­bers Jaf­fer. ‘Pipes were boxed out, which led to a feel­ing of closed dark­ness, and there was a mez­za­nine sleep­ing area that was 2.5 me­tres tall with a one-me­tre space be­neath, so that when you opened the front door, you were con­fronted with a cave of stor­age.’ The de­sign­ers wanted a more dy­namic lay­out, so they moved the mez­za­nine floor – host to the bed­room – to a less im­pos­ing po­si­tion.


In or­der to max­imise day­light and space in the apart­ment, New Af­fil­i­ates started from scratch, re­mov­ing plas­ter­board walls, ex­pos­ing pipes and rip­ping out the ex­ist­ing kitchen, leav­ing a roomier, more open-plan de­sign. Walls and ceil­ings were painted cool white and the floor­boards were bleached. Next, they in­stalled a brand-new mez­za­nine struc­ture with dis­tinct spa­ces for sleep­ing, study­ing and stor­age. ‘The old mez­za­nine floor was a thick con­crete plate,’ says Ivi. ‘ We used a thin steel floor slab in­stead, so we gained nearly 30 cen­time­tres of space.’

This might sound like a bulky de­sign, but it ac­tu­ally en­hances the feel­ing of open­ness. ‘You can make a small apart­ment ap­pear more airy by cel­e­brat­ing vol­ume and solid­ness, as long as you punc­ture it with enough win­dows, cuts and open­ings,’ ex­plains Jaf­fer. ‘Here, that is achieved by cre­at­ing a huge cut-out in the walls be­tween the kitchen and the study be­yond.’


At the re­quest of home­owner Vic­to­ria, de­sign­ers Jaf­fer and Ivi took in­spi­ra­tion from the min­i­mal­ist artist Don­ald Judd and used ply­wood through­out the in­te­rior, both to build the mez­za­nine struc­ture and for cabinet doors in the kitchen area. The bud­get for the project was lim­ited, so at just over £20 per 1.2 x 2.4 me­tre sheet, ply­wood was a prac­ti­cal choice.

‘ We looked at dif­fer­ent kinds of ply­wood and set­tled on Ra­di­ata – a type of pine – for two rea­sons,’ says Ivi. ‘Firstly, be­cause we are averse to hav­ing too much yel­low in the scheme – it makes ev­ery­thing look a lit­tle dingy – and Ra­di­ata has a pink un­der­tone. Se­condly, be­cause it has a rich grain, al­most akin to ze­bra strip­ing, so it’s dec­o­ra­tive but with a rough­ness, and – apart from a coat of ure­thane to seal it – re­quires very lit­tle prepa­ra­tion.’ Us­ing a sin­gle key ma­te­rial works well in this small space – the ef­fect is un­clut­tered and clean. new-af­fil­i­ates.us

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