Category Archives: Magazine

Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Elisa Baran

Designer and founder of Elisa Baran LLC, Elisa Baran truly has a unique style, citing brutalism & wabi-sabi as some of her main aesthetic influences. The NYC-based designer has clients from coast to coast and takes on only a select few projects each year because of her decision to remain exclusive and give all of her attention to the projects she chooses. Baran enjoys working with clients to come up with creative solutions for their homes and businesses that fit their everyday lives while offering timeless, comfortable design. Learn more about Elisa Baran in this week’s Designer Friday.

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Elisa Baran’s weathered Tuscan ascetic provides both texture and old world charm. The antique plastered walls warm this minimalist kitchen, while jet black saddle stools offer needed contrast to the room.

Elisa Baran’s weathered Tuscan ascetic provides both texture and old world charm. The antique plastered walls warm this minimalist kitchen, while jet black saddle stools offer needed contrast to the room.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Elisa Baran: Brutalism meets warmth. Picture an empty warehouse with steel windows and doors filled with 19th-century antiques, crisp, clean but cozy furniture, and a wood-burning fireplace.

AJ: If you could live in any home in a movie or television series, what would it be?
EB: Off the top of my head, the first homes that come to mind are Meryl Streep’s home in It’s Complicated or Ina Garten’s backyard in her herb garden on The Barefoot Contessa. Probably because both of these involve cooking food for the family. There is a sense of happiness and life-living that makes me want to jump into the screen and be a part of it. They are both also pristine and look so timeless and cozy.

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The beige linen Roman shades let just enough light in to give this room a dramatic feel, while the upholstered bench covered in pillows make this corner feel cozy and inviting.

The beige linen Roman shades let just enough light in to give this room a dramatic feel, while the upholstered bench covered in pillows make this corner feel cozy and inviting.

AJ: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
EB: Super speed. I do things very quickly but thoughtfully.

AJ: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be a ….?
EB: Archaeologist.

AJ: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
EB: I’m an excellent football thrower and super athletic.

AJ: What’s something you always travel with?
EB: My tape measurer.

AJ: Style (or design) icon?
EB: Pernille Teisbaek.

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A minimalist but refined dining room. See more of this Long Island home here.

A minimalist but refined dining room. See more of this Long Island home here.

AJ: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
EB: Zendaya. I feel like she just gets it and seems extremely decisive.

AJ: How do you define beauty?
EB: Patience. With patience, you have time and aging. Time for things to live and breathe and go through the many obstacles of life, whether it be people or things. There is so much beauty in patience, especially in a world where there is so very little of it.

AJ: What do you find yourself daydreaming about most these days?
EB: Getting away with my fiancé to Italy and walking in the sun, meeting locals, and hearing their life stories, where they live and enjoying their home-cooked meals with a bottle of red. It’s all-consuming at the moment because it’s so very close! Our honeymoon is in early July in Puglia.

Photography by Jared Kuzia.


blankAbout the Designer | Elisa Baran, LLC is a full-service commercial and residential interior design studio. NYC-based but domestically available throughout the United States, Elisa Baran, LLC bounces from coast to coast serving our clients what they deserve: a place to de-stress & enjoy life. Their firm specializes in custom furniture, sourcing one-of-a-kind objects and mixing high & low pieces to create an atmosphere that clientele can consume forever. A combination of brutalism & wabi-sabi aesthetics, mixed with a cozy environment, is the best way to describe the firm’s design style. EB’s design method incorporates this mixture while seamlessly blending in and enhancing their clients’ unique tastes. Taking on only a select amount of projects per year, Elisa Baran,LLC enjoys working with clients to come up with creative solutions for their homes and businesses that fit their everyday lives, all while having fun during this process. No project is too big or too small. Elisa Baran’s spaces offer timelessness, comfortability, and brutally honest simplicity.

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Love Builds: Inside The 2022 Ronald McDonald Showhouse

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Since the first Ronald McDonald House launched in 1974, its mission has been to keep families close to their children while they receive the essential care they so desperately need. Today, Ronald McDonald House Charities operate more than 350 facilities, but the accommodations can be very utilitarian. That’s where Designing Hope came in.

Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley partnered with the American Society of Interior Designers NY Metro (ASID) and aspire design and home to revitalize this home-away-from-home. With the support of generous sponsors and suppliers, designers refreshed all 12 of the guest rooms as well as the common spaces—to create an atmosphere of hope for families coping with crisis.

The emotional nature of the project clearly touched the designers, who spoke passionately about their motivations. “Nobody ever wants to be here,” says Suzanne Goldberg. “But maybe it does something to uplift just a little bit.”

“I wanted it to feel like somewhere they can recuperate and focus on making sure their children get better,” said Tammy Bolden. And Barbara Ostrom was motivated by “knowing that this is where people have their children next door, some of them dying. All it did was reflect the unhappiness.”

Kim Radovich, who has done several Ronald McDonald Houses, says it’s infinitely rewarding. “You have to do this because it brings hope and makes people feel better.” Thanks to these designers, the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Hudson Valley is once again the “house that love built.”

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RACHEL LAXER of Rachel Laxer Interiors was inspired by this Cole & Son wallcovering; its name, Singita, means “place of miracles.”

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VANESSA DELEON of Vanessa DeLeon Associates sought to inspire happiness with choices including a wall of bunnies by Hunt Slonem for Kravet and a fully equipped desk area to encourage creative play.

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BARBARA LEWIS of Lewis Design Group summoned an “enchanted enclave” with a cool palette, reflected in whimsical walls from Thibaut.

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MELISSA ANDERSON of OAD Interiors brought a sense of brightness to her guest room with choices such as a subtle pairing of Sherwin-Williams Ethereal White with a sophisticated white-on- white wallcovering from York, versatile light sources from Hudson Valley Lighting, and window treatments from The Shade Store that still invite the light.

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BARBARA OSTROM of Barbara Ostrom Associates was eager to trade her room’s previous color scheme of browns and beiges for a friendly palette that embraces color—such as the vibrant blue of the Thibaut wallcovering, a beautiful carpet by Ashley Stark, and a host of furniture pieces by Serena and Lily, including these oversize headboards.

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ELISSA GRAYER of Elissa Grayer Interior Design took on a laundry list of spaces at the Ronald McDonald House—transforming the lobby with custom cabinetry from California Closets and smart Currey & Co. pendants—in addition to tackling the family pantry, hallway, and lobby bathroom, as well as this welcoming vestibule with requested storage and inviting accessories.

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SUZANNE GOLDBERG of SBG Design switched themes from “calm” to “happy,” ultimately filling walls with color and bedecking the window with butterflies.

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BARBARA BELL of Barbara Bell Interiors created comfort—not to mention plentiful seating—in this creamy common area, while also tackling a guest room.

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CHARLES PAVARINI III of Pavarini Design and Randall Tarasuk of Peter Dinatale and Associates crafted a celestial space to help heal through chromotherapy, aromatherapy, and more.

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KIM RADOVICH of Kim Radovich Interiors designed this meeting room, featuring a media console from Benmar and a beautiful white conference table from Arnold Collective. She commissioned children—aged four to 11 years old—to create the colorful artwork, meant to help make families happy even when having difficult conversations about challenging times.

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TAMMY BOLDEN of Bold Interior Designs created a midcentury modern interpretation of A Secret Garden—filling it with flourishing florals including this wallcovering from York.

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DIANE DUROCHER of Diane Durocher Interiors sought to remind visitors to this suite that life is a journey we do not travel alone. Keeping in mind that the room would see many occupants, she created opportunities for each family to personalize the space, such as a wall where they can create messages with magnetic letters.

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CHRISTINE ORTIZ of Oh! Designs Interiors offers this vignette from her design for the first-floor family corridor, which also included Stanton Carpets and pieces from West Elm.

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ALEXIS HUGHES of Alexis Hughes & Co offers the feel of camping out with Woods & Stars paper from Cole & Son; the verticals continued in striped sheer curtains from The Shade Store.

Photography by Alan Barry.

aspire design and home would like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the sponsors of this year’s Ronald McDonald Showhouse: Carpet Trends, California Closets, Fabricut, Fiber-Seal Northeast, Gurri Stone Fabrication, Allen Carpet & Flooring, Carpet Tiles, Fenway Floors, Circa Lighting, Hudson Valley Lighting, Laurent Lighting, Currey & Company, Sherwin-Williams, Best Plumbing & Stone, Kohler, Lapitec, Luxury Vinyl Tile, York Wallcoverings, and Stanton.

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Boulder-Like Cabins By Hello Wood Make Guests At One With Nature

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Tackling a demand for tourism development in rural, peripheral areas of Hungary, Hello Wood has created unique “Rock” houses in Csóromfölde. Hidden in the grove, 6 unique cabins and a reception building were designed and built by the architecture firm and are operated by TreeHouses, creators of the widely popular cabins in Noszvaj.

Surrounded by rolling hills and close to Kapolcs, flocks of a nearby farmstead had been feeding in Csóromfölde for centuries. The programme of Hello Wood has breathed new life into the old settlement: even a temporary village was constructed by architecture students, within the framework of the firm’s international summer camps. Later, the studio sought a new function with the aim of contributing to the revitalisation of the area: it has launched a development programme that respects and values the tranquillity and natural environment of the surrounding villages, but at the same time revives a region that only comes to life from time to time, in the summer season.

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“Over the years, we have grown very fond of the area where we had held our camps,” says András Huszár, co-founder and CEO of Hello Wood. “It was clear, though, that once the summer festivals were over, Csóromfölde and the surrounding villages were abandoned for most of the year. From now on, we are going to be able to provide work for locals not only at the construction site but, through the operative tasks, throughout the whole year.”

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The Hello Wood design team has created buildings that reverberate the magic of the age-old settlement surrounded by farmland and blend seamlessly with nature. The monolithic character of the cabins that evokes giant runestones is enhanced by the building masses opening only at the terrace and the entrance: the homogeneous, sculptural form is not interrupted by any windows, doors, or staircases. Irregular planes and vertices define a shape resembling a polished stone, which is made even more distinctive by the panelling, its unique shade and its metallic sheen. Contrasting the grey shell, the golden brown of the terrace and interior is revealed like the inside of a cracked geode.

The Rocks provide a comfortable and cosy space for two, offering a living room with a bed, kitchen furniture, a built-in wardrobe and dining table, a bathroom with a double shower and a panoramic infrared sauna. To give it a spa touch, a large hot tub is built into the spacious, covered terrace, which is separated only by a glass window from the sauna that has direct access to the shower. To ensure an intimate and carefree experience, the cabins are positioned facing away from each other, looking at the surrounding fields and rolling hills. Guests can enjoy the panoramic views from the terrace – even from the hot tub or the glass-walled sauna as well as from the bed.

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The Rock cabins have a clean, block-like shape that follows organically from the environment while sustaining complex architectural solutions. When designing the structure, the aim was to prefabricate as many elements as possible – including its lattice girder, which was assembled off-site and then positioned by crane after delivery. The polygonal, three-dimensional shape required innovative solutions to ensure that the irregular sides precisely fit together and that all structural elements stay hidden under the cladding of the roof and wall, made of the very same material – creating a compact overall effect.

Hello Wood believes that its Rocks can become an architectural landmark capable of attracting visitors to the Kapolcs area in all seasons.

Photography by Lakos Mate.

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Firehouse Party: Inside The 2022 Kaleidoscope Project Showhouse

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Much as a kaleidoscope can allow people to see the world in colorfully complex new ways, the Kaleidoscope Project is helping the design community find new ways to appreciate the contributions of BIPOC designers. Hospitality and commercial designer Amy Lynn founded the institution less than two years ago. “It’s important because our design industry—which is supposed to be all about color—was not inclusive or diverse,” she says. One area where she saw a distinct lack of inclusivity is among showhouses; so, she decided to create some. For their 2022 Firehouse Showhouse, she teamed with developer David Carver to revitalize a firehouse from 1906. Then, she invited BIPOC designers from Gray Space Interiors, the Austin Gray Design Group, Everick Brown Design, and Toledo Geller Interiors to unleash their imaginations—with each team taking a unit behind the classic firehouse façade.

The project would prove tricky as the firehouse is one of the oldest in Western Massachusetts. As an added challenge, the goal was to make the units available as affordable housing after the showhouse tours were completed in September. But both the organizers and designers persevered—and the irrepressible designer David Santiago helped document the project. Ultimately, Lynn says that the effort is worthwhile for both the BIPOC designers and the design community as a whole. “As an industry, if we were going to be at our best and show off our best, then we have to show off everybody,” she explains. “And that’s why the Kaleidoscope Project was founded: to let other voices be heard.”

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GRAY SPACE INTERIORS
Rasheeda Gray’s rooms have camera-ready polish. The bedroom shines in lush gold and green, while a dazzling geometric wallcovering is an explosion of sprightly green, pink and orange. Comfortable-yet-elegant furnishings round out the picture.

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AUSTIN GRAY DESIGN GROUP
Denise Gordon and Tanya Lewis joined forces with fellow designer Marilyn LaVergne for this transformation. Their statement art pops powerfully—on its own in the bath or in the living room among furniture upholstered in fabrics that beg to be touched. Meanwhile, a carefully curated collection of books and accessories lends an air of thoughtful sophistication.

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EVERICK BROWN DESIGN
Lisa and Everick Brown are a husband-and-wife team, in which she tends to lean toward the business end while he keeps his eye on design. In this elegantly appointed suite, the ultra-restrained palette of blacks, whites and neutrals soothe the eye. But they also take some big swings, with bold art in the bedroom and a delightful chandelier gracing the dining area.

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VIRGINIA TOLEDO
Toledo traces the inspiration for her unit back to the firemen who originally worked there. But starting with a heady concept does not stop Toledo from delivering fun and feisty designs—from a symphony of pinks and browns in this dramatic bedroom to the peppy print spicing up the walls of the bathroom. The vibe manages to feel fresh even as it incorporates throwbacks to beloved midcentury modern themes.

Photography by Tim Cree.

aspire design and home would like to extend a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the sponsors of this year’s Kaleidoscope Project Showhouse: Fisher and Paykel, Fiber-Seal Northeast, Sherrill Furniture, Universal Furniture, Arhaus, Circa Lighting, Currey & Company, Benjamin Moore, Neolith, Cosentino, Crossville, and The Shade Store.

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SAW Dramatically Reconfigures A Hillside Home To Blur Interior With Exterior

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San Francisco-based Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW) has completed the transformative architectural and landscape design of a 1962 home in Mill Valley for a couple and their two young children. The project, known as The Middle Half, dramatically reconfigures the home’s core to create an open, light-flooded interior and direct connection to the landscape. Raw, textured materials like galvanized steel, rough-sawn cedar siding, and cast-in-place concrete define the project and accentuate its unexpected, layered geometries.

“Often when thinking about preserving a thing—a structure, an object, a landscape, a city—one talks about preserving its ‘heart’ or its ‘core,’” says SAW co-principal Dan Spiegel. “But in this case, it was the opposite—we were trying to preserve the periphery, while completely reimagining the core.”

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The original 2,746-square-foot midcentury home featured a segmented layout of small rooms and a highly congested core. While the homeowners were fond of its modest horizontal facade and straightforward approach to materials, they recognized the effects of aging and organizational flaws, which bifurcated family living patterns and severed the interior from the site’s views. SAW’s design enlarges the home to 3,457 square feet, unlocks its layout to create an open-plan central living space, and enhances its connection to the dramatic vistas. Throughout the home’s interior, fixtures and finishes were designed collaboratively by SAW and one of the homeowners, Kina Ingersoll, an interior designer. Ingersoll also selected all of the furniture.

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The design is defined by a sense of expansion as one moves from the front of the house, which is one level along the street, to the back of the house, which carves down to two levels and faces a steep, lush valley. “It’s meant to be perceived as a building that is both low and extremely high,” says Spiegel.

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While the entire home is an exercise in blurring distinctions between interior and exterior, this reaches its fullest expression at the rear. The kitchen-dining zone spills without interruption into living and family rooms bordered by floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors that open to the suspended upper deck, implying layered continuity. The sensation is enhanced by interior ceiling beams that extend into outdoor space, forming a slatted trellis over the back deck. “The steel frame is continuous, defining the space of inhabitation across thresholds,” says Spiegel. “It carves volume out of the air, claiming territory even on the exterior, even without enclosure.”

Photography by Mikiko Kikuyama.

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Tour The 2022 Holiday House NYC

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Holiday House NYC makes a triumphant in-person return as 18 talented designers transform two penthouse apartments on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Co-chaired by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Thom Filicia, Amy Lau and Jean Shafiroff, the event will raise critical funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

“After two years without a Designer Showhouse due to the pandemic, we are so excited to be back and better than ever,” writes founder and creative director Iris Dankner. “We want to extend huge thanks to our loyal supporters for sticking with us over the last couple of years and we can’t wait to be reunited again this fall to enjoy the best of interior design and most importantly to work towards our mutual goal of living in a world without breast cancer.”

Take a look at the beautifully designed spaces below, and see the showhouse in person now through December 11.

Sponsors for the event include Nash Stone Group, M. Daddio, Inc. Builders, Exequor Wellness, Fabricut, Phillip Jeffries, New York’s Little Elves, Roche Bobois, Rachel T. Hicks, Kirsch, Benjamin Moore, Ann Gish, Parete, Top Hat Home Services, Tito’s Vodka, Royal Botania, Modernist Cuisine, FJ Hakimian, Lily Pond Services, Studio Greytak, Neil Kerman Gallery, Frette, Stark Carpet, AJ Madison and John Lyle.

This event is presented by Extell and CL Investment Group.
Photography by Alan Barry.

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Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Michael Gilbride

Hudson Valley-based interior designer and founder of his own eponymous design firm, Michael Gilbride has lived a colorful life. While he was born in the states, Gilbride spent much of his childhood in Latin America living in Brazil, Peru, El Salvador and Colombia. He credits this time spent in his formative years as one of the main inspirations for his work. After completing his education in Interior Architecture at Parsons, Gilbride became the Executive Director of Fashion and Luxury at the New York Times, a position he left at the start of the pandemic to start his design studio which now boasts growth even in its second year. Learn more about Michael Gilbride in this week’s Designer Friday.

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Black and white contrast is the focal point of this modern living room. A light blue sofa and red patterned bench in front of the fireplace, as well as the mixed materials and textures throughout break up the stark coloration. Photography by Paul Maklary.

Black and white contrast is the focal point of this modern living room. A light blue sofa and red patterned bench in front of the fireplace, as well as the mixed materials and textures throughout break up the stark coloration. Photography by Paul Maklary.

Andrew Joseph: Has your mindset changed since 2020? In what ways?
Michael Gilbride: The pandemic put a lot into perspective for me. I’d always had a passion for design, built my own furniture, designed and sold homes, but the pandemic showed me that my “career ladder” I was climbing, while successfully, was on the wrong wall. I left a career and team I adored, took an intensive two-year program in one at Parsons, and began my design business; I’ve never been happier.

AJ: Has there been a shift in what clients are requesting post-covid?
MG: I’m noticing two trends from both my clients and form conversations with other designers:

  • Investing into homes by adding square footage: reclaiming basements, finishing attics, adding bathrooms, creating outdoor entertaining/cooking space, etc.
  • Investing in yourself by taking rarely used formal spaces and guest bedrooms and putting that square footage to work to support an interest taken up during the pandemic.
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This bright bathroom is centered by the large peach and green artwork. The black marble counter and black fluted wall treatment are contrasted by the light wood finish of the attached cabinet.

This bright bathroom is centered by the large peach and green artwork. The black marble counter and black fluted wall treatment are contrasted by the light wood finish of the attached cabinet.

AJ: Do you get your eight hours a night? – what is your schedule like?
MG: As I get older I find I have to stick to a pretty consistent routine, with a good 7-8 hours of sleep being key. When I get up, I make sure I’m up to speed on any news world, local, personal, or business that developed overnight. Once I get through the morning routine and urgent overnight emails, I’m off to the gym to get my heartbeat up.

That out of the way, I can dive into some deep focus work with short breaks to eat. Around 2 or 3, I’ll take an hour break with no screens to go for a walk or hop on my Peloton. That break is key to clear my head, step away from trees in the forest, and get reenergized.

Around 7 I try to step away again to cook for my partner or meet up with some friends. If I have any lingering ideas or inspirations rattling around in my brain before I go to sleep, I put them into a project management system I designed so I can get to it in the morning.

AJ: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
MG: Augmented reality is going to play a larger role in the design process with clients. Until recently, it’s been incredibly expensive to scan objects and spaces. With the arrival of true 5G connectivity and the familiarity, clients have with technologies like Matterport, it’s only a matter of time before we can scan and “design” spaces in real time. It’s not even that far away, iPhones will have the technology to scan spaces in the next year, the applications for our business will only begin from there.

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This sleek, modern apartment kitchen plays with dark and light tones throughout the room, with jet back, matte cabinetry and light wood finishes. Photography by Paul Maklary.

This sleek, modern apartment kitchen plays with dark and light tones throughout the room, with jet back, matte cabinetry and light wood finishes. Photography by Paul Maklary.

AJ: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
MG: I’d love to design a hotel, restaurant, and resort in Costa Rica. It’s a breathtaking country abundant in incredible food. I may be biased since I grew up in Latin America, but go and prove me wrong.

AJ: What would you like to be remembered for?
MG: That slightly inappropriate joke I whispered to you at the dinner party.

AJ: What are some of the podcasts you listen to and why?
MG: I’ve been an early adopter of podcasts. In a previous life even launched a few. The most challenging podcasts to produce are interview podcasts. You need an insightful host and interesting people. My regular rotation includes: On with Kara Swisher, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, WTF with Marc Maron, and Milk Street with Chris Kimball.

AJ: What’s a new hobby/skill that you have learned recently?
MG: Quieting that inner gremlin and being an observer of my thoughts.


blankAbout the Designer | Born in the United States, Michael’s childhood was split across Latin America, immediately influenced by the bold eclectic color palettes and the integration of the outdoors into the interiors of homes. Living in Brazil, Peru, El Salvador and Columbia he received an incidental education on modern architecture, furniture design and on the refined clean-line.

Michael likes to find potential in space. His passion to live well through design emphasizes elegance and comfort, pairing sophistication with function & simplicity. He explores new methods and technologies to relaxing, refined spaces.

Prior to running the studio, Michael was the Executive Director of Fashion and Luxury at the New York Times, overseeing the global cross-functional business. He honed his communication, project management, and problem solving skills at the Times, Conde Nast, New York Magazine, and a few agile technology firms. He is driven to help his clients design the life they want, starting where they live.

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SANAYI313 Find The Warmth In Concrete For This Villa In Istanbul

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SANAYI313 co-founder and creative director Enis Karavil led the design of this seven-bedroom home, creating a liveable and pared-back, yet sophisticated space for a young couple and their growing family. The fashion atelier-turned-design studio delivers a Turkish sensibility in its projects from Europe to the United States, with each integrating distinctive furnishings from the brand’s own home product line.

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Through the use of a single material – microtopped concrete – Karavil skillfully allowed the design and art to be the primary focus against this simplistic base. The floor plan, which allows for indoor-outdoor living, provides a cocoon-like effect as natural light flows between rooms. Layered textures of leather and suede in gray, cream and black tones reinforce the masculine furniture selection and standout art pieces. In the living room, sculptures by Turkish ceramic artist Merve Kasrat rest atop a pair of custom marble coffee tables.

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Custom furniture is paired with classic designs such as Le Corbusier’s chaise lounge. The dining room features a 25313 Dry Bar from one of SANAYI313’s own product collections and Karavil accessorized the piece with ceramics from Jülide Zeynep Günce.

Upstairs, a two-toned wall and wood flooring in the primary bedroom act in striking contrast to the rest of the home. Plaster busts by British artist Kathy Dalwood rest atop custom ash-veneer side tables and in the ensuite, all surfaces are finished in microtopped concrete. The couple works from a study featuring a wall-to-wall desk and two Pierre Jeanneret office chairs, and the kid’s room maintains the elevated, Scandinavian feel present throughout the rest of the home. The adjoining bathroom features Party Wall Lamps by Moooi that bring in a playful and childish spirit to the space.

Photography by İbrahim Özbunaron.

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Celebrate Serenity in this Two Bedroom Apartment by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy

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The client of this Lower Manhattan two-bedroom apartment is a young professional and “aspired to spirituality in herself,” says Orlando Diaz-Azcuy. Designed in collaboration with Alison Koch, Diaz-Azcuy had one directive: make it calm and serene.

Diaz-Azcuy’s immediate impulse was to hand-trowel plaster onto walls throughout the apartment. “It creates the feeling of being in fog or a mist in the way it reflects light. It activates the walls with a sense of spirit and life, and you also feel the touch of the human hand,” he says.

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The décor’s palette — ivory, cream and sand – transmits purity and openness. Materials such as cerused oak and honed travertine bring an organic quality essential to zen interiors. The client’s abstract art conveys the sense of physical form perpetually morphing, receding into or arising from the greater mystery of being.

The plaster is slightly darker in the bedroom, where Orlando explains, “it’s desirable to have a more seductive coloration. Sleep is the ultimate expression of relaxation. Darker color lets you drop deeper into it.” When shades are closed, he adds, “it feels like you’re in a cloud.”

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Notes from Orlando Diaz-Azcuy on creating your own serene space:

An Empty Canvas for the Soul
Keeping things monochromatic and uncluttered is a way of simulating the purity and openness of our essential inner being. As such, it welcomes relaxation that helps us drop into our interiority and stillness. But stark whites can be cold and antiseptic, so choose warm whites and applications like Venetian plaster that give walls dimension.

The Sensuality of Touch
Serenity is a visceral experience that awakens the senses. One way to evoke it is to mix textures—the aforementioned hand-troweled plaster, honed rather than coldly polished stone, warm woods, handmade clay objects, ancient artifacts that have a patina.

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Sticking to the Essential
If you think of churches and temples, no matter how ornate they might be, they have a single focus. In Christian churches it is the cross, in Jewish temples it is the Torah ark, the prayer bell and dorje of a Buddhist temple, and so on. Similarly, objects brought into a serene living environment must be thoughtfully selected; each must feel perfect and natural to the space in which it lives.

Patina, Patina, Patina
Bright, shiny things can disturb the serenity of a space. Decorative items with patina, on the other hand, fit perfectly in warmly modern apartments because they emit a sense of antiquity and agelessness. They carry a quality of the eternal, which connects them to the wisdom of ancient cultures.

See more of Orlando Diaz-Azcuy’s work in his second monograph SOUL, authored by Jorge S. Arango and published by Rizzoli.

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An American Icon is Restored to Its Former Glory

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The highly anticipated Canoe Place Inn & Cottages opened its doors last week, signifying a return to glory after sitting vacant for nearly two decades. Situated on the site of America’s oldest inn, for hundreds of years Canoe Place in Hampton Bays was referred to as “The First Stop Out East.” Now, the iconic inn historically frequented by starlets, socialites, politicians and presidents alike, will once again, revitalize the beloved hamlet in the Town of Southampton.

Set on six manicured acres adjacent to the Shinnecock Canal, accommodations at the restored Canoe Place include 13 guest rooms, seven luxurious suites and five guest cottages. The boutique-style inn also features a regionally inspired, chef-driven restaurant and bar with indoor and al fresco dining, a pool, spa and destination-worthy events spaces. Just across the canal are 37 residential style Canoe Place Boathouses, serviced by luxury membership club, Inspirato.

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Meticulously restored by established Long Island developers Mitchell and Gregg Rechler of Rechler Equity Partners, the team tapped some of the industry’s top talent for the momentous undertaking, partnering with independent hospitality management firm, Main Street Hospitality to bring Canoe Place to life. Acclaimed design firm Workstead reimagined the interiors for the new build while James Gersten and his firm Silver Street Hospitality conceptualized and will oversee the food & beverage program.

“Since we began on this restoration journey back in 2005, it has been our priority to not only honor the history of these grounds but to bring something special back to the Hampton Bays community,” says Mitchell Rechler of Rechler Equity Partners. “Whether creating hospitality education programs with Hampton Bays School District or simply offering a place to gather for life’s moments, big and small, we are honored to bring Canoe Place back as an intrinsic thread in the fabric of the community and a portal of discovery for travelers and new guests.”

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At Canoe Place, the grandeur of a bygone era meets the understated comfort of a classic Hamptons residence. Workstead selected the vintage-inspired scalloped motifs, botanical and trellis-patterned wallpapers, clawfoot bathtubs and meadow-like carpets complement hunter green and white striped awnings on private balconies and original wood burning fireplaces to create the ultimate, “garden by the sea” Hampton’s retreat.
In-room bathroom amenities by sustainable beauty line Costa Brazil mark the brand’s first hotel partnership. Guests will also appreciate thoughtful touches such as the cozy Alicia Adams alpaca signature throws at the end of each bed, phone charging pads on the nightstand and locally sourced wines and spirits in the beautifully appointed mini-bar.

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Perched on a hillside above the inn along winding pathways are one- to four-bedroom guest cottages, each equipped with a private backyard, grill and fire pit, outdoor shower and wrap-around front porch creating the allure of an exclusive neighborhood but with the conveniences and luxuries of the Inn.

Canoe Place’s formidable art collection, personally curated by Mitchell and Gregg Rechler, adds a fantastical touch, showcasing the work of local and internationally renowned artists, including Doug Aiken, Yoan Capote and Tony Tasset. Known for his representations of Native American traditions contextualized within history, a Jeffrey Gibson painting prominently positioned in the lobby pays homage to the Shinnecock people who first inhabited the area.

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The property’s restaurant, Good Ground Tavern, helmed by Relais & Château veteran Chef Ülfet Ralph brings creative, Mediterranean-infused takes on classic cuisine, centered around open fire cooking, house-made pastas and pizzas, and craft cocktails. The comfortable, modern tavern will offer 100 cozy indoor seats between the Tavern bar and charming wood-paneled, China-lined Bottle Room and an additional 120 al fresco seats at the outdoor ‘garden by the sea’ terrace and bar filled with lush greenery and climbing trellis.

Click here for booking information.

Photography by Matthew Williams.

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