Tag Archives: architects

These Houses Are Designed In The Shape Of Famous Logos

Architects never seize to surprise us with their intricate and innovative designs. Some showcase their ingenuity by creating unique functionalities in the houses they design, others demonstrate never-seen-before exteriors. Recently, architect Karina Wiciak of Wamhouse studio demonstrated unusual house designs after finding inspiration in an unexpected place — logos of famous brands. Logos, usually being simplistic yet novel, turned out to be the perfect reference to outstanding architecture.

More info:

Image credits: Wamhouse

The architect’s project containing some of the well-known logos comprises the trihouse, crosshouse, rhombhouse and pyrahouse. The created designs give a brand new look to the symbols that represent the brands.

Image credits: Wamhouse

One of the houses, called trihouse takes a form of triangle and resembles the Adidas logo. The design of the house is completed with three oblique concrete walls separated by large glass panels.

Image credits: Wamhouse

Image credits: Wamhouse

The second house of the project is called crosshouse. This house takes the shape that resembles a cross and has a huge main facade made out of glass.

Image credits: Wamhouse

Continue reading These Houses Are Designed In The Shape Of Famous Logos


People On The Internet Are Comparing This Badass Fire Station In Northern Italy To A Villain Hideout

Recently, this fire station in the northern part of Italy went viral. Despite having been built a decade ago, it started gaining more and more attention after one person on Reddit compared it to a villain hideout. We must admit, though, it does look sort of villainy. But it wasn’t built inside a cave just for the sake of Bond movie aesthetics. As the farmable land in the Alps is scarce and the restrictions on non-traditional architecture are rigid, the architects have come up with an ingenious solution.

More info: Bergmeisterwolf Architekten

People on social media are saying that this fire station in Northern Italy looks like “a villain hideout”

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

In fact, this aesthetically-pleasing fire station in a small Italian town was built to save the land. In this alpine area, the land is especially scarce, so the local community decided that it would be best for the station to be built in a mountain, or a 300-foot cliff of sheer rock, to be more precise.

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

It was built back in 2010

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

To carry out the project, the people of the small town of Margreid hired Bergmeisterwolf, a Northern Italian architecture firm with offices in Italy and Austria.

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

The project’s design was carried out by a firm called Bergmeisterwolf

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

The architects began by blasting three caverns into the cliff and connected them with crisscrossing tunnels. Two of the former became the garages, while the third one acts as the administrative part of the fire station.

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

It is built in a 300-foot cliff of sheer rock

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

Not only does the design of the building look striking, but it is also very ergonomic as the mountain provides natural insulation for the building. The temperature in the groundmass averages around 55 degrees when the outside temperature is about 14F. Only one of the three caverns had to be insulated manually.

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

The ingenious and novel design of the building has earned its architects four architecture awards

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

Inside the building, the architects built a curving concrete wall connecting the three caves, to protect the firefighters from falling rocks. The black color of the concrete was chosen to evoke the impression of burnt wood and was achieved by mixing beech coal dust into the aggregate.

Image credits: Jürgen Eheim, Ullrich Egger, and Günter Richard Wett

Here’s how people joked about the appearance of the building on social media

What do you think of the building? Does it look like a supervillain’s headquarters to you? Tell us in the comments below!

Continue reading People On The Internet Are Comparing This Badass Fire Station In Northern Italy To A Villain Hideout

These Origami Lampshades Are Carefully Handcrafted With An Eco-Conscious Approach

Simply crafted with a handmade origami technique that uses high-quality paper, Orikomi lamps are a statement of love for the planet.

Orikomi brand was created in November 2013 and it’s based in the sunny Lisbon, Portugal.

Two architects, Ana Morgado and Carmo Caldeira, are responsible for the development of the Orikomi products. They use the geometry of origami as inspiration, blending the paper folding art with lighting and focusing on its environmental concern.

Orikomi lampshades have a positive ecological impact due to the fact that they are handmade, have low energy consumption (promoting the use of energy-saving light bulbs) and at the end of their life cycle are completely recyclable. These products make a statement as an alternative lighting solution with low impact on the environment but with a high impact aesthetically.

The brand follows the principle that design should be economical and affordable, being paper a material that fulfills these requirements, but also, perfectionist and ambitious, especially considering the importance of lighting to guarantee spatial interior quality.

Despite its complex construction, it is extremely easy to hang and suitable to light up a variety of spaces at home.

It is an extremely versatile product, available in several models and colors, allowing innumerable possible conjugations.

At the online shop, besides the big range of plain pastel colors, you can find unique patterns that are the result of partnerships between Orikomi and other designers, which diversify the collection. Orikomi also has 3 available sizes of lampshades to match all type of rooms and needs.

More info: Etsy | orikomi

Orikomi Tropical Special Edition is perfect to keep the summer feeling

Folding process in action

Cute Pastel Colours

Orikomi Plain and Stripe

Orikomi has diferent sizes suitable for diferent rooms

Orikomi gives a zen vibe to any work space

Orikomi Studio

Always a good solution is to match two diferent lampshades

Mango juice, the smell of fresh strawberries, diving in a bright blue sea. This is the spirit behind Orikomi Summer Collection

…and because Orikomi lampshades are not only pastel and bright colours

Inspired by the wild and untamed nature, the Wildflower Collection features floral patterns

Real candy crush

Continue reading These Origami Lampshades Are Carefully Handcrafted With An Eco-Conscious Approach

What to Do When Your Clients Don’t Want Their Space Photographed

For designers an image is worth more than1,000 words, but for some clients, so is their privacy

When Your Client Doesn't Want Interior Design Photography
Illustration by Christina Zimpel

An exceptional portfolio is key to business, allowing you to pique the interest of prospective clients or submit work to a publication for consideration. For some disciplines, this practice is straightforward: Fine artists, for instance, can typically digitize and circulate their images for portfolios with ease, as they often own the rights to their work. But interior designers and architects, who work on commissions, usually need to get their client’s approval to share images of those projects. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially if the project is a private residence.

Sometimes—in fact, oftentimes—you’ll end up working with clients who refuse to have their space photographed because they want to maintain their privacy. In those cases, it’s essential to arm yourself with some techniques to handle such situations, since, as New York–based designer and illustrator Jason Grimesnotes, “You’re only as good as a photograph of your last project, especially at the Instagram-sharing pace the world has adopted.”

Here are several strategies to keep in mind when trying to convince clients to have their space photographed.

Put photography in your contract from the start.

The best way to work around a no-photography situation is to avoid it completely. Lawyer Alex Ross, a partner at Ross & Katz, PLLC,who works closely with designers, highly recommends including a clause about photographing a space—both before and after the project—in your standard contract. “This way we’re able to manage expectations from the beginning, so the client knows that photography is important,” he says. Work closely with an attorney to hammer out the details—you want to be sure you’re getting the rights you need.

Negotiate. Suggest stricter terms, such as ensuring anonymity, or offer a first right of refusal.

Even if you have a clause about photography in your contract, the client may strike it out before signing. That’s the time for negotiation. If your original wording didn’t mention anonymity, it’s a great place to start. Offer your client complete privacy, ensuring that no identifying details about the home or its owners will be shared with publications, on your website, or on social channels. Work on finding a middle ground with your client that still allows you to add photographs of your project to your portfolio.

It sounds obvious, but sometimes long discussions can change your client’s mind. Again, having a lawyer in this situation would be advantageous, as he or she could help negotiate specific rights.

Ask to photograph details only.

Say that your client is standing his or her ground during negotiations. The next tactic to try is to give in, just a tiny bit. “Aside from slowly convincing the client over the course of the project, the best solution I’ve found is to focus on the details,” says Grimes. “All of my work is super-detailed and hyper-custom, so detail photos go a long way. These cropped photos may not make a publication, but they can at least be used in my portfolio.”

Go to court.

Or at least threaten to. “I haven’t any seen any designers who actually go to court about this issue, but we’ve certainly threatened it,” says Ross. Going to court is probably more expensive than it’s worth (and will also cost you a client relationship), so it’s not always advisable to do so, but the option is there.

Work with brokers if the property goes up for sale.

If you’ve lost out on negotiations and the client simply won’t budge—and you decide not to take the matter to court—it doesn’t mean all hope is lost. If the client decides to sell the home, there’s a chance the space will be photographed to woo prospective buyers. In some instances, you can negotiate a deal with the broker to retroactively add those images to your portfolio.

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Designing with value in mind

Everyone wants to cut costs, but not at the expense of the project’s functionality.

JUNE 27, 2019 |

Architects, engineers and other design professionals strive to build strong reputations in their respected fields. To prove their competence, they must maximize their given budgets while also making sure to be efficient and detailed in their work. Everyone wants to cut costs, but not at the expense of the project’s functionality. How do you create a high-quality product that stays within budget? Two words: Value Engineering.

This time-tested process is focused on improving the value of a product by substituting low-cost options without sacrificing the quality of work. Value engineering is a win-win for all parties involved. By meeting an owner’s performance standards with money-saving solutions, design professionals deliver incredible value to their clients and boost their reputations.

We’re here to help ease the process for you. Here are six steps to value engineering:

Step 1: Identify the material makeup of a project. Ask yourself: What is this?

Step 2: Analyze the functions of those elements. Ask yourself: What does this do?

Step 3: Develop alternative solutions for delivering those functions. Ask yourself: What else could do this?

Step 4: Assess the alternative solutions. Ask yourself: Can this still deliver the experience the owner demands?

Step 5: Allocate costs to the alternative solutions. Ask yourself: How much will this cost?

Step 6: Develop the alternatives with the highest likelihood of success. Ask yourself: What will do the best job for the longest time?

A project owner’s expectations must be the highest priority when completing any project. No amount of money, work or time saved will be sufficient enough if a project owner’s needs are not fully met. There could be several different motivations for completing a project, and the design professional must have a solid understanding of these components before the project even begins. But if designers can meet the owner’s objectives while saving money, they are well on their way to building a name for themselves. For more information on Value Engineering, check out our eBook.

Rory Woolsey has worked in Management and Engineering in the construction industry for 40 years. He started as a construction laborer and superintendent and has experience in just about every construction profession from designer to estimator to project manager to field engineer and, most recently, a senior owner’s representative for many large public agencies. For 20 years he was the lead estimator and president of The Wool-Zee Company, Inc. working for architects, engineers and facility managers to accurately budget their construction projects at all stages of design. Rory has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/ Structural Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in construction project management.

Continue reading Designing with value in mind

David Baker Architects Designs Healdsburg’s Intoxicating Harmon Guest House

Redwood slats shade the transparent façade. Photography by Bruce Damonte.


The small town of Healdsburg, named after its founder Harmon Heald, might have established itself in California’s verdant Sonoma County nearly 250 years ago, but it feels perfectly in tune with the times. Surrounded by vintners such as VML Winery and Jordan Winery, the town boasts an attractive central square bordered by three-Michelin-star restaurant Single Thread, gourmet bakeries and ice cream shops, and a pair of Piazza Hospitality hotels—Hotel Healdsburg and H2Hotel—designed by David Baker Architects.

Now comes a third: the Harmon Guest House, whose 39 rooms form pods around a glassed-in central courtyard and have patios or balconies facing the town or trees. “The site is narrow,” says DBA associate Brett Randall Jones, “so we made a unique room type, with an open bathroom that guests walk through to enter the main space of the room. The ceiling height, floor-to-ceiling windows, and generous depth make the rooms feel expansive.”

Sculptor Andy Vogt created the geometric artwork at the entry out of salvaged Douglas fir. Photography by Bruce Damonte.


Read More: 7 Inspiring Hotels to Visit in 2019

Harmon Guest House’s rooms are furnished with custom pieces and mid-century classics in palettes drawn from the landscape. “The window seats in each room turned out to be the perfect cozy spot for lounging,” says associate/interiors lead Julie de Jesus. “The custom daybed and pillows, the pendant, the windows with slats, and the table and chairs work to create this perfect space within the room.”

And just in case visitors desire more perfect spaces, the town’s only public rooftop bar can be found upstairs, with intoxicating views of nearby Fitch Mountain.

Keep scrolling for more images of the project>

To the left of Pacassa Studios’ custom reception desk, Sabine Reckewell’s multimedia installation hangs above seating by GubiAnthropologie, and Carl Hansen & Son, as well as Herman Miller stools, all around a Studio Vestri table. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
To the left, the roof lounge features Andreu World sofas and poufs by The Citizenry, with Ohio Design tables; to the right, custom tables surroundKnoll side chairs and woven Kettalseating on the deck. Photography by Angie Silvy Photography.
Exterior slats filter light across the meeting room’s white oak flooring by Nor-Cal Floor Design; the chairs are by Vitra. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
In the Founder’s Suite, a Design Within Reach sleeper sofa rests upon a Peace Industryrug, before a custom table illuminated by a Rich Brilliant Willing pendant. Photography by Bruce Damonte.
A double queen room on the third floor offers a custom Kay Chesterfield Upholstery headboard in Maharam fabric, with Treko blankets. Photography by Angie Silvy Photography.
The bridge leading down to a park along Foss Creek is ipe wood and corten steel. Photography by Bruce Damonte.

Read More: Color Reigns Supreme at Teresa Sapey’s Tunnel Lounge for the Nhow Marseille

New in Brooklyn: 10 Hip Coffee Shops, Offices, Apartments, and More

With NYCxDESIGN and Brooklyn Designs at the Brooklyn Navy Yards about to get underway, we’ve rounded up the most recent projects in New York City’s buzziest borough, including warm cafés and reading rooms, fresh offices, and light-filled apartments.

1. The Center for Fiction by BKSK Architects Brings Books and Sustainability to Brooklyn

The Center for Fiction started out as the Mercantile Library in 1821 and moved locations throughout Manhattan over the years. In 2008, it was rebranded, and more than 10 years later, the Center has a permanent home in a new downtown Brooklyn building by BKSK Architects with sustainability in mind. Read more about the bookstore/library/café

2. StudiosC Creates Positive/Negative Volumes for L&R Distributors in Brooklyn

L&R distributes more cosmetics than any other American company—25 brands and 8,000 SKUs in all. Its new corporate headquarters in Brooklyn’s Industry City circulates something else: a wide variety of staff, each with their own spatial needs, within what StudiosC principal Stephen Conte calls “an industrial blank canvas.” Read more about the office

3. Gensler Fashions a New Brooklyn Showroom for Lafayette 148

Brooklyn’s Navy Yard is among the most fashionable new areas in the borough, but until Lafayette 148 decided to leave its seven-floor SoHo digs and venture across the water, there wasn’t a fashion brand that called the historic concrete warehouse home. Gensler made sure the 68,000-square-foot headquarters, comprised of 15 different departments and large community work cafes, was as rousing as the exterior landscapes. Read more about the showroom

4. Idan Naor Thinks Horizontally for a Brooklyn Brownstone

The archetypical Brooklyn brownstone is a study in verticality, with a few stories of narrow corridors and dark rooms piled atop each other. However, when the local Idan Naor Workshop got the chance to reprogram a gem from the 1920s into a 5-unit apartment building, they decided on a different direction: horizontal. This 2,350-square-foot apartment jettisons the piles of hallways and instead utilizes a gallery to connect public areas to the three bedrooms, while ample natural light floods the expansive open plan. Read more about the brownstone

5. Five Retail Wonderlands Subvert Reality

This retail environment at Gray Matters brings customers into a product-inspired wonderland. Riffing on the brand’s Mildred Egg mule, Bower Studios chose table bases that are ovoids of painted resin composite. See all five stores

6. The Wing Brings Custom-Designed Mother’s Rooms to Brooklyn Office Buildings

When thinking of comfortable and relaxing spaces for a mother to pump or otherwise care for an infant, the office is likely ranked dead last. Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan, cofounders of the women’s co-working space, The Wing, want to change that. Gelman and Kassan have mobilized The Wing’s internal design team to bring secure, private spaces for working moms into the close-knit community of offices in DUMBO, starting with office buildings under Two Trees Management. Read more about the rooms

7. Jessica Helgerson Interior Design Brews Up a Stumptown Café in a Brooklyn Firehouse

New York relies on coffee shops almost as much as municipal services. Now the two are merging—architecturally, at least—thanks to Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ first Brooklyn café, housed in an 1860’s former firehouse in leafy Cobble Hill. Jessica Helgerson Interior Design re-envisioned, along with the help of Structure NYC, the 1,875-square-foot space, most recently an indoor archery studio. Read more about the café

8. Coliving Goes Grand at a Restored Clinton Hill Mansion

A 6,200-square-foot row house on Grand Street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn is the newest of Common’s coliving spaces. Built in 1901, Common restored the five-floor home to function for 23 people. Rather than keeping with the two-family tradition, Common densified the historic mansion in order to make the most of the much-desired square footage that Brooklyn has to offer. Read more about the house

9. LOT Office for Architecture Designs Oasis-Like Digs for Devoción in Downtown Brooklyn

When Devoción‘s first location opened in Williamsburg, Brooklynites delighted at the roastery’s oasis-like design and authentic Colombian brews. The beloved coffeehouse has returned for round two with a 1,700-square-foot space near the borough’s bustling downtown corridor. Greek-American firm LOT Office for Architecture spearheaded interiors that honor local traditions and mother nature in equal measure. Read more about the café

10. Inside Ample Hills Creamery’s Brand-New Exhibition Space in Brooklyn

As if the ice cream wasn’t draw enough. Jackie Cuscuna and Brian Smith, founders of Ample Hills Creamery, have just opened the largest ice-cream factory in all of New York City—and have included an interactive museum, like a cherry on top. A brick building, part of the former Beard Street Warehouses complex in Red Hook, contains 12,500 square feet of production space, plus 2,000 more for exhibits, party areas, and of course a retail shop by Danielle Galland Interior Design. Read more about the factory

Continue reading New in Brooklyn: 10 Hip Coffee Shops, Offices, Apartments, and More

10 Questions With… EDIT Napoli Founders Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petruccelli

EDIT Napoli, a new fair created to support and promote independent design and craft, launches on June 6th in Naples, Italy. Focused on the rise of the designer-maker figure, the debut will feature 60 exhibitors—among them well-known and emerging designers as well as established producers and manufacturers—who all have one thing in common: they favor quality over quantity and have a practice rooted in making. Interior Design spoke to the two women behind the project, Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petrucelli, about the city of Naples, the event, and alternatives to globalized, standardized products.

Interior Design: What does Naples represent to you compared to other Italian or international cities?

Domitilla Dardi: It is the only truly international Italian city. It was the capital of Italy before Rome was and has an urban structure that brings to mind both the great European metropolises of Paris or Madrid with their wide ‘boulevards’ and the small Italian art towns. And then it also has the port and the sea. Naples is one of the Mediterranean capitals and its geographical situation makes it perfect as a crossroads for exchange and cultural encounters. It is no coincidence that it has always been the only Italian city, along with Venice, that is a real reference point for international contemporary art. They are both gateway cities between East and West.

One of the exhibitors at the fair is Beirut-based Nayef Francis. Pictured are his Weave floor and ceiling lamps made of beech wood and wicker. Photography courtesy of Rana Massaad.

ID: What was it about the city that inspired you to create this event?

Emilia Petruccelli: As a city, Naples never leaves people indifferent. There is too much sameness and standardization in the world and I believe that we need more cities like Naples, where you can breathe and cultivate difference and independent ideas. The people who will come to EDIT Napoli are looking for something different, something unexplored.

ID: When did you get the idea for EDIT Napoli?

DD: Emilia came to me two years ago with two very clear ideas: that we should launch a new fair and we should do it in Naples. Together we understood that instead of focusing on sectors like collectible design and design galleries—which already have endless venues and events—we should focus on the world of small batch production, craftsmanship, and the designer-maker. Today this figure is more relevant than ever. We need products that have an identity.

EP: We wanted to create something that was curated, but where people could still be surprised. An event with purpose and clear economic intentions. I believe that independent design has to do business in order to survive.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Lisa White, Curator of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne

During the EDIT Napoli residency program, Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays worked with the leather and iron artisans of Quartieri, a central working-class district in Naples, to create these refined coffee tables and consoles. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.


ID: Why was it important, in your opinion, to launch EDIT Napoli?

EP: Because the retail world is moving and changing fast, from the internet to the commercial and industrial strategies of flagship brands. It needs to innovate and to do so it needs specific places in which it can reflect this change and address it. EDIT Napoli proposes being that place.

DD: Because a fair dedicated to this market segment didn’t exist. We have done a lot of research in the run-up to the event, but the fair won’t be about prototypes or concepts; it will be about real products for the real world.

ID: Who do you want to reach, convince, convert with EDIT Napoli?

EP: We aim to reach and connect international buyers, architects, designers, shop owners, interior designers, all the different strands of the design world basically. The ambition of EDIT Napoli is to become an international reference point for authored design, which thanks to the push of the fair we hope will experience sustainable growth within a few years.

Amsterdam-based design duo Faberhama spent their month-long residency working with historic textile company De Negri & Za.Ma in San Leucio, a town known since the 18th century for silk weaving. The prototypes made then will be showc at the fair and then produced and sold  under the Made in EDIT label. Photography courtesy of Claudio Bonoldi.


ID: Is there a large community of makers, artisans and designers in Naples and the surrounding area?

DD: There is a large community of artisans throughout Italy and in all Mediterranean countries. It is a historical fact that where industry did not have the right socio-economic conditions to take off, craft continued to thrive. But today craft uses updated tools and advanced technologies. There is still much to do to make this sector more widely known and more accessible and this is what we are aiming to do. We want to be a sounding board for the sort of design that can be a genuine alternative to globalized and standardized products.

ID: Do you hope that the event can work as an economic engine for the city?

DD: EDIT Napoli was created as something that could impact various industries in the region. A good example of this is the Made in EDIT residencies. We hosted international designers for a month so they could work with local artisans. The result won’t just be a unique piece that tells the beautiful story of this encounter, the result will be an object or collection that will be replicated, produced, and sold as part of the Made in EDIT brand. Everyone involved in the process will profit from this relationship, not just economically but also in human terms.

The venue for the festival is the monumental 13th-century Complesso di San Domenico Maggiore, a Baroque monastery built on older ruins that has been transformed over the centuries. Photography courtesy of Bianca Hirata.

ID: Can you give me some examples of important and interesting crafts, materials, and manufacturers in the area that you are looking at?

DD: For Made in EDIT, we investigated the ancient Bourbon silk factories of nearby San Leucio with Amsterdam-based designers Faberhama, the leather and metal artisans of the city’s historic central districts with Lebanese designer Khaled El Mays, and the ceramicists of Minori on the Amalfi coast with NYC-based artist Reinaldo Sanguino. In the future we will focus on other manufacturing processes, too, such as coral brooches and Capodimonte porcelain, for instance.

ID: Are there any other local crafts that we should know about?

EP: We are already looking at numerous other artisans and supporting them, so they can take part in the 2020 edition. They include stonemasons, leather goods craftspeople, weavers, and cabinet-makers. But we also want to open ourselves to other craft sectors and not necessarily only local ones from the Campania region.

Milan-based practice De Amicis Architetti will be at the fair with its modular “Otto” table, which can function as a workbench, a dining table, or a large communal table. Photography courtesy of Alberto Strada.


ID: Tell me about a particular highlight at EDIT Napoli? Something you yourselves can’t wait to see?

DD: We are excited to see the new collections. Almost all of our 60 exhibitors are bringing products that they are presenting commercially for the first time at EDIT and for this reason we have launched a dedicated award for best new product to be judged by an international jury. It will be interesting to see the ‘big names’ in design rubbing shoulders with experienced craftspeople and the most disparate typologies being presented side by side.

Read more: 10 Questions With…the Team Behind the Dundee Design Festival 2019

Continue reading 10 Questions With… EDIT Napoli Founders Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petruccelli

A Connecticut Retreat Designed to Attract Houseguests

Finding a home in the country was the easy part. Creating a place their Manhattan friends would want to visit was the challenge.

A Country House for Their City Friends

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Alexandra Rowley

When Manhattanites Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela began looking for a new home in Connecticut, they had mixed feelings about making the move.

Mr. Rappoport, an attorney, was ready to leave his job at a large law firm, and Dr. Varela, a gastroenterologist, had found a practice he planned to join in Hamden, Conn. But their friends and social lives were in New York, even though Mr. Rappoport had grown up in Fairfield, Conn.

“We were moving out of the city to a neighborhood where we had no social ties, other than Matt’s family,” said Dr. Varela, 35.


“There were nerves, as a gay couple, without kids, moving to the suburbs,” said Mr. Rappoport, 31, who is now the chief executive of a finance start-up.

Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela bought and renovated a 19th-century house in Fairfield, Conn., with help from J.P. Franzen Associates Architects and RC Studio.CreditAlexandra Rowley

Matt Rappoport and Beno Varela bought and renovated a 19th-century house in Fairfield, Conn., with help from J.P. Franzen Associates Architects and RC Studio.CreditAlexandra Rowley

But they had an idea about how to calm those nerves: Find a charming house and transform it into a destination so compelling that it would lure their friends for regular visits.

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“It was really important to us to create a beautiful space,” Dr. Varela said. “I wanted to feel like we could host and welcome people from the city.”

When they began hunting for a house in late 2016, they realized there was another issue: Most homes on lots with the leafy, country feeling they wanted were far too large — between 4,000 and 6,000 square feet.

“Coming from a 1,200-square-foot apartment, which was really big for the city, to a house that was 4,000 square feet seemed crazy to us,” Mr. Rappoport said.


Finally, they found a 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom home in Fairfield, dating to the 1830s. It was far from perfect: The main entrance opened directly into the kitchen; it didn’t have the home office Mr. Rappoport needed; and an oddly placed powder room made the ground floor seem dark and chopped up. But they bought it for $937,500 in March 2017 with the intention of making some changes.

The house had originally been built a short distance away, serving as a general store in the 19th century. It was moved to its present location and converted into a home in 1929. A renovation in 2011 produced the kitchen that Mr. Rappoport and Dr. Varela liked and planned to keep.

To overhaul the rest, they turned to Jack Franzen, of J.P. Franzen Associates Architects, and Rena Cherny, an interior designer who owns RC Studio, who developed plans to reconfigure the ground floor by demolishing the powder room — which sat at one end of the living room, blocking light from two windows — and create a single, bright living-and-dining area. Then they used the footprint of the old formal dining room to create a new powder room and home office.

A powder room was demolished to make room for a large, open living and dining area furnished with a Modern Lounge sectional sofa from Montauk Sofa, Fly SC1 chairs from &Tradition (from $3,029), a custom upholstered ottoman and a Lucia wool rug from Tibetano.CreditAlexandra Rowley

A powder room was demolished to make room for a large, open living and dining area furnished with a Modern Lounge sectional sofa from Montauk Sofa, Fly SC1 chairs from &Tradition (from $3,029), a custom upholstered ottoman and a Lucia wool rug from Tibetano.CreditAlexandra Rowley

The objective was “to clean it up, but to keep the charm of it, while making better use of the spaces,” Mr. Franzen said.

“We wanted it to be cozy for entertaining, but definitely modern and fresh, while maintaining all the elements of an old home: the original windows, doors, hardware and shutters,” Ms. Cherny said. “The vibe of a country home, but with fresh furnishings.”

Achieving that took about a year and $250,000, as Ms. Cherny delicately negotiated the purchase of furniture and accessories that suited Mr. Rappoport’s preference for midcentury-modern design and Dr. Varela’s desire for softness and a touch of the traditional.

“Part of what we needed her for was to mediate between us,” Mr. Rappoport said. “To understand both of us, and find things that worked.”

Added Dr. Varela, “She was really our therapist for that entire year.”

Ms. Cherny furnished the living room with a carefully chosen mix of clean-lined, comfortable furniture, including a cushy Montauk sectional sofa, a corduroy wool Tibetano rug and a large custom-upholstered ottoman.

The dining area has harder, more angular elements, including steel-and-wood Standard chairs from Vitra, an Agnes chandelier from Roll & Hill and a slender concrete dining table from ABC Carpet & Home, as well as a moody Jenny Boot photograph that the couple bought at the New York Affordable Art Fair.

The lounge space outdoors has a Terassi sofa ($3,995) and chairs ($1,695) from Design Within Reach and Shoreline ceramic side tables from Serena & Lily ($258) arranged around a gas Kove fire table from Brown Jordan Fires ($2,636).CreditAlexandra Rowley


The lounge space outdoors has a Terassi sofa ($3,995) and chairs ($1,695) from Design Within Reach and Shoreline ceramic side tables from Serena & Lily ($258) arranged around a gas Kove fire table from Brown Jordan Fires ($2,636).CreditAlexandra Rowley

Beyond a Dutch door, Ms. Cherny also designed a patio with a lounging area around a firepit, and a separate outdoor dining area with a long table that can seat eight, to take advantage of the bucolic, one-acre lot.

This spring, Mr. Rappoport and Dr. Varela are rerouting the driveway, to bring guests to the proper front door of the house rather than the kitchen door. But since finishing the majority of the renovation last summer, they have been pleased to discover that their house is already having the desired effect on friends.

“They enjoy it,” Dr. Varela said. “People actually do want to get out of the city more than I thought they would.”

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ASID Events



ICFF is North America’s platform for global design. Over 900 exhibitors from across the globe showcase what’s best and what’s next for luxury interior design to more than 38,000 design industry attendees each year in New York.



8:00 AM
5/19/2019 – 5/22/2019


Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 W. 34th St.
New York, NY 10001
United States



ICFF offers an unparalleled opportunity to view innovative design trends from across the globe and experience interactive, educational programming led by the industry’s leading designers and icons. Architects, interior designers, visual merchandisers, and developers visit ICFF each year for inspiration and concepts to apply in their next design project.


  • ICFF Talks
    Positioned on the show floor, ICFF Talks features design visionaries and leaders who share insight and knowledge as it relates to the interior design world
  • ICFF Studio
    In its 14th year, ICFF and Bernhardt Design bring the next crop of emerging designers to the forefront through the juried ICFF Studio competition
  • NYCxDESIGN Awards & Party
    Presented by Interior Design Magazine and ICFF, the NYCxDESIGN Awards & Party is a highlight of NYCxDESIGN, New York’s annual celebration of design that attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees and designers from across the globe


ASID is thrilled to showcase the impact of design at ICFF, engage with visitors, and explore the beautiful, impactful, and sometimes surprising ways that design impacts lives. We’ll also provide timely and relevant education sessions each day.


Sunday, May 19

12 – 1 p.m. Aging in Place in an Urban Environment: New Design Solutions
Speakers: TBD

How do we design housing to accommodate multiple generations with different needs, incorporating cutting-edge solutions for flexibility and accessibility? Learn how multi-family and community housing in urban environments is evolving to reflect new family structures and an aging population. You’ll come away with practical ideas to help you create flexible living spaces to fit and adapt to the current trends of universal and accessible design.

Monday, May 20

12 – 1 p.m. Creating Purpose-Driven Spaces: What Does it Look Like to Leverage Design for Good?
Speaker: Meena Krenek, ASID, LEED BD+C

Human emotion is uniquely tied to human behavior. An individual’s emotional connection to a space, environment, or culture can provide a strong sense of belonging. This is valuable for developing engagement within spaces we design. As designers, we have the ability to impact behaviors through our design decisions. We must be mindful of this power as we seek a deeper meaning, experience, or contribution to society with our work. It’s important to continuously understand our audience and build spaces that represent a greater purpose and relationship to the activities that happen within, inspiring users and reaching their hearts and minds. In today’s world, everything is so highly competitive and constantly evolving that when designers create purpose-driven spaces, they develop a level of captivation and engagement with the environment which sets them apart.

Meena Krenek, ASID, LEED BD+C

Read more

Tuesday, May 21

12 – 1 p.m. Business Skills for Creatives: What You Need to Know About Contracts and Fees
Speaker: Phyllis Harbinger, ASID, NCIDQ, CID

The contract between you and your client is a legal document, and plays a critical role in setting the tone and establishing yourself as a professional. Every contract includes a section on Designer Compensation, and we’ll show you how to effectively present your fee structure to reflect the true value of your design services, giving you guidelines and tips so that you can maximize profits. Gain insight and strategies to help you establish the right price point for your creative skills, services, and design vision – ensuring business profitability and success.

Phyllis Harbinger, ASID, NCIDQ, CID

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The ASID DESIGN IMPACT Awards recognize innovative products that put people and the environment at the center of design intent. Winning products will be featured by exhibitors at ICFF.

Continue reading ASID Events

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