05/09/14 4:00pm

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As part of Design Week, BKLYN Designs is back in Dumbo, and there’s a new show at Industry City about design objects and processes featuring local makers.

BKLYN Designs is a juried show of contemporary furnishings, lighting and accessories made or designed in Brooklyn. There will also be special events over the three-day show, which runs today through Sunday, including a panel on design moderated by New York Magazine’s design editor Wendy Goodman, a walking tour of Dumbo with Architect’s Newspaper editor Alan Brake, and a Kidville Brooklyn outdoor play lounge on Jay Street. The main exhibition space is at St. Ann’s Warehouse at 29 Jay Street. For more information, see the BKLYN Designs website.

Industry City/Design will also have demos, workshops and a “Meet the Maker” series. Participants include ToBeUs, Urban Glass, BHold, Alpi, Tools for Working Wood (pictured), and DDC/BuiltNYC. The show opens Saturday and runs through Tuesday May 20 at 220 36th Street in Sunset Park. For more information, check out the show’s website.

05/08/14 4:00pm

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The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of its 14th Building Brooklyn Awards, which evaluate new construction and renovation projects ranging from schools to historic restorations, at the Only Brooklyn Real Estate Summit on Tuesday. Fort Greene’s very modern Theater for a New Audience won in the Arts and Culture category, and the Weeksville Heritage Center (pictured) won for Civic/Institutional.

Other winners included the Coney Island YMCA, Liberty View Industrial Plaza in Sunset Park, Pave Academy Charter School in Red Hook, the restoration of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility, Coney Island’s planned comfort stations, the Gowanus Whole Foods and Brookland Capital’s Bed Stuy offices.

Kickstarter’s fancy eco-friendly offices in the Eberhard Pencil Factory also made the cut, as did the design for CAMBA Gardens in Flatbush and Two Trees’ revamp of a brick factory at 25 Washington Street. Click over to this slideshow created by the Chamber to see photos and renderings of all the winning buildings.

What do you think of the selections?

04/18/14 9:00am

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There is probably no more all-consuming home design trend in the last 35 years than the “great room,” a giant open plan room that combines family room and dining room with kitchen. This has resulted most recently in Brooklyn in flippers who rip all the walls out of 19th century houses and the building of so-called luxury apartments with tiny strip kitchens in the living room.

Now, according to The New York Times, renters and home buyers both are demanding separate kitchens and dining rooms, and builders are building them. The story details home hunters who purchased a one-bedroom Art Deco apartment in Kensington with a traditional kitchen and a townhouse in Ditmas Park with a separate kitchen and formal oak-paneled dining room. Above, the separate dining room and kitchen at Jessica and Doug Warren’s house in Clinton Hill. Reasons given include:

*Better for entertaining.
*Don’t have to see dirty dishes.
*Hides the prep work.

“So much new construction features open floor plans that there’s a pent-up desire for apartments with separate dining rooms and kitchen,” said one real estate agent. “For a certain demographic, they’re a definite selling point.”

The Times cited many new buildings with traditional floor plans, including one with pocket doors that let the inhabitants decide whether to open or close off the kitchen. All of them, tellingly, are in Manhattan where new construction is focused on the very high end of the market, except for one, the rental building at 250 North 10th in Williamsburg. A third of the studios there feature “single-opening galley kitchens separate from the living area.” They are priced at about $2,500 a month.

“People say, I’ve been looking for this,” said the developer. “Not a majority, but you hear it from people who like to cook. Nevertheless, they don’t want to cook in the middle of their living room.”

Which do you prefer?

The Separate Kitchen Makes a Comeback [NY Times]
Photo by Desire to Inspire

03/04/14 4:00pm

adaptive-reuse-030414A distinguished  panel of architects and designers will discuss the virtues and challenges of adaptive reuse at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Thursday, March 6.

Panelists include Morris Adjmi, architect of the Wythe Hotel; Joseph Vance of Joseph Vance Architecture; Daniella Romano, Vice President of Programs, Research, and Archive at Brooklyn Navy Yard’s BLDG 92; Bill Hilgendorf of Uhuru Design; and photographer and co-author of “Design Brooklyn” Michel Arnaud.

“Design Brooklyn” co-author Anne Hellman will moderate. A book signing and beer for sale will follow the discussion.

“Adaptive Reuse in Brooklyn: Buildings, Rooms, and Objects” takes place at 128 Pierrepont Street from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased here.

02/20/14 11:30am

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Design Brooklyn brings us some fresh shots and commentary on Prospect Park’s beautiful new LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

In a section of Prospect Park called Lakeside — until recently the somewhat neglected site of the Wollman Rink — a crisply beautiful new building has taken its place within the landscape. Designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien in collaboration with the Prospect Park Alliance’s lead landscape architect Christian Zimmerman, the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center offers a year-round skating facility as well as a stunning example of how restoration can work hand-in-hand with modern design. (more…)

01/29/14 4:00pm

Jon Sherman of Flavor Paper, Stephanie and Pamela Katch of Katch ID, Leyden Lewis of Leyden Lewis Design Studio, and Jean and Oliver Pelle of Pelle Studio will discuss interior design, renovation, and object design at a panel in honor of the book Design Brooklyn at Book Court tomorrow night.

Author Anne Hellman will moderate, and Hellman and photographer Michael Arnaud will sign copies of their book.

If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the award-winning volume, FYI it features tons of interiors that have not appeared elsewhere or in their column here on Brownstoner or on their blog. The event takes place at 7 pm tomorrow at Book Court at 163 Court Street in Cobble Hill.

12/02/13 11:30am

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In preparation for its 150th anniversary, the Brooklyn Historical Society pursued a vision of bringing the interiors of its attractively preserved building on Pierrepont Street into the 21st century, while still respecting the past. Working with Christoff: Finio Architecture, BHS created an airy, high-tech event space, dynamic new galleries, a reconceived shop supporting Brooklyn makers, and classroom space for student and community activities. (more…)

11/18/13 11:30am

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Editor’s note: We’ve covered BRIC House extensively, but this post has lots of new material on the architectural and design aspects of the development.

The Strand Theater had once been a grand Vaudeville theater among many show-business venues clustered around the intersection of Flatbush and Dekalb in Fort Greene. Built in 1918, the structure was in disrepair when the New York City Economic Development Corporation took control, leasing the building to two tenants: BRIC Arts|Media House, a nonprofit arts organization that produces and enables art and community media programs, and UrbanGlass, an artist-access glass center. Leeser Architecture was awarded a bid by the NYCEDC to transform the building into a functional facility for both entities while also giving them visibility from the street. (more…)

11/18/13 9:00am

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Set to open soon at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, the Sims Municipal Recycling Facility makes a case for the social and economic benefits of good design, wrote architectural critic Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times. Designed by the increasingly high profile Selldorf Architects, rather than some engineers as is often the case with municipal works, it will be open to the public for tours, provide jobs in the area, and save New York City some money on waste disposal.

As for the design, “the facility is understated, well proportioned and well planned — elegant, actually, and not just for a garbage site,” he said. “It is an ensemble of modernist boxes squeezing art, and even a little drama, from a relatively meager design budget.”

A gigantic solar roof — Sims says it’s the largest in New York City — will help power the complex. Click through to the New York Times for more photos or to Selldorf’s site for more renderings. What do you think of the design?

A Grace Note for a Gritty Business [NY Times]
Image by Selldorf Architects

11/07/13 11:30am

TEA Parlor Room

Ali Vanderpool and Ariana Villalta were working at a high end design firm in New York City when they decided to take the plunge and open their own residential interior design firm, The Elegant Abode, in 2011. They recently completed a revamp of a parlor floor in a Brooklyn brownstone.

The rooms were previously decorated in a very formal style with traditional fireplaces, red striped silk curtains, and a red Persian rug. The clients asked for a more relaxed and functional space where they could entertain guests and spend time together as a family — including their three girls and the family dog. The designers aimed to create elegant and sophisticated rooms that would also be practical and comfortable.

The designers updated everything, including the fireplaces, floors, millwork, lighting, window treatments and furniture. They chose a neutral palette (their signature), with accents of purple and green. Texture was incorporated in the jagged Mosaic Sentousai stone fireplace and nubby fabrics. They selected “modern, sleek and structured” furniture, including a Pucci bench and credenza from BDDW. The fireplace was designed to be the focus of the room, “without being fussy or formal.” (more…)

10/31/13 9:00am

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Alexandros Washburn, the head urban designer for the New York City Department of City Planning, renovated his Red Hook row house with some innovations other city dwellers could make use of, including anti-flood devices. He kept the original staircase, but added an open, overhead flight of stairs to the top story that serves as a design element and lets in light from the roof, The New York Times reported in a profile of the house and its owners. The thick kitchen counters are made from joists salvaged during the renovation. Exposed brick and persian carpets, from his mother, who grew up in Istanbul, are strong design elements throughout the house.

“Mr. Washburn bought the three-story house in 2007, for $800,000, and spent another $500,000 renovating it,” said the Times. “Six years later, he is nearly finished, except for the ground floor, which was three feet deep in water during the hurricane.”

Right now, he and his family live on the upper floors, in case of flooding, but he would like to rent out the ground-level retail space. Toward that end, he is working on a system to keep water out of his house and his neighbor’s house during the next flood. If it works, hopes to get the DOB to approve it. (more…)

Breuckelen Berber 1

Handmade rug retailer Breuckelen Berber, located on the Columbia Street Waterfront, offers far more than an in-and-out shopping experience. Owners Nathan Ursch and Brin Reinhardt have created a space in which vintage Moroccan Berber carpets and other furnishings find a true home in a Brooklyn storefront. They had looked for a spot on Atlantic Avenue when expanding their business a year and a half ago, but Columbia Street was more affordable and, fortuitously, has since become a walking destination in its own right. (more…)