Today Curbed sits down with Alexandra Pappas, one half of the design team Pappas-Miron, to discuss a recent project the duo tackled in Manhattan's West Village, transforming a white-box rental into something more like a home for a family in transition.
We always like starting with the client. Who were they and what were they looking for in the space?
The clients were a young family who were friends of a previous client of ours and they moved into this loft from another rental. They wanted to sort of make it feel a bit more permanent and also invest in pieces that they could potentially take with them when they eventually left the apartment. As far as I remember their children went to school nearby as well.
Looking at the photos of the project, it seems to have a more streamlined, midcentury-type look compared to some of your other work. Was that influenced by the client's style or was that motivated by the fact that it was a rental and all the stuff would eventually have to be moved out?
I think that the architecture very often informs what direction we go in when we meet with a client, but I think generally the way that we work is to really collaborate with our clients. There is a pretty big range, but sometimes we'll have clients who are on the Upper East Side, who want something a bit more traditional, but in this case, both the husband and the wife were very much interested in that midcentury look.
Because it was a rental, were there any architectural quirks you had to work around, since you couldn't change much physically?
Yes. For example, the windows just had those solar shades, and just because they were so massive and it was a rental, we decided against doing any custom draperies. They were what the owner had provided, but they were very clean and inoffensive, so we stuck with those. Also, painting. They weren't very keen on painting. We did do some painting in the bedrooms, but generally wanted to leave the envelope as it was so there wasn't a big hassle in changing it back when they moved. As far as rentals go it did have really nice finishes, it was a great kitchen, the floor color was good, and there was an accommodation for a light fixture over the dining room table. Adding new lighting always makes things a bit more personal and less sterile.
Was there anything you wish you could have changed that you could not?
I don't think so actually. Maybe if it were not a rental we would have encouraged them to do a beautiful rug, as opposed to doing a sisal, which we did to cover the floors and make it feel more finished. We very often start projects from the ground up and pull colors and things from a great rug, but with rentals or small budgets we use sisal as a neutral backdrop. Also, maybe we would have done something differently with the drapery and window treatment.
That said, what parts of the apartment are you most proud of?
I think that we successfully transformed the space from a rental into a designed home for them and I think that they were willing to invest in some great pieces that they're going to have for a lifetime. I also like how we mixed materials, like the resin of the coffee table, and some of the scale, between the great Tom Dixon wing chair and the cabinet from BBDW. The other piece, with the gold lamps on it, is a Roman Thomas piece, which is a much more classic, traditional piece, but it works well in conjunction with all of the modern elements.
So, you both have backgrounds in art history. How does that come into play in your work? Do you help the client choose the artwork or do you work around the existing artwork?
Well, Tatyana [Miron] and I grew up together, our parents are very good friends and we have a lot of shared travel experiences, and we were both creatively inclined growing up, so for both of us that seemed like a natural focus in school. Thanks to our exposure to art, antiques, and rugs and having travelled extensively—we went to Russia together right after college—we've developed an appreciation for unique colors and textiles that plays a role when we're building an interior. As far as art is concerned, we will help guide clients and we've worked in both ways: where they come to us with pieces or where we help them and put them in touch with art consultants. We have a pretty young clientele, so sometimes they don't come with much of anything.
So what's up next for the firm? Are there any new projects we should know about?
We're working on a duplex on West 23rd Street [in Manhattan], an apartment up in Boston, and working again with previous clients on a loft in SoHo, continuing to add to an interior we did for them a couple of years ago, along with a project down in Tribeca. Lots of things in the mix!
· Pappas-Miron [official site]