Growing up in close proximity to Manhattan, I spent every weekend of my younger years in the Village and Soho, which at the time was the height of ‘loft living’ – real factory space turned habitable – nothing like what people call lofts today. Being a minimalist at heart, there was nothing I did not like about lofts. They allowed the inhabitants to break free from ‘rooms’ and live what I would call a truly ‘tabula rasa’ life. It impressed me and helped form the direction for my future business. Having taken numerous courses at university in logic and problem solving, religion and psychology, I was well aware of two things: 1 – how to get to the core of issues (even design) and 2 – what drives the human spirit. These things still form the basis of most of my design decisions. Welcome to a ‘Lover’s Object’.
In the german language, a ‘Liebhaberobjekt’, or ‘Lover’s Object’ directly translated, is the term used to describe a real-estate object that is special and has unique features. It is a given that such objects have a smaller set of potential buyers or buyers with the necessary capital to spend on such an extraordinary object. My first loft development was in Basel, Switzerland – a small city which became my new home in the early 90s. I bought an old dough factory (yes the kind you make bread with), which basically looked like a big bathroom on the inside – six floors of walls and floors that were covered in white tile – almost like the NYC subway, to allow the factory to be cleaned properly for the production of food. We stripped that place back to its bones, put in concrete floors, stone staircases and installed birch, custom-made kitchen and bath furniture and made 4 tabula rasa lofts. That was it. Three things formed the basis of the design – concrete, stone, birch. The building became so popular that the international head of marketing of Vitra lived there, which says a bit about the style. That was my first ‘lover’s object’, but wasn’t going to be the last. My first property taught me things I will never forget: a) limit the design to a few essential elements, b) spend on good substance, c) don’t design for the masses. I made the decision that my design would be as reduced as possible – and the inhabitants of my spaces should become the color – the life of the lover’s object, with no intrusion from the architecture.
New York, 10 November 2019
Editors Note: Insensation is a product company that manufactures unique staircases and doors. We only do property development for ourselves, not for clients.