Black Suite

The top floor of this Manhattan townhouse is redesigned to accommodate private spaces for two men, a painter and a dancer. The entire interior is wrapped in high-gloss lacquer paneling, concealing various programmatic components, including storage, dressing rooms, a water closet, audio-visual equipment, and elevator access. The form of the wrapper is “mute” - relying on the tried-and-true minimal detailing of aligned joints, flush surfaces, and recessed hardware. The intricate character of the space instead comes from the precisely calibrated performance of the material finish - reflections, distortions, and visual amplifications caused by the interaction between light and surface.

In this way, the new black surface paradoxically accomplishes what is often attributed to white spaces - a sense of openness, expansion and luminosity. It also achieves what neutral surfaces rarely do, a constant state of change, depending on both one’s position within the space and the penetrating light conditions from without. The project reflects our interest in designing immersive spaces, the kinds environments where details recede into the background as the overall atmosphere takes over.