03 Apr Home Tour: An Art Inspired Columbus Circle Apartment by Marc Houston
We spoke to New York based interior designer, Marc Houston, about his artistically inspired work on an apartment in Columbus Circle. The textures and natural palette of this space creates a breathtaking scene we just had to know more about.
You mentioned that Henri Rousseau’s The Dream was the inspiration for this space. How does art influence you as an interior designer?
For me, art is an endless source of inspiration and delight. It encourages the viewer to be simultaneously lost and present in a moment. It offers a glimpse into the past, an escape from the present and often a view of the future so I also connect with it on an anthropological level as one of the most honest expressions of the latitudes of human emotion. Despite people’s views regarding the extravagance and frivolity of this profession, much of my work is about mining the intangible, emotional data from my clients that informs their daily lives. Art can be a vehicle through which to interpret these abstracts in a spatial context. It’s such a critical component of any composition, not only for its aesthetic value but also for its ability to subliminally affect one’s mood and command the energy of a space.
How were you able to translate the client’s globally inspired tastes into the design?
This client has travelled extensively so I wanted to fashion a cosmopolitan setting with global, period-spanning furnishings that reflect this passion but also ensure adequate display opportunities for items collected. This factor informed the selections of architectural materials as the intentionally neutral envelope frames an almost gallery-like space where art and artifact come to the fore.
What role does color play in your interior? How do you use color to tell a story?
On occasion clients request integration of specific colors in a scheme, but my use of it is very much contextual and often driven by a myriad of factors beyond client affinities. Quality of light, visual relation to the exterior, architectural considerations and inspirational influences are all examined when crafting an environment. The palette in this project was certainly influenced by the painting but enacted in a manner sympathetic to both the external views and the fortuitous buoyancy of natural light.
How did the art piece inspire your mixture of materials like terrazzo, woods, and industrial metals?
In person, the painting possesses an irrefutable magnetism, partly because of its scale, but also due to the intrigue created by the juxtaposition of disparate elements within its composition. Plant and animal forms are rendered in a primitive manner contrasting the elegance of the upholstered divan which is seemingly misplaced in dense jungle environs yet suitable for a woman to take repose, in the nude much less. Critters be damned! I was enamored of the idiosyncrasy and pure fantasy of the work and wanted to translate its luxuriant, exotic aura in a contemporary, approachable manner. My goal with every project is to create a fundamental connection between user and space by employing materials that demand interaction, that beg to be touched. These tactile material selections inject sensuality and surprise while subverting expectation of their use. Metals considered industrial adopt a civilized air in this domestic setting while the executions in wood and terrazzo impart timelessness and sophistication.
You mentioned that the space was narrow and restrictive. How were you able to maximize the space without overcrowding?
This project required a significant level of customization in order to maximize its restrictive volumes. At only 10’ feet wide, which is not atypical for most NY apartments, seating opportunities in the public space were severely limited, especially given the need to address multiple functions and comfortably accommodate the owners and their guests. Carefully considered built-ins and custom furniture fitted specifically for the space allowed for optimal functionality in both living and dining areas as well as in the bedrooms where seating, storage, and electrical/HVAC considerations were integrated seamlessly. Where possible, sliding and pocket doors replaced swing doors which did require moving walls but increased ease of access and movement. Additional millwork components were installed optimally within the existing structure.
Currently working on two townhouses in Brooklyn, a Gramercy Park duplex and a Flatiron apartment. I’m excited to work with any fearless, curious, rebellious client but my secret ambition: to design an upmarket adult fetish playground… think Salvador Dali meets Tom of Finland meets Alexander McQueen. Have I said too much?