Drumming Up Design

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January 25, 2009
Originally published in Living Landscapes
Brotherly love takes many forms; in the case of Rob and Eric Brill, it’s a shared passion for modernism. Rob, the younger of the two and a rock musician, recently completed the second of two live/work homes in Los Angeles that serve as spaces for recording and rehearsing and as expressions of his taste for a bracingly spartan brand of minimalism. He built both homes with co-investment from his brother Eric, a retired businessman and serious collector of industrial design, who until recently lived in a 1934 Edward Durrell Stone house in New York State. “We are modernists,” says Rob, with the clarity of someone declaring a religious belief. “We love its simplicity, the embrace of its surroundings.” Along the way, though, the Brill brothers have been struck by another near-spiritual commitment: environmentalism.
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  When Brill purchased his residence, a onetime warehouse for mid-century lighting fixtures, it was subdivided. He and architect Tony Unruh gutted the 1,800-square-foot building completely and created an open floor plan for Brill's living areas and practice space.
    When Brill purchased his residence, a onetime warehouse for mid-century lighting fixtures, it was subdivided. He and architect Tony Unruh gutted the 1,800-square-foot building completely and created an open floor plan for Brill's living areas and practice space.
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  Rob Brill makes nice with this good buddy, Junior next to a curved and corrugated steel enclosure.
    Rob Brill makes nice with this good buddy, Junior next to a curved and corrugated steel enclosure.
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  Brill's practice area features a ’50s Wurlitzer piano and a mid-’60s Ludwig drum kit. For acoustics, the architect insulated the walls with two layers of Sheetrock stuffed with denim insulation. The floor is made of pegboard—an unusual, albeit cost-effective, material choice.
    Brill's practice area features a ’50s Wurlitzer piano and a mid-’60s Ludwig drum kit. For acoustics, the architect insulated the walls with two layers of Sheetrock stuffed with denim insulation. The floor is made of pegboard—an unusual, albeit cost-effective, material choice.
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  Brill softens his spartan living space with his music. An IKEA set of table and chairs commingles with some 1963 Slingerland drums.
    Brill softens his spartan living space with his music. An IKEA set of table and chairs commingles with some 1963 Slingerland drums.
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  When feeling more Depeche Mode than Def Leppard, Brill turns to his Rhythm Ace drum machine, sitting on top of assorted recording gear.
    When feeling more Depeche Mode than Def Leppard, Brill turns to his Rhythm Ace drum machine, sitting on top of assorted recording gear.
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  Brill’s Prius sits under the solar panels, which supplies the energy for the house's lighting, air-conditioning and hot water.
    Brill’s Prius sits under the solar panels, which supplies the energy for the house's lighting, air-conditioning and hot water.
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  The house’s bare-essentials decor extends into the kitchen, which owes more to sleek commercial cooking spaces than anything on the Food Network.
    The house’s bare-essentials decor extends into the kitchen, which owes more to sleek commercial cooking spaces than anything on the Food Network.
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  The kitchen's restaurant-supply counter and Model Six stools by Jeff Covey for Herman Miller are next to a large window overlooking the garden.
    The kitchen's restaurant-supply counter and Model Six stools by Jeff Covey for Herman Miller are next to a large window overlooking the garden.
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