The Manhattan Transformation

written by:
photos by:
November 4, 2010
Originally published in Live/Work

As head of retail development and legal counsel leasing for American Apparel, Michael Pozner spends a lot of time sorting out the details when a new venue is chosen for the brand’s purposes. But, he admits, “I’m not a big architectural design guy.” So when he decided to reinvent the diminutive Manhattan studio in which he lives and works, Pozner tapped Darrick Borowski of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture with whom he’d collaborated on multiple American Apparel stores. Pozner explains what happened when, architecturally speaking, he took his work home with him.

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  Of the seven steps in Michael Pozner’s not-quite-500-square-foot aerie in Greenwich Village, five contain drawers. His small set of table and chairs is from CB2.
    Of the seven steps in Michael Pozner’s not-quite-500-square-foot aerie in Greenwich Village, five contain drawers. His small set of table and chairs is from CB2.
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  White oak paneling imbues uniformity and warmth into the hallway, kitchen, and living spaces.
    White oak paneling imbues uniformity and warmth into the hallway, kitchen, and living spaces.
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  Pozner fills down time with creative projects, such as the “List Art” canvas featuring his favorite bands.
    Pozner fills down time with creative projects, such as the “List Art” canvas featuring his favorite bands.
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  Architect Darrick Borowski, designed the nearly wall-size custom cabinetry.
    Architect Darrick Borowski, designed the nearly wall-size custom cabinetry.
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  Exploratory demolition revealed enough space in the kitchen for an Asko washer-dryer and a full-size refrigerator.
    Exploratory demolition revealed enough space in the kitchen for an Asko washer-dryer and a full-size refrigerator.
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  To maximize space, both sides of the bed are outfitted with wall sockets and reading lights.
    To maximize space, both sides of the bed are outfitted with wall sockets and reading lights.
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  Each of the sliding trays in Pozner’s tidy office desk serves a different function.
    Each of the sliding trays in Pozner’s tidy office desk serves a different function.
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  “The most important thing to do in a small space is exploratory demolition,” Pozner says. “We found all that height in the bathroom ceiling. There are giant cabinets above the bed—we found all that space. This facilitated architect Darrick Borowski’s small-space rallying cry: “Built-ins, built-ins, built-ins!”
    “The most important thing to do in a small space is exploratory demolition,” Pozner says. “We found all that height in the bathroom ceiling. There are giant cabinets above the bed—we found all that space. This facilitated architect Darrick Borowski’s small-space rallying cry: “Built-ins, built-ins, built-ins!”
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  Borowski took what he archly calls the “Karl Rove approach” to the redesign: “Find the weaknesses and turn them into strengths.” A case in point: Pozner’s ubiquitous piles of paperwork. “These led us to design multiple sliding desktops,” fabricated by Paul Chung of New York Construction Associates and Supreme General Construction, with multiple sliding trays he could spread his papers out on.
    Borowski took what he archly calls the “Karl Rove approach” to the redesign: “Find the weaknesses and turn them into strengths.” A case in point: Pozner’s ubiquitous piles of paperwork. “These led us to design multiple sliding desktops,” fabricated by Paul Chung of New York Construction Associates and Supreme General Construction, with multiple sliding trays he could spread his papers out on.
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  “I got rid of the bathtub because I like the idea of a big shower,” Pozner explains. But to achieve a comparable effect, he installed a teak bench from Waterworks on the rear shower wall. “One of the things I like about a bath is that you can soak. Here I can sit and have the water pound on me—it’s a hybrid shower and bath.”
    “I got rid of the bathtub because I like the idea of a big shower,” Pozner explains. But to achieve a comparable effect, he installed a teak bench from Waterworks on the rear shower wall. “One of the things I like about a bath is that you can soak. Here I can sit and have the water pound on me—it’s a hybrid shower and bath.”
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  “Try to group uses and find solutions that solve multiple problems,” Borowski counsels. As an example, Pozner cites the idea of having the loft stairs double as clothing drawers. Though he eschewed a handrail, preferring a cleaner look, Pozner says that the slipperiness of the stairs “remains a work in progress. We had grooves, but they hurt my feet.” The pair are now looking into heavy-duty felt treads.
    “Try to group uses and find solutions that solve multiple problems,” Borowski counsels. As an example, Pozner cites the idea of having the loft stairs double as clothing drawers. Though he eschewed a handrail, preferring a cleaner look, Pozner says that the slipperiness of the stairs “remains a work in progress. We had grooves, but they hurt my feet.” The pair are now looking into heavy-duty felt treads.
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  Pozner credits Borowski with the idea to use a roller shade, purchased at the Shade Store, to close off the sleeping loft. The simple intervention, neither sound- nor lightproof, is sufficient to demarcate one “room” from another.
    Pozner credits Borowski with the idea to use a roller shade, purchased at the Shade Store, to close off the sleeping loft. The simple intervention, neither sound- nor lightproof, is sufficient to demarcate one “room” from another.
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