Posts Tagged ‘ construction ’

The Luxury of an Outdoor Space…

Any urban dweller knows what luxury means when speaking about apartments… closet space, two bathrooms, washer/dryer in the apartment, and the ultimate luxury…outdoor space. The coveted outdoor space has become a premium when looking for a home to buy or rent. It also reflects in the rental or sale price. What does having an outdoor space,  in a city like New York mean? It is the ultimate oasis and entertainment center of the home in the warm months or even in the cool autumn. It invokes the spirit of privacy and serenity. If you are lucky enough to find a space with a terrace, backyard or front patio, grab it.

New York City has a strong café culture, with restaurant after bar after café lining the streets filled with people enjoying the outdoors.The idea that you have that in your home and can decorate and creating mood lighting and decide the amenities, is heaven. When I am doing a project with outdoor space, just like the indoor space, I ask the client what is on their wish list. Do they want a garden, barbecue area, outdoor kitchen, specially designed lighting, built in seating? The options are wide ranging. If it is a small space, what is their goal? Entertaining? Outdoor eating space? An extension of the kitchen or dining area? There are so many ideas and budgets for an outdoor area.

 Luxury is not always based on a monetary value, it is based on the convenience and freedom that a luxury item or service can give to someone. An outdoor space is a welcome addition to any home, it brings nature to an urban dweller and space for family life and entertaining and creating memories.

Whether it is a barbecue grill, comfortable chaise for lying in the summer sun or a flower or vegetable garden promoting sustainability, an outdoor sanctuary is a luxury and something that a lucky few will have in a crowded city


An Architect’s Signature Style…



There are some professions which carry many “myths” or “trends” having to do with the way they dress. I think an Architect has a sort of uniform, a standard to which they adhere to, that presents a professional and chic image to their clients and colleagues. Your look and way of dress is an investment towards your success

Many Architects love to wear black. In a depiction of an Architect in film or TV or even live theater, they are swathed in black, a minimal chic ensemble usually punctuated by standout glasses  a chic bag, or a statement accessory. But what is the science behind the all black ensemble. I have some theories….

Black, or a dark neutral like grey or navy blue,  is versatile, it can go from day to night, casual to elegant and can last on the jobsite, through busy travel days and still look polished at day’s end. It is a neutral color and can be combined with many jackets, accessories and shoes, therefore making it somewhat of a “uniform” but not staid or stuffy, it can look artistic but not boring, having a dramatic flair.

Architects show their designs to potential clients, their work is the star of their show, the crown jewel of their achievement, so a black outfit does not detract from the page, computer screen or the rendering. Black can look professional but not distracting, without the garishness of a multicolored ensemble.

Finance:  Architects are hardworking and diligent and at the beginning of this career, one that can only be chosen because of a deep passion, black can be affordable, especially when that project has not landed yet and your client roster is less than overflowing. One quality piece can take the Architect a long way and be in under the budget. Spending your money on a few key simple and neutral colored pieces can last for years with only minor additions from season to season.

Architects have great glasses, while this can be considered a stereotype or cliché, I know many who invest in a chic and unique pair of spectacles, they can make an otherwise non-descript outfit look interesting and creative.

It is how the Architect puts themselves together that is also an art, never stuffy but professional with that creative edge for this highly demanding and creative field.

Dressing for success is important, the way you are perceived in a professional setting can be determined by how you carry yourself and how effortless yet captivating your attire is, our clothes are our armor. Looking well put together says to that potential client, that you have pride in not only your abilities, but yourself.

The Architect’s job is to not only interpret their clients’ vision and dreams, it is also to  inspire them to expand on those dreams.  They are a representation of their field, a highly trained and talented group of people who construct spaces and structures that become a part of history. Looking fashionable, chic and timeless goes hand in hand with this challenging and rewarding field.


Green Spaces that Work… Beyond Concept to Functionality



There have been many trends in Architecture and lifestyle, but I think the “green” trend has inhabited every aspect of our lives. In its concept, “Green” living refers to… “a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of green living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.” As defined by Wikipedia. This concept has permeated the zeitgeist and made positive strides in health and well-being. Green living has affected how we live, shop, eat and exercise and in Architecture it has affected how residential and commercial construction is designed.

From reducing our carbon footprint, saving energy, consuming less, eating well and living in a less excessive style, everyone can benefit from a green lifestyle. In designing a  home, office or commercial space, what materials will we use and how will we heat, cool and light spaces? In a true green space, the ultimate goal is reducing energy consumption, reducing cost and maintaining and supporting the environment.

How does the designer take aspects of making a green home or office from the drafting table to reality? There are many aspects to include in this equation: geography, space, building codes, and how to make the space as green as it can be within certain guidelines. Lighting, heating and cooling, and energy sources come into play as well as plant based design to incorporate within areas of a home or office, to create energy and improve air quality and even create a food source.

Materials that aid in this concept are another major component of a green space. Using recycled materials, natural materials that are sustainable and durable are important. A truly green space considers every alternative to wasteful and high cost materials and strives to create a new and more affordable yet still high quality design.

Building codes and regulations also should be included within the design plan, in an urban environment especially. There are many regulations put in place long before sustainable homes or workspaces became popular, so the designer must adjust to these rules. How will the designer incorporate these new ideas into an old framework of codes and regulations? For example, the Client wants a “living” wall, of plants or an indoor vertical garden for a food source or air quality source, will their building allow this and how will it be maintained. These types of new features must be studied and researched and the designer must be sure that not only can it be installed but that it can also be maintained by the client.

I think that in the flurry of excitement around having a “green” space, sometimes the functionality factor can be neglected. When designing this type of home or office, it is more imperative that the research, development and execution of these new features be more examined and that the proper experts are involved in the installation of these green features. “Green” is not just a trend, when done successfully the Client’s daily life is improved and their home or office can truly be economically more sound and their well-being improved.






Losing our History…The Erasing of our Architectural Footprints

St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church NYC

St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church NYC

May’s Blog is dedicated to the memory of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava in the Flatiron District NYC, which was ravaged by a large and quick consuming fire Sunday May 1, 2016.

The church building was constructed in 1850-55 and was designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn in the English Gothic Revival Style. In 1968 the city of New York declared this church a landmark.

As one of the oldest churches in New York, Saint Sava served as not only a spiritual anchor for the community, but also an architectural anchor. In a neighborhood which one could say is plagued by developers who are eager to construct new residential and commercial spaces for their financial gain, Saint Sava served as an historic Architectural marker, a memory. In a fast changing cityscape this church was a reminder that our buildings are our memories, our reference to eras gone by and are preserved to remind future generations of how people constructed and ultimately how they lived in the past.

It has been a longstanding practice of war and territorial domination that the first destruction begins with a city’s buildings and landmarks. The oppressor seeks to erase the memory and footprint of the former ruling body, therefore erasing history so their domination can be seen as new. With Architectural treasures destroyed, a new regime, government, ruling body can form history in their own manner for future generations. If there is no Architectural footprint left, history is lost.

Our Architecture contains not only history but emotion; these structures have been created to evoke a feeling, to elicit an emotion for those who enter. As an Architect and Designer, buildings are the keepers of our history and evolution, and the destruction of this church is a tragedy, not only for the church family but for the community at large who received such joy when they passed, when they took a photo or entered to find some peace amid the art, painstaking details and beauty of the structure.








The Blueprint of Design …Combining the Technical, Creative and the Psychological to Achieve Success

IMG_1262Giusi Re Touch- GiusiBeing an Architect and  Interior Designer is not for the faint of heart. Design incorporates technical, creative, and psychological skill. It is with the harmony of these aspects that a good Designer flourishes.

The Technical: Studying Design and Architecture is a calling and a commitment to intense study and practice. It commands great passion and talent involving mathematics, geometry, science, art and creative inspiration. It is the combination of these elements that make a Designer of merit. There is also the need to keep up with design trends and adapting those trends to your particular style. In the profession of Interior Design, this is beneficial in creating Projects that are successful and having happy Clients.

The Creative: An  Architect/Interior Designer is an artist, a visionary, someone who strives to innovate in their chosen industry. Following a creative path is not easy; it comes with challenges and bumps along the way. Sometimes an intensely creative person suffers because their mind works in such a different way and so quickly. Sometimes this creative spirit is stalled, this is the creative resistance. Focusing too much on always having to produce can be stressful therefore stifling the freedom of creativity. It is the ability to manage the creativity in a business format that helps the designer through tough challenges.

The Psychological: An  Architect/Interior Designer deals with Clients, whether it is a family or an individual, a corporation or an organization. This requires diplomacy and highly evolved social skills. In dealing with Clients, a Designer must know, especially in Residential Design, the Design process is very personal. To be in someone’s home and make changes to improve their quality of life is deeply rewarding. Establishing the trust between Client and Designer is necessary.

Being an Architect/Designer is a courageous  profession. The Designer is an artist, a therapist, a problem solver, a knowledgeable source, and an innovator. What sets apart a good designer is the  balance in these skills.


The Science of Creating a Happy Client…

I think the most rewarding outcome of any Project is a Happy Client….but what is the Science and steps that the Designer applies to creating that “happy” Client?

When meeting with a Client to embark on a residential refresher or full renovation, we listen very carefully to what the Client’s needs are, what their desire is, what challenges they face and what budget they have in mind. From there we create a clear plan of action and a process that we convey to the Client  step by step,  in order to have their involvement and clear understanding  of the overall  Design and Construction process and to provide a line of communication and trust. I also can impart my vision and  encourage   the Client to dream beyond their expectations, to think of their space without the boundaries of any preconception. My goal is to help that Client understand the process of the work, from inception to fruition.

I like to emphasize 3 important concepts that I represent as a Designer:

  1. Luxury, not necessarily monetary, but luxury of comfort, of grandeur, of possibilities
  2. That our services are all inclusive, encompassing space layouts, lighting design,  material and furniture selection.
  3.  My rapport with the Client and the guidance and trust that I can instill in them to create a space of dreams.

While  there is no exact formula because each Project has its distinct voice, Client/ Designer relationships are based on mutual respect, interest in the Project, and trust. My firm ORA studio has launched a video called   “A Testimonial from a Happy Client” that really illustrates what goes into creating and maintaining a great relationship with a Client. I think this is a wonderful tool to demonstrate the world  of  ideas and great results attained  when you and your Client have that rapport.

Please take a moment and watch the video   

With every Project’s completion I am learning about the intricate details of personality, and how that relates to my profession. It is a Science and I  am like a Doctor of Interiors….I give  a diagnosis of what your home or space needs, I treat it, by creating a functional layout, using high quality materials, and I have a “bedside manner”, navigating  my Client through all the challenges that a Project may throw at us and assuring them at every step that the end result will be a success.

Please feel free to share and comment on the video! We love the feedback and to explore our website, click on the link  and get Inspired:

The Science of Serenity : Designing a Home Spa

140_Charles_St 005

Our Home is our sanctuary and there are certain rooms that are special because they honor privacy at the highest level. Homeowners are embracing more and more the notion of a space in their home that is beyond a traditional bathroom. There’s something transcendent about a luxurious Master Bathroom. The oasis from the outside world and a private area that can be transformed into a personal spa. Imagine a beautiful soaking tub with space for candles and objects, steam shower or personal sauna,  that evoke Serenity. When I meet with a new Client we discuss what is important to them, their needs, and their aspirations and the Master Bathroom is an area that is discussed in great length. Whether it be a large soaking tub, glass shower, or even personal sauna, these requests are important and coincide with the lifestyle of that Client.

I love to design a bathroom that feels spacious , one that is both inviting and  extremely functional. It is all in the materials and layout that maximize utility. There are some basic components that a good bathroom space should have: Beautiful and high quality materials (marble tiles, glass , Corian) comfortable counter space, wonderful lighting,  perfect color selection,  storage and most of all  privacy….

Some Clients really desire the feeling of a Home Spa created  to de-stress and  maintain their privacy and have the  luxury of a spa in their own residence.

As a Contemporary/ Minimal  Designer, I am drawn more to  light colors , especially when the space is really small,  but  ultimately the design of a bathroom/home spa either white or black or marble of any color, is the result of being complimentary to the rest of the space and the Client’s personal taste, which creates the ultimate “pampered” feeling, and exudes tranquility. I do like bold color that is well placed. The use of color is powerful. Every tone must work in symbiosis, it should not be jarring or off-putting. In my previous Blog about the Science of Color I speak about how color effects our moods and feelings… so it is imperative in creating the Home Spa, that color is used both artistically and functionally.

In creating a home spa, lighting is an essential part of the design which also has an emotional effect.  Lighting should be warm, welcoming and calming. A specific lighting design is necessary to achieve the full potential of the space. Are dimmable lights important? maybe around the tub? so that candlelight can be introduced to create a specific “mood”, should there be brighter light in the vanity for makeup application, shaving for the men….? These are all questions that are pertinent to building that Spa feeling…

In the image presented, this Master Bathroom is from a recent ORA studio Project in Manhattan. The large soaking tub is perfect for a peaceful bath to wash away the day’s worries. A separate stand up glass shower gives the Client a choice…and can also be used as a steamy escape from the day. There is space near the tub for products and candles if desired. Creative and personal touches can be displayed also incorporating elements from nature, be it flowers or wood or coral or a favorite scent.

When presented with the task to design a Spa at home for the Client, all these aspects need to be considered to create the ultimate private Spa. Yes, there is a “Science” to designing a proper Spa bathroom at home. In Design, there is a Science that accompanies the creative process, it is here in this blog that I will examine, color, light, décor, texture, shape …and what the Science is to creating winning and beautiful combinations for a wonderful home, office or commercial space.

For a Complete Visual Tour of ORA studio’s Projects

Click Here to Get Inspired: