“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art” ― Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Mobility by design; a space to retire but not to slow down.
“Those with the skill to translate their creative ideas into timeless, elegant pieces of art possess an incredible talent I have always admired,” said lead designer Lilian H. Weinreich, on completion of her latest architectural project to redesign a 170sf master bathroom with walk-in dressing room, in the famed Hampshire House in NYC. “So creating a space for Connie, an artist of considerable note and critical acclaim was, at first, a little daunting.”
Yet the brief offered additional challenges to just pleasing Connie’s strong sense of personal taste. The space not only had to meet Connie’s aesthetic needs but her physical ones too. In her 80’s, the New York- Connecticut based artist needed to incorporate full accessibility into the layout, a requirement sadly compounded two weeks into the design of the project when she fell and broke her hip. “We wanted to avoid any kind of ‘hospital feel’ at all costs.” Said Lilian, who worked hard to combine Connie’s artistic sensibilities and ‘joie de vivre’, into a functional - easy to navigate and to maintain – area, that could also accommodate her art collection. “It was essential that Connie feels soothed and nurtured here; a space to feel safe, but also to enjoy her artistic endeavors.” The reimagined 170sf space successfully integrates a clever mix of custom-designed pieces to support Connie’s mobility requirements, with colors and materials carefully selected to show off her vibrant impressionistic artwork, developed over seven decades.
Painting and creating art using accomplished techniques in gouache and Japanese paper, as accomplished techniques in gouache and Japanese paper, as well as oil works on canvas, Connie has sold scores of paintings to admiring patrons and has had numerous solo and group shows including Como, Italy; Litchfield, Connecticut, and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. As well as the beauty of the natural world Connie is inspired by artists such as Matisse, Van Gogh, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keefe, and the German expressionists.
The existing bathroom footprint was gut-renovated and enlarged and all plumbing fixtures including the vanity, shower and water closet relocated. A full-height, easy-glide sliding glazed bathroom door and sliding high tech shower enclosure door eliminate obtrusive door swings. Specialist ADA-compliant grab bars on all walls with matching towel bars provide simple geometric forms, belying their practical nature. Over 85% of the finish material is a blond-striated, strand bamboo - a rapidly renewable and robust material, three times the hardness of traditional red oak flooring. As the prominent feature it lends a light, organic feel, further enhanced using conical caged-marine light fixtures which throw down dramatic light, sharpening the natural patina of the bamboo.
Said Connie, “For me, design is all about the visually powerful. I love bold colors and big themes; motifs that reflect the beauty of the world around us – in particular nature - something I have always been passionate about. So my brief to Lilian H. Weinreich Architects was to use the sustainable natural materials so important to my paintings, and which are kinder to the planet.”
The final result is an ingenious blend of style, sustainability and functionality; perfect for a prolific artist showing no signs of slowing down - a constant source of surprise to Lilian, “Despite her brief set back, Connie remained exuberant throughout the project and we had many a lively debate over the bright red she desired as a paint finish for the remaining wall space. I felt strongly this would detract from the essence of the bamboo cladding and close-in the open and heightened sculptural feel of the space. So I was both delighted and amazed when Connie agreed to work with a master decorative plasterer, in spite of her convalescence. Together Eli and Connie mixed colours in her Litchfield County studio in Connecticut until the right solution was found.”
Red or no red, it’s clear that together, the artistic Connie and headstrong Lilian merged their collective creativity to create a truly clever space as befitting a gracious octogenarian artist.