SO — IL designed fashion designer Derek Lam’s new center of operations, in a landmarked loft building on Crosby Street in Manhattan. The client needed to integrate the company’s core functions: prototype production, design atelier, private showroom, and corporate headquarters. The fluid and spontaneous nature of Derek Lam’s studio, juxtaposed with the quintessential block-deep SoHo loft immediately presented the opportunity to imagine a productive connection between seemingly unrelated spaces; between the stable and the flexible.
The initially contradicting desire for both open spaces and substantial privacy is achieved by devising a series of adjoining realms—gently separated by slender walls—connected through a sequence of large portals. Framed with thin steel tubes, the 2-1/2” thick wall is finished with bee waxed plaster to reflect light. This creates a calibrated environment of sheens and shades, where designers, administrative personnel and production staffs collaborate. Egress, storage and other support program is organized in a monochromatic zone along the southern wall behind a single continuous polyurethane partition. Its dark reflective surface bounces daylight deep into the space to further emphasize the extraordinary span from Crosby Street to Broadway. Through stripping the loft building —previously used as a boxing gym, down to its bare essence, and introducing a few measured architectural elements, we were able to create an environment where the existing subtly gets embedded in the new.