Young at Heart
Annie Block -- Interior Design, 5/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
firm:koko architecture + design
site: new york
Ah, Scandinavia. Its very mention evokes serenity, nature, and fuss-free simplicity. Step into the gallery More North, and those characteristics are immediately apparent.
"It's a Nordic setting transplanted to the middle of New York," Koko Architecture + Design principal Adam Weintraub explains. The gallery's three owners are also trustees of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and the 3,800-square-foot bi-level space is a manifestation of their interest in design and art from their native countries and love for children of all nationalities.
Design concepts don't usually grow on trees, but Koko's did, particularly birches. "They reference not only the landscape of Scandinavia but also the use of that wood in the region's modern architecture and design," says Mishi Hosono, Koko's other principal and Weintraub's wife. Gutting the interior, the firm removed all the dark-stained oak paneling and flooring.
Most of the floor is now poured concrete, tinted white like a swath of ice. The floor in the rear, which hosts bimonthly art exhibits, is white-painted oak. "It helps differentiate the spaces," Hosono adds. As do the rear's paper-thin floating steel walls.
In the center of the stairwell connecting the two levels stands a cluster of birch trunks. Closer inspection reveals that each of the 25-foot-high trunks is actually a composite of several trunk sections. "The tops of real birches that tall get very thin," Weintraub says. "This way, we kept the diameters consistent, plus we didn't have to worry how to get such big trees in."
In the downstairs playroom, the Alvar Aalto tables and stools are for sale. The tree-shape cutouts in a partition are purely for hide-and-seek.