Acclaimed interior designer David Rockwell and his family's New York loft is flexible and transformable, filled with informal, communal spaces.
David Rockwell's New York loft is a place to gather and share
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
I live in a loft in Tribeca, New York City, with my wife and two kids. I've lived here for 14 years.
What made you choose this property?
I really loved the open, flexible nature of my Tribeca loft space. The rooms and walls can transform easily, so we have a lot of informal, communal space. I also absolutely love our rooftop, and can't express how much outdoor space in Manhattan means to me.
What does your home say about you?
I think it exhibits my love of celebratory, transformable space. I think it also shows how much importance I put on sharing and communal experiences, which are also central focus points of my professional career.
Is there anything you would change about it, or anything you wished you had done differently?
What's great about this space is that it is very easy to change, so it can evolve along with the needs of our family. We just renovated the kids' bedrooms now that they are nine and 11, to better complement their ever-changing interests.
What is the key to creating a happy home?
I know for my family, it's important to create spaces where we can both be alone and share experiences together. Maybe the most important thing is to have a comfortable space where the family can all gather over a meal.
Which item would no home of yours be without?
The only item that has followed me to every place I have ever moved - and I've moved a lot. - is my upright Steinway piano. I could not leave without it.
When did you start collecting kaleidoscopes and what do you like about them?
I have been collecting kaleidoscopes for over 20 years and have a large collection both at home and in my office. I have kaleidoscopes of every different shape, size and colour, but they all create the most amazing, imaginative hands-on experiences. There are always endless variations and permutations that happen, which never cease to surprise and amaze me.
Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?
There isn't one place. We have really amassed all the objects in our home over the course of our lives. My house has a medley of mementoes of my past, my travels and Rockwell Group projects.
Do you incorporate elements of your work into your home, or do you like to keep your domestic environment separate?
Of course. I have a Hairspray print by Al Hirschfeld, photographs by Michael Palladino (who has contributed to a number of our Nobu projects), and a tapestry wall hanging made up of favourite fabrics from various projects, which was a 40th birthday present from some of my colleagues at Rockwell Group.
What are you working on right now?
We're working on fantastic hotel projects like Yotel in Times Square, W Hotels in Paris and Singapore, the Hotel Bel Air in California, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Centre at the Lincoln Centre, a Broadway play called Houdini, a Nobu restaurant in Doha, a new Andaz resort in Hawaii, as well as many other projects, from hospitals to products to branding strategy.
What inspires your work?
Theatre has been an enormous influence in my life and work since I was very young. It opened my eyes to the power of design in creating compelling narratives and emotional connections between people and their environments. From growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, I have also been very interested in the idea of public space as an urban living room. So, in many of my designs, there is an emphasis on public, communal gathering places where people can connect, and on imaginative environments that engage all the senses.
Who are your favourite designers?
My greatest influences have been Boris Aronson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudi and Joseph Urban.
How would you describe your interior style?
We don't have a set vocabulary, which allows us to approach each new project with a fresh perspective. We always focus on creating immersive environments and experiences that engage people through unexpected details, a variety of textures, innovative and crafted materials and a relationship to the specific context of the space.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I am somewhat addicted to the energy and endlessly changing spectacles and inspirations in New York. I can't imagine living somewhere else. I love travelling all over the world with my work, however, as it is so important to experience and open oneself up to the abundance of talent and collaborators and innovations happening beyond my hometown.
How do you like to relax?
I like to relax at home with my family, either in Tribeca, or at our home in upstate New York. Our roof in New York was constructed specifically so I would have a place to go to at the end of the day to relax and unwind, with a chair that rotates 360 degrees, so I can have a panoramic view of this amazing city.
What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room or living space?
When I renovated my nine-year-old son's room last year, we used multipurpose, multifunctional elements and furniture to transform the small space into an unexpected, adventurous landscape. For a larger room, I like to use a mixture of furniture and features, and transformable and personal crafts and accents, which can easily be changed and updated.
David Rockwell is the founder of the New York-headquartered Rockwell Group. For more information, visit www.rockwellgroup.com