“Brooklyn Modern”

by Nalina

Brooklyn has a distinct energy, a little tricky to pin down but easy to appreciate when walking down Smith Street, gallery-hopping in DUMBO, or riding the L to Bedford Street. It involves a strong sense of individuality, a deliberate informality, and the ability to mix different, seemingly unmixable styles. Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design captures this energy just right.

The book documents recent residential projects in the borough: interior decoration, gut remodels and new houses. The designs reflect the smaller, lower building types here, as well as the industrial heritage of some neighborhoods. The houses and apartments are characterized by a soft, slightly worn patina. Driven by economy, necessity, and green consciousness, many designers have repurposed old materials and furniture. Weathered brick walls, aged wood floors, and vintage fixtures give the modestly-scaled interiors warmth and character. They also shape an ideal backdrop for contemporary furniture and artwork.

The houses have been photographed in natural light and without much styling. So there are toys on the floor, electrical cords on the countertops, jackets on the backs of chairs, and stacks of books just about everywhere. This open, unfussy attitude seems central to a Brooklyn style. The house exteriors are handsome and restrained; they don’t call attention to themselves. The interiors are fashionable and habitable; they’re not pied-a-terres or designer showcases. All the designs in the book are real homes for couples and young families. If there is a unique Brooklyn style it’s about just this, shaping comfortable spaces that fit one’s needs rather than conforming to some preconceived notion of luxury or style.

Diana Lind, photography by Yoko Inoue, Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design. New York: Rizzoli, 2009.

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