January 13, 2020

Jewel Box by Messana O’Rorke: 2019 Best of Year Winner for Small Apartment

Even luxury can come in small packages. Take this 430-square-foot studio in the West Village. Its penthouse views stretch to the Hudson River, but once Brian Messana and Toby O’Rorke entered the scene and assessed the interiors, everything in the apartment had to go. Since founding Messana O’Rorke in 1996, the architects have been refining an essentialism that provides visual stimulation through compelling materials and meticulous construction. That approach is evident here, particularly in the bathroom, where Carrara marble forms the envelope and the extra-long vanity, as well as in the storage walls and wide floor planks throughout, both in oak.

The queen-size bed is contained in a cube of unlacquered brass that will patina over time. Photography by Eric Laignel.

“We’ve also been working with the idea of living with space-defining volumes that you move through and that contain all the storage you might need,” Messana says. But they had never done a volume to sleep in. “Rethinking the classic four-poster,” O’Rorke notes, they devised a 7-foot cube containing a queen-size bed with cabinetry underneath. The hinged box, which floats free of the surrounding walls at one end of the living area, is lined in gray-dyed cowhide and clad in panels of unlacquered brass (which coordinates with the bathroom’s sink and shower fittings). This may be micro-living, but it makes a big impact.

> Read Messana O’Rorke’s feature from the September 2019 issue of Interior Design

Carrara marble outfits the bathroom. Photography by Eric Laignel.
Lined in dyed Italian cowhide, the volume hinges open on three sides. Photography by Eric Laignel.

> See more from the December/January 2020 issue of Interior Design

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