From the new Pace Gallery in Manhattan to the private residence of Donna Karan, from the interior design of the Edition Hotel in West Hollywood to the first collaboration with the Italian luxury yacht brand Benetti, all the way to the Norm restaurant at the Brooklyn Museum. The projects by the studio Bonetti / Kozersky Architecture range through different contexts, while conserving the minimal elegance that is their stylistic trademark. A red thread that winds through the pursuit of functional solutions that suggest an entire design aesthetic, as the architects Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozersky explain.
Donna Karan house, Turks & Caicos – Photo © Luca Pioltelli
Enrico, how did you meet, and how did the idea of opening your studio in New York come about?
We met in the 1990s, when we were both working in the studio of the architect Peter Marino in New York. We realized that we worked very well together, and a few years later, in 2000 – when we had a chance to design a new apartment for the fashion designer Donna Karan – we opened our own studio in New York.
How would you define your design aesthetic?
Our objective has always been to find functional solutions, preferably of a spatial type, to improve use and quality of life, or to solve operative problems. Once the solutions have been identified, we let them guide us in the aesthetic aspects, and because of the unique nature of problems, we always arrive at a particularly original result.
Plateau collection by Bonetti / Kozersky Architecture
Your projects include exclusive private residences, art galleries, yachts, hotels and private schools. What are the significant elements that express your idea of architecture?
We work a lot, with a process of continuous editing, to simplify the architectural image as much as possible, attempting to mask complexity in favor of natural elegance.
You work in close contact with clients, to make their dreams come true. What have been the most original and unexpected requests?
We have clients that are very different from one another, because by choice we have avoided specializing in a single architectural discipline. So we often receive very particular requests. The most original, perhaps, came from the writer Tom Clancy, who wanted to have a gun range inside a large apartment we were creating for him. We designed it in all its details, but word of the idea leaked to the press and the range was not inserted in the finished project.
Pace Gallery, New York
You have overseen the design of the new Pace Gallery in Manhattan. How has the Chelsea facility been organized? It seems like a real museum.
Pace wanted to construct a building that would contain their galleries, which were scattered in different zones of Manhattan, and they wanted it to reflect a new way of showing and selling art. They called on various architects for proposals, and in the end they chose ours…
What is your idea of hospitality, expressed in hotels like the Edition in Los Angeles and the Public in New York?
They are both projects by the hotelier Ian Schrager, with whom we have worked for many years. I think our contribution can be seen in the informal care that goes into the interiors and the furnishings.
You have designed one of the most prestigious private schools in New York: Avenues, facing the High Line. Did the heritage of the rail line have an influence on your project?
The building was an industrial structure designed by Cass Gilbert in the 1920s, along the rail line in Manhattan near the port (today’s High Line). We concentrated on respecting the building, and we have underscored some structural aspects that are unfortunately no longer common today, like the columns that become slimmer with every floor. These conserved items also have an educational function.
Enrico, one of your teachers was an outstanding architectural master: Aldo Rossi. What do you remember most about his teachings? Where can his influence be glimpsed in your works?
What I remember most: the idea that architecture stems from the site, the context.
Tod’s, Miami – Photo © Luca Pioltelli
Discreet luxury and warm minimalism are aspects evident in all your projects. What elements to you seek and emphasize to create this refined harmony?
We try to use humble materials, for functional ends, not out of aesthetic ambition. We like to make them noble, utilizing their imperfections as a sign of beauty.
What are you working on at present?
In this moment we are working on projects that move in many different directions: homes, hotels, restaurants, new yachts.
Do you have a dream, in the field of architecture?
To make more private homes in Italy.
How do you imagine New York in the future?
Hopefully with less traffic…