“But how do you start?”
This simple question got us thinking. It wasn’t about how to design something specific, it wasn’t even about how to design an apartment as a whole, it was about how to start designing an apartment as a whole. It was about the small slice of time where the design begins.
As we were remembering all of our projects, the answer cleared up. We start with a client’s wish that seems like something that can’t be done. Sometimes because the space is too small, sometimes because building structure is not flexible enough (with only load-bearing walls and nothing to tear down), sometimes because the client wants two contradictory things.
The “impossible wish” is a priority because it is also the reason clients contact us in the first place. Without it, most of them would probably do the remodel by themselves.
That approach is based on our honest belief design solves problems.
And design does solve problems.
You see, when an artist came to Malte Wittenberg Architektur and STUDIO BLB (STUDIO Brühlmann Loetscher Buson f.k.a. RAUM404) requesting a design that would make an apartment work as both a home and an exhibition space, they were like: “Okay, no problem.”
But bringing together a function as private as a home with a function as public as an exhibition space is, at first, quite impossible.
So we had to show it to you. Becuase maybe you want an office in your apartment, or a daycare center for toddlers, or a flower shop. And we want you to know it can be designed.
In this apartment, it is designed with basically one element.
The double functionality of the apartment is shown in this unfolding fitted furniture that allows quick transformation of the room, depending on the situation.
The home ambiance is peaceful, warm and neat, while the black color of walls and panels, combined with elements made of steel and copper, enhance the public function of the space.
The concept is amazing, but the execution of the idea is absolutely breathtaking. The thing about good design is the fact you understand it without the explanation. And that’s the genius of this bathroom.
A bathroom is the most private part of any home, but also a necessary part of a public space. For the resident, it’s weird to share a bathroom with the unknown visitors, and for the visitor, it is weird to step into someone’s private bathroom.
So even though this public space is placed in a private apartment, the bathroom for visitors is designed as if it was placed in a night club or a restaurant. And that’s the key. To design a space that combines more functions, you have to think about the comfort of all users.
A shower is, of course, separated. It is not meant to be used by visitors. It is hidden behind the mirrored partition (mirroring the entrance space and the bathroom), displayed only during the private time. When the panels are open and the light inside is on, the shower is visible through a translucent mirror, thus unifying both the private and public spaces.
However, the architects didn’t put their concept above the functionality of the home. They designed a second bathroom, intended for private use only, with light, warm materials to functionally oppose the other.
A living room area is full of natural light coming from the huge windows and winter-balcony made with handmade cemented mosaic tiles. It is clean and spacious enough to host exhibitions and public events.
The wall with two lateral openings breaks up the area and divides it from the kitchen. The kitchen is made of white cabinets with a black granite niche matching the working surface – an over scaled granite table (275 x 80 cm) with triangular steel legs, designed to be easily moved and multi-functional.
The main issue is solved through every detail of the apartment. The simplicity of the interior, the monochrome palette, the lightness, the natural materials, the design of the fitted furniture… are deliberate. The answer to the client’s request. They create a warm ambiance for the home and neutral background for the exhibition space.
And yes, we love how the kitchen looks, and the black bathroom is so cool, and the over sized table is stunning, but wouldn’t you agree that, above all, design solved a problem?