Where I Work

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Design, Features, Harlem, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Harlem office of architectural lighting design firm Focus Lighting. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

After spending many years designing theatrical lighting, Paul Gregory decided to transition into the world of architectural lighting. He started his career working on nightclubs and in 1987, founded his own firm in his neighborhood of Harlem. Eight years later, Paul and his team at Focus Lighting garnered international recognization for their work on the Entel Tower in Santiago Chile, the world’s first automated color-changing building. Since then, the firm has grown to have 35 employees and nabs commissions such as the Times Square ball, Tavern on the Green, and the Waldorf Astoria (and that’s just here in NYC).

But through all their success, Focus has kept their offices in Harlem, now at 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, where their close-knit employees work collaboratively. The converted loft space has a unique light lab, similar to a black box theater, as well as a gallery space where the team can test out new means of digital architecture and video projects. 6sqft recently visited Focus Lighting to learn more about their fascinating work, tour the space, and chat with Focus partner and principal designer Brett Andersen and principal designer Christine Hope. Read more

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Features, little italy, Where I Work

The gallery is housed in a 19th-century firehouse, and later bakery, on Elizabeth Street. It has its own door to the garden next door

Shortly upon arriving in New York in the 1990s, Allan Reiver traveled to Coney Island with one goal in mind: find a shooting gallery. Reiver, who has always had a knack for finding art out of other people’s junk, bought one that same day from an older man who told him it had been boarded up since the 1930s when it became illegal to shoot live ammunition. Nearly 30 years later, the 10-foot high boardwalk game, still operational, sits in the back of the Elizabeth Street Gallery in Little Italy, where Reiver has housed unique artifacts and fine objects for nearly a decade.

Rare finds can also be found next to the gallery, scattered across a lush green space known as the Elizabeth Street Garden. Since 1991, Reiver has leased the land from the city, slowly transforming the lot with unique sculptures, columns, and benches, all plucked from estate sales. In 2012, the city revealed plans to replace the garden with a senior affordable housing complex, known as Haven Green, igniting a battle between garden advocates and affordable housing supporters. The City Council votes on the project Wednesday. Ahead of the decision, 6sqft toured Reiver’s gallery and the garden next door and spoke to him about building the green space and the plan to fight the Haven Green project in court.

More this way

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Central Park South, Features, Historic Homes, Midtown, Where I Work

When you think of the heart of Midtown, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not a turn-of-the-century mansion dripping with historic details. But nestled amongst the office buildings on West 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is just that. Designed by architects Warren & Wetmore of Grand Central fame, 10 West 56th Street has gone through several incarnations over its lifetime, from private residence (including the one-time home of Elizabeth Taylor!) to high-end retail space.

Its most recent transformation was helmed by Roxana Q. Girand, founder of real estate development firm Sebastian Capital. Wanting to merge her expertise and passion in commercial space, art, and beauty, she opened the Elizabeth Collective this past fall as part art pop-up event space, part permanent studio workspaces. 6sqft recently visited Roxana at the Collective to get a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible French Renaissance Revival building, see how she’s given the space a new life, and learn more about what’s to come.

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Bronx, Design, Features, Interiors, Interviews, Restaurants, Where I Work

Ice Scream, Asthetíque, Bronx Ice Cream

All photos courtesy of Costas Picadas

Last December, Ice Scream opened at the Mall at Bay Plaza, giving the Bronx its first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor. In addition to serving up futuristic frozen treats, the shop provides a fun and relaxing rest stop in between shopping. Founded by New Yorker Julien Albertini and Alina Pimkina, from Moscow, interior design firm Asthetíque specializes in luxury hospitality and residential design. Although developing a brand for a family business tailored to children was a totally new concept for Julien and Alina, the duo took on the design for Ice Scream and came up with a concept that “benefits society and makes peoples’ lives and businesses more beautiful and functional,” according to the designers.

Inspired by the 1980s Memphis design movement, Asthetíque has created a space for guests to have “plenty of Instagrammable moments.” From the ceiling’s coordinated light show to the fun mantras written in neon script throughout the 24-seat store (ie: “Ice Scream is better than therapy” and “Count your sprinkles, not your problems”), Ice Scream’s design not only provides a spot for families to make memories, but as a declaration that the “Bronx can contribute to the world of design.” For its innovative and playful ice cream parlor design, Asthetíque was a winner in the 46th annual IIDA Interior Design Competition this year. Ahead, see inside the eye-catching ice cream parlor and hear from Julien and Alina on the brand development process.

Get the scoop on Ice Scream

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Carroll Gardens, Features, Restaurants, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring Carroll Gardens nonprofit-restaurant Emma’s Torch. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

While volunteering at a Washington, D.C. homeless shelter a few years ago, Kerry Brodie witnessed how food can facilitate conversations among diverse groups of people. “If I have one background, someone else a different one, but we have this shared experience of cooking with our mothers and grandmothers, there’s got to be something else we can do to propel change,” Kerry said. With the idea to help those from disenfranchised communities find jobs and feel empowered doing so, she quit her job in public policy, moved to New York, and enrolled in culinary school.

A month after graduating, Kerry founded Emma’s Torch, first as a pop-up in Red Hook to now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Carroll Gardens, where it’s been for about a year. The nonprofit, named after Emma Lazarus whose poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, serves as a culinary school for refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of trafficking. Applicants who are accepted to the 12-week paid program not only learn how to cook in a high-pressure setting but also work on English language skills and career planning. 6sqft recently sat down with Kerry at Emma’s Torch ahead of a graduation dinner, a night where the students take over the menu and “cook from the heart.” Ahead, learn more about the mission of Emma’s Torch, the challenges of operating as a nonprofit, and Kerry’s plan to expand beyond New York City.

See the space and meet the founder of Emma’s Torch

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Features, Midtown, Restaurants, Where I Work

Noam Grossman, Upside Pizza, NYC restaurants

Photo courtesy of Molly Tavoletti

How do you heighten something as ubiquitous in New York City as a slice of pizza? It’s all about the dough. Noam Grossman, the founder of Upside Pizza, which opened in the Garment District in January, uses a 100 percent naturally leavened dough with a sourdough starter, unbleached flour, and a rise time of 72 hours. Grossman credits this mixture, along with the use of a brick-lined oven and in-house ingredients, for making Upside Pizza stand out among the hundreds of other slice joints found across the city. With a team consisting of dollar-slice gurus Eli and Oren Halai, of 2 Bros. Pizza, and pizza consultant Anthony Falco, of Roberta’s fame, Grossman’s pizzeria elevates the New York slice experience while retaining its grab-and-go roots.

“We’re not cranking out quick-made pies,” Grossman told 6sqft. “We’re working tirelessly to make our pies memorable, and the absolute best they can be.” And all of this is happening in a 330-square-foot joint on the busy corner of 39th Street, across from the Port Authority. Boasting a colorful, in-your-face aesthetic, the inspiration for Upside Pizza’s design came from “the nostalgia of being a kid in the ’90s when hip hop and sports reigned supreme, and local pizza parlors were places of community gathering,” he said. Ahead, hear from Grossman on Upside Pizza’s plan to perfect the slice, the pizzeria’s expansion, and his favorite slice joint in the city.

Meet Noam

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Architecture, Features, Financial District, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Battery Park office of architecture-interior design firm CetraRuddy. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

Husband-and-wife team Nancy Ruddy and John Cetra started architecture/design firm CetraRuddy in 1987, and after working from an office in Soho for 25 years, the firm moved to One Battery Park Plaza a year-and-a-half ago. Now with 100 employees, they had outgrown the space and wanted to use the move as an opportunity to revamp and improve the things that didn’t work. They were first attracted to the space’s light and views, but the firm was also able to occupy the entire floor, meaning they could design the entire office space, as well as the corridors.

After recently interviewing Nancy about CetraRuddy’s many successes, 6sqft paid a visit to their new offices, where we received a tour from Eugene Flotteron, Director of Architecture. Eugene has been with the firm for 17 years and has been a partner for five, so he’s had the opportunity to see them grow and transform over the years.

Take the tour

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Art, Features, Midtown, Where I Work

Art Students League, Where I Work, 215 West 57th Street

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and businesses of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re going inside the landmarked building of the Art Students League of New York in Midtown. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

In 1875, a group of young students broke away from the National Academy of Design and founded the Art Students League of New York to pursue a new and more modern method of art education. What started as a small group of rebellious artists in a 20-foot by 30-foot space, turned into an internationally-recognized, landmarked institution, which continues to set the standard for art training today. In its 144th year, the Art Students League’s mission has remained unchanged since its founding: to spread the language of art to anyone interested in learning.

The nonprofit has been located in the American Fine Arts Society Building at 215 West 57th Street since 1892. A designated New York City landmark, the French Renaissance-style building was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh, the architect behind the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota. Ken Park, the director of marketing and communication for the League, recently gave 6sqft a behind-the-scenes tour of the historic building and shared some insight into this storied establishment.

See inside

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Features, Nomad, Where I Work

ICRAVE, Where I Work, Flatiron

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and businesses of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re going inside innovative design firm ICRAVE’s Nomad studio. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

According to the founder of hospitality design firm ICRAVE, Lionel Ohayon, it’s not about the materials used in a project, but the memories created. “I always say, people may hate or like our spaces, but the most important thing is that they remember them,” the Toronto-native told us. Through design, the innovative studio focuses on creating memorable experiences for its clients, a long and varied list that includes the Dallas Cowboys and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The firm’s mission is ingrained in the culture at ICRAVE, a 40-member team consisting of graphic designers, architects, and public relations pros, an office where creativity is fostered through a mixture of collaboration and independence. The open layout of the studio makes this work culture possible, with custom-designed doors and partitions to transform the space into however necessary. On a recent tour of ICRAVE’s studio near Madison Square Park, Ohayon told 6sqft about the firm’s wide range of projects and how his team turns ideas into unforgettable adventures.

See iCRAVE’s studio and meet Lionel

Design, DUMBO, Where I Work

Bjarke Ingels Dumbo, Bjarke Ingels Group, Bjarke Ingels office, 45 Main Street Dumbo

Photos by Max Touhey

Bjarke Ingels Group has certainly lived up to its moniker BIG, with studios in New York, Copenhagen, and London, 17 partners, more than 500 employees, and roughly 50 projects currently in development. To keep up with this astonishing growth, the 14-year-old firm recently moved its U.S. headquarters to a vibrant new space in Dumbo’s 45 Main Street. The 50,000-square-foot office fits 250+ employees and boasts cool features like Brooklyn Bridge views, a private outdoor terrace, chromatized steel doors, and tons of furniture and lighting by Danish brand and BIG collaborator KiBiSi.

Take the tour!

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