This project was an opportunity for our client and Marc Whipple to enter into a true collaborative adventure. Julie Cantor had in mind for years a modern take on a NY loft space with an open volume, skylights, and very little strict division between rooms. A friend thought that sounded like a house she had seen – Whipple Russell Architects’ Summit House in Beverly Hills. Julie loved the house, and hoped for a smaller version to fit on her suburban lot.
Ms. Cantor, founder and designer of the Harlen Collection, aptly described as works of art for the art of work, was upfront about her intention to choose the finishing materials and execute the interior design herself. She was impressed by the promise made on the W^R site; that close listening to the client is first and foremost – and so right from the start Julie’s vision began to take shape. A step through the wide pivot front door of black steel reveals the lively excitement of a modern live/work gallery space. Bright white, dramatic black, and colorful artwork are all illuminated by a central skylight designed by Marc and Julie that brings the light down three stories. Just past the glass-sided staircase follows a striking all-black kitchen with a 16 ft. x 4 ft. island of polished Italian black granite. The downstairs atrium gallery pops with color from a wall-sized commissioned work by graffiti artist James Goldcrown. At one end of this below grade space is a cozy big-screen viewing area and bar with Quartzite countertops, and down the hall towards the back of the house is a weight room and guest bed and bath. Ms. Cantor tells us that Marc was a patient and skillful mentor for her during her steep learning curve, but we say it was our breadth of knowledge meeting her verve, can-do ethic, and genuine love of design that made this a joyful collaboration.