FORM on Design: Cecilia Dupire

Swedish-born Cecilia Dupire is the Principal and Owner of Cezign, an association of designers and image creators working on modern, contemporary interiors and exteriors. She has worked on projects for the W Hotel and Equinox and calls Philip Michael Wolfson, former head of design for Zaha Hadid, as one of her mentors. Here, she talks about her latest project, a modern renovation of music company S.I.N.’s outdated New York City offices.

One of the key elements of the brief was to create a flexible space that could adapt to different uses. Can you discuss how you achieved this goal?

First thing was to open the space up to recreate a beautiful pure architectural volume which would allow a wide range of flexibility both in use and for the people using the space at the same time.  It was also important to create a connection with the outside world, in order to open the space and work against the dark, enclosed feeling it had prior to remodeling.  I also wanted to play on the assets of having an outside environment in the middle of New York City.  To make the connection even greater between the indoors and the outside, we really opened up the big south wall of windows.  Inside, there are movable walls and furniture to let as much light or as little light as the inhabitant requires or wants.

How did you infuse the vibe and culture of the music industry in the design?

Design and music are two expressions of creativity that appeal to different senses that shares many commonalities. By transcending functionality and flexibility to reflect the positive and creative vibes of these two art forms, I have tried to express the freedom of the music culture into the design.

LED lighting is a key component to the design. Can you talk a little bit about how the lighting created drama for the space?

The lighting is used as a tool to enhance the architectural volumes and change the spiritual mood of the space by modifying the way one uses the installation of them. The space should be used as a gallery as well as a night club or for seminars/workshops.

Outside, the lighting helps to create a drama and interest by enlightening and focusing on a space that otherwise would have been seen as a loss of space rather as of now turned into a bar/seating area for social interaction.

You custom designed much of the furniture. Can you talk a little about the process and specifically about the most critical pieces?

We made custom-design desks that can be configured in a number of ways to serve the different meetings and events, as well as serve the number of people that are taking part.  We also made sliding walls, to create intimate spaces when needed, and larger ones when it needs to be more opened-up.  And, the modular furniture can also be moved around the space or stacked, depending on usage.  This was all critical to maximizing every inch, and making it the space as flexible as possible.

Pops of color stand out. Please tell us a little more about your design choices.

The project had a strict budget and time frame to work around as well as a tight space. So there was a lot of careful planning around the whole project—no room for waste.   To produce the most modular concept, I felt the  best solution was to design most of the furniture specifically custom to the space, making it would be light enough to be multi-use in every space,  flexible to use both inside and outside and be of durable quality but yet at a decent price point.

The choice of color is always important both to create rhythm and unity within the different layouts, as well as enhancing perspectives and awareness of spatial organization. This creates a certain whimsical element of surprise in how the space is utilized.

Were there any specific challenges you had to overcome in this project?

To convince some people that breaking down walls and opening up the space would be the right way to go, and to turn a small terrace into something functional and embracing yet surprising with a small space and a small budget.

How do you approach a project that has a small budget as opposed to one with a larger budget?

With a more flexible mind. Ready to use my creative abilities in a broader manner to achieve strong and thought-provoking visual solutions. 

How does your Swedish culture affect the way you approach design?

In its purity. The joy of working within confined spaces. Never seeing them as too small but rather as a possibility to evolve a new way of thinking.

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