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October/November 2007


FEATURES

Italian Influence
By Liz Arnold
Photographs by Mick Hales

ADMIRERS OF ITALIAN MODERNIST FURNITURE INVITE THEIR ARCHITECT FRIEND TO HELP THEM CREATE A CLEAN—LINED HOME IN THE WAINSCOTT WOODS

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Sure, it has gables like many of its neighboring Wainscott properties, but the weekend getaway that architect Will Sharp designed for a Manhattan couple is anything but a traditional shingled cottage. Clad in an unusual rain screen--horizontal planks of sustainable meranti wood (from Malaysian forests) affixed to vertical beams, which protects the plywood walls underneath--the four—bedroom house could pass for some kind of contemporary art installation surrounded by the property's oaks and pines. It's everything that the clients, Lon Hamaekers, a dealer of predominantly Italian Modernist furnishings, and his partner, Douglas Allen, had hoped for.

"It's like a sculpture," says Allen, an old friend of Sharp's. "But at first I was pretty skeptical about whether or not it would come together." His uncertainty was due in part to the existing 1970s chalet—like house that was sitting on the property when they bought it--a structure far from the architectural gem they'd envisioned to display their exquisite furniture. The three considered tearing down the house altogether, but Sharp had a more cost—efficient idea. "We kept the roofline, part of the foundation and the chimney," the architect explains, "but we considerably modified everything in between."

The new plan is the result of a successful collaboration. "We complemented each other with different voices of reason," continues Sharp. Hamaekers, who is particularly drawn to sleek furniture designed by Milanese architects such as Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi and Guillermo Ulrich, felt strongly about keeping the house in sync with the pieces he knew would fill it. But there was also an environmental interest. "We made the decision to build in scale to the lives we wanted to live, and in scale to the neighborhood," says Hamaekers. "We didn't want to build more than we'd use and waste the world's energy."

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