January 16, 2019

The mural that greets visitors to 1133 is from the American Renaissance period.  From 1876 to 1917, this classical revival art movement celebrated civic virtue with a profusion of public murals presenting Greek allegory.

The St. James mural was painted by Arthur Brounet, a nationally famous muralist of the Golden Age whom we’ll cover in a future article.  His work appeared in fine homes, theatres, and civic buildings, and commercial structures in New York City and beyond.

The St. James mural features three beautiful goddesses stunningly arrayed in a strong classically balanced composition.  For all its formal symmetry and balance, the mural has tremendous movement and energy created by the limbs and garments of its three imposing figures.

In the center is the Greek Goddess Athena (known to the Romans as Minerva) flanked by two virginal attendants, possibly the vestal virgins.  Athena/Minerva is associated with a shield, owl, olive tree/branch (while there are no owls in the mural, it is interesting that there are so many on the exterior of the building).  Athena is the patroness of learning and wisdom, guardian of cities, and a powerful goddess of war and peace.

Athena is also the patroness of arts and crafts which is fitting because the St. James was, from the outset, meant to be a building for architects and other creative and building trades professionals.  In fact, Bruce Price, the architect of the St. James, and Daniel Burnham, the architect of the Flatiron Building and the famous Chicago Columbia Exposition, had offices in 1133 Broadway.

The figure on the left holds the fasces, a cylindrical bundle of wooden rods out of which protrudes the head of an ax.  The fasces is a symbol of power and unity as well as magisterial and regal authority.  Unfortunately, it became a beloved symbol of “fascists,” who derived their name from this once-respected classical symbol of strength.  With this imagery, the figure on the right represents a guardian of hearth and domestic life.  On the right, the figure carrying the flame is a symbol of life, the undying fire.

The resulting composition when taken together was probably meant to represent the best values of the ever-victorious America — a fine fusion of commerce, culture, and that uniquely American phenomenon, domestic excellence.

In 1896, virtually any well-educated person would have a good idea of who these women were and would intuit the mural’s meaning.  Today, it may not be so clear, but there is still a lesson for us in the three fabulously beautiful portraits.  So the next time you arrive for work, look up, because a century later the mural like all art, can lift our spirits and inspire us to achieve more.  The goddesses might also calm you:  Have you ever seen such serenity, confidence and strength?

July 25, 2017

From his 1133 Broadway office, four floors up from the sidewalks of NoMad, Barry Goralnick has a bird’s eye view of the city he says inspires him. “Have you ever looked at the façade of this this building, and the surrounding buildings?” Barry said on a recent visit to his office, “they are absolutely beautiful.” He finds inspiration everywhere, because he looks at it with a broad humanistic eye. This eye has helped in all aspects of his work – from light fixtures inspired by stairway railings to interior designs based off of vintage store finds.  The city in which he resides and the places he travels are the muse for his career.

Widely Accomplished

Goralnick is an architect, interior designer, product designer, and lecturer, and theater producer. His lengthy job description and unique ability to create timeless designs have brought him great success. He works alongside a small team to create beautiful interiors and homes, as well as products — ranging from lighting to furniture, carpet and fabrics (fabrics not official yet) — that are manufactured by some of the leading home furnishing companies in the country.   For his product designs, he has won the “Best of Year Award” and has been nominated several years running for Innovation Awards. He also has a coveted spot in Rizzoli’s highly regarded Interior Design Master Class edited by Carl Dellatore. Perhaps most impressive beyond all this is Goralnick’s welcomed ability to describe complex design theories and numerous successes in a simple, humble way.

barry goralnick

The Influences of a Broad Education

A graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor’s of Arts, with a degrees in English Literature and Fine Art before heading to Harvard University for a Master of Architecture, Goralnick strongly supports liberal arts education in schools.  “I studied literature, history, science, and I used to paint,” Goralnick said. “I encourage young people to study liberal arts first.  You need to be a deeper person and learn about as much as possible.  When I went to grad school, there were people like me and then there were people that had spent their whole life just  studying architecture.  The more you know about the world, the more you bring to your designs”

He cites the instructors he had along the way as some of his biggest influences. “I had amazing teachers,” Barry said. “When I was an undergraduate, I was the only one in my class who went to architecture school; we weren’t geared towards that.   But I had an architecture history teacher; he was just wonderful,. and he inspired me to choose my path” At Harvard I was lucky to study with Frank Gehry, Neil McKinnell, Fred Koetter and be critiqued by Philip Johnson, Charles Gwathmey, and Harry Cobb of I. M. Pei and Partners.

Barry has not stopped learning. Today, he considers Jim Druckman, president and CEO of the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue, to be one of his greatest  influences. “He has mentored many of New York’s top designers, Barry said. The two met when Druckman hosted a design competition requiring the creation of a new furniture or lighting piece. Barry entered a table and a light fixture and both were winning designs.  He credits the beginning of his success in product design as a result of this competition twenty years ago.    

For this reason, Barry has taken it upon himself to help aspiring designers. “I try to give back by lecturing to students,” he said.  He has spoken at high profile design schools such as Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, the New School, and New York University, as well as at NEOCON in Chicago.

Barry Goralnick Lithgow Living Room

What is Blended Modern?

While he is working to secure the future of design by assisting the next generation of designers, he is also changing the way design is viewed today. The tagline of Barry Goralnick Architecture & Design  is “Blended Modern,” indicating a style which Barry describes as neither classic nor uber futuristic, but rather a look with familiarity and some 50s and 60s inspiration.  The idea came about when he discovered an ambiguity in the projects he was designing.  “Sometimes a client will say ‘I love my room,’ and a friend will ask me what style it is,” Barry said.  “It’s not really any one particular style. It is an amalgam of different eras.  It is putting together things in unexpected ways.  It is your own personal style.  It is Blended Modern.”

Barry went on to explain the importance of Blended Modern in his own career and the unique way it fits into the market. “When I started designing product I realized that there were a lot of people with a very set style. I felt that there was a place in the middle where we could design things that work well with other styles; Blended Modern came out of that.”

The Blended Modern concept becomes crystal clear to anyone stepping into Barry’s office.  No clear theme can be assigned to the room, but it flows effortlessly.  Vibrant colors pop throughout the room, from purple chairs sitting against dark wood floors to a bold orange lamp.  Chandeliers from his own line hang from the ceiling, subtly drawing together the entire room.  Past and future design projects are seen in sketches, mood boards and fabric swatches hanging from the walls. The beauty in the work is his ability to assemble these disparate pieces into a common theme, which might otherwise be invisible to others.

Along with being a showroom for the blended modern style, Barry’s office highlights his favorite thing about design work: its tangible result.  “The thing that excites me most about everything that I do is to be able to produce tangible things that spring from your imagination ,” he said. “You come up with ideas and put them on paper, and then, you have a reality. When you’re an architect or designer, you can actually walk around inside your design.That is always thrilling”

Product Design

Currently, Barry has partnerships with name brands such as Circa Lighting, Ferrell + Mittman Furniture, Stark Carpets, Vanguard Furniture, Kichler Lighting, and design a line of bespoke furniture and lighting.  “When I started doing interiors, there were always pieces I wanted that didn’t exist, so I started designing them,” Barry said.  His business shifts between the work he does designing homes and interiors and the work he does designing product lines for his partnerships. Product design, he describes, is not as easy as his friends believe it to be. “The process is finding the best companies to design for,” Goralnick explained.  “Then  there are contracts, presentations, editing the line, going back and forth approving prototypes   Then you go to Markets, and design your own showroom space.  You meet retailers and train the sales staff.  And I travel around the country meeting and lecturing to designers, editors, and the end-users.  Nobody understands the amount of work there is in product design unless they do it.”

He takes great joy in seeing others use the products he has designed. “The most exciting thing about doing this for me is seeing the way others incorporate my pieces,” he said. “I recently met this woman at a design conference who said ‘I just used your sofa in a living room’ and she sent me a picture.  It was gorgeous.

His Psychology of Design

The importance Barry places on the relationship he shares with the companies that he designs for is similar to that of his own clients. As seen in his article in Rizzoli’s Interior Design Master Class, he believes the relationship he has with is clients his more similar to that of psychiatrist to patient. “When we meet clients, it is almost like a session,” Barry said.  “You are going to be spending a year or two talking all of the time.. You are designing their bedrooms and spaces they work in.  You get to know people and their families intimately. 

He believes some of the easiest people he has designed for have been actors and actresses, because they understand the amount of training he has in his craft.  It comes as no surprise that many of his clients are stars of the theatre and film.  “Successful people who are actors are very secure and easy to work with,” he said.  “They are artists too, which is great.”


Outside the Office

Barry’s love for actors goes beyond his design business. He is an avid fan of the theatre and produces plays and musicals. He is capable of recommending and reciting a summary of virtually all past and present Broadway shows to date.

Another way he fills his time outside of work is with the blog he writes for his website “at home, from six to nine o’clock in the morning.” He chronicles everything from hidden gems in the city to revolutions within the interior design industry, and occasionally, he even writes about his own upcoming work or the use of his products in other design styles.  

Between the “Blended Modern” style and his various product lines, Barry’s ideas are quickly spreading throughout the industry. His career is seemingly unstoppable and his work in molding the generations of designers to come is only furthering his influence.  While the reach of his work has extended far beyond the island of Manhattan, luckily for us, the man himself can be found in his NoMad office – showing us the wonderful details of the city we might fail to see and be enriched by, through his window and his work.

July 30, 2015

male and female dancer's in william reue's elevation

Watch now on YouTube

William Reue Architecture has been a Kew tenant for seven years.  During that time, the firm’s work has gained acclaim from critics, and in recent years, the firm’s reputation has been growing exponentially. William Reue, founder and principal of the firm, is not only a fine architect but a thoughtful, creative person who’s always looking for innovative ways to address challenges.

William Reue Riverview Townhouse

The firm’s latest work is a gorgeous townhouse project in the West Village here in New York.  It is a beautiful design with stunningly simple lines and replete with grace and light.

William Reue Riverside Townhouse Staircase

Typically, architects present new projects in “airless” photographs where the rooms barely seem like they could have been or will ever be inhabited. Reue wanted a way to highlight the dynamic beauty of the new townhouse. His solution is astoundingly innovative.  The firm commissioned an evocative dance to be choreographed, performed and videotaped in the space — a piece that would bring the space to life, suggest the drama of the life of future inhabitants, and brings us a richer experience of the space itself.

william reue designed living room

Entitled “Elevation – A Ballet Exploration of an Architectural Space,”  this film is unique in its combination of architecture, dance, film, and music. To pull it off, William Reue Architecture collaborated with choreographer Sean Roschman, whose body of work includes commissions by Cirque Du Soleil’s onedrop.org and Lady Gaga’s ARTRave New York Fashion Week, to create an original dance that was performed by Jon Cooper, Megan Dickinson, and Oscar Carrillo.

william reue designed bathroom

The video was directed by Brandon Bloch, a commercial filmmaker based in Brooklyn who was supported by a small but talented team including Tim Sessler as Director of Photography. The soundtrack – called “Iguazu” – was created by Hays Holladay, an experimental musician based in Los Angeles whose work is often informed by physical spaces.

The resulting four-minute video is quite moving.  It is sexy, seductive, and fueled by the athleticism of the dancers. Take a look on YouTube.