Successfully combining her talents as an artist, architectural and interior designer, Rebecca Alston, president of Rebecca Alston Inc., a design firm in Manhattan, recently renovated a 3,600-square-foot loft condo in Tribeca. Her clients, a young couple with widely differing aesthetic sensibilities, presented Alston with the challenge of combining their individual styles. The resulting interior uses both natural and manufactured materials, sophisticated technology, and site-specific artwork designed by Alston to create a luxurious, yet informal, residence for her clients.
Prior to its conversion to the condominium building "Sugar Loaf," the old factory building was used as a document storage warehouse. Alston was introduced to the client through a mutual professional colleague and friend that knew her work. He was aware the building's developer was to bring the loft to a certain level of completion before the client took the loft but also knew the client needed a designer. Alston was recommended and came aboard to custom design the complex project.
"When I came to the table, there wasn't a wall up, nor were the plumbing risers in the building. It was raw and we began by a total review of what the client was getting from the developer. We looked at how we could design the loft and make the appropriate changes to open the circulation and create a customized and definite aesthetic," says Alston. "We wanted to reflect the client's personality and maintain the integrity of what the building is about, as well as take neighborhood issues into account. After all, Tribeca has a very definite texture and history behind it. People move to Tribeca for a certain lifestyle."
Of the design process, Alston says, "Of course the challenge came when we were interfacing with the developer who was in construction. We were bringing much more customization to the design than they had planned on. This is why we basically had two sets of contractors, ours and theirs." Because of these dual objectives, there had to be "an extreme amount of coordination since the developer was responding to the overall building and we were focused on one unit, one client and an entirely different set of issues."