The Evolution of SoHo Loft Space

New York City is the inspiration to many trends in all aspects, but one that we take for granted is the origination of the Loft as a vocabulary of the urban dweller in most western cities. In the m-dc design studio, the kind of imagery that was generated in these spaces is found throughout our collection, and as a design style it’s something we always keep in mind. The New York City SoHo Loft is one that was built as former industrial buildings. These lofts consisted of a collection of cast iron buildings. In the early 1900’s, the original lofts were those located in warehouses and used for manufacturing plants or as storage spaces.

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In the mid 1960’s several New Yorker’s came together to protest the city’s attempt to construct the Lower Manhattan Expressway, also known as LoMEX. The city’s decision to vex the LoMEX plan resulted in having several large upper story loft apartments that were no longer being used for industrial and manufacturing uses.

Lofts soon became artists’ work space, as they desired a large open-work space with plenty of windows for light. Ironically, most lofts were used illegally by artists as several of the lofts has become dormant and abandoned. The edgy neighborhoods where lofts were located meant low prices ideal for starving artists.

AndyInFactoryBecause artists were soon being questioned about their “loft space,” they formed an advocacy group called the SoHo Artists Association (SAA), which desired to improve living conditions and legalize their loft residencies. In January 1971, the Board of Estimate in New York City made it legal for certified artists to reside in the manufacturing buildings of SoHo.

Artists such as Andy Warhol utilized loft space for his work. He named his various NYC studio’s, The Factory. His first studio was located blocks from Soho in Union Square in the Decker Building.

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Artist, Robert Rauschenberg, whose paintings and sculptures helped pronounce both pop art and conceptual-ism also utilized SoHo’s infamous and poverty driven loft space to create his masterpieces.

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It would not be long before these artists who created their masterpieces in SoHo lofts would be pushed from their workspace. Only their artwork would remain in the soon to be chic and expensive NYC SoHo lofts.

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One of the key reasons lofts soon became the desired residence by the wealthy in NYC was because of Tony Goldman, the CEO of Goldman Properties. Goldman purchased 18 SoHo buildings in 1977, with a strong desire to fill the buildings with high-end commercial tenants and re-develop the neighborhood. Soon, economic and social shifts started to transform the SoHo residence, making it much more difficult for striving artists to keep up with a higher rent demand.

Today, these artists lofts are high-end boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, and some of the most expensive real estate in New York City.

From a decorating stand point, we feel the loft has separate stylistic demands: strong painted colors and pure photographic images.

One of the great things about the conversion of industrial space to living space is the discovery process. In this former clock tower, now an amazing Brooklyn loft, the clock has become a fantastic window.

3-1-main-st-a_650_20130710We did something similar with out “Departure” CanvasA photo taken at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. A great way to have your own “Clock Tower” on the cheap.

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In the late sixties and early seventies the notion of the indoor plant, became a ubiquitous element of any home. Raw industrial spaces were often humanized with wild organic plants, rather randomly grown.  355-Bryant-Street-01As things have become more refined, the plant itself has become less stylish, but abstract photographed plants are not. Our “Air” Canvas explores this design element. Foggy- organic, yet clean and simple.

Air_web__43154.1411732104.1280.1280Words and graphic design are an increasing part of contemporary art and in some ways reflect remnant signage often found in industrial spaces.

walter-schupfer-ed10-2011-02-lgnOur “Love” canvas uses a vintage type face arranged in a graphic loose way. A great way to give emotion to your space with simplicity and direct way.LOVEMetalPrint__72973.1411729209.460.480

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