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Mirrored glass treatments, white-on-white detailing and filtered light make this gallery-like apartment a contemplative place

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Creating an interior where artworks can shine entails more than ensuring plenty of free wall space. An astute designer will create an atmosphere that lets the art breathe, and also achieves a subtle sense of character for the living areas themselves.

The owners of this reinvented apartment have a love of polo, as well as a love of art. Following the polo season around the world means they are never in one place for too long.

Designers Tim Kilpelainen and Yvan le Brock were asked to create a cool, relaxing space that would showcase their artworks, and offer respite from a busy lifestyle, a little like an upmarket hotel suite.

"In response, we designed interiors where filtered, ambient light creates a peaceful, almost ethereal feel," says le Brock. "This is achieved through a strategic use of laminated mirror glass, frosted glass, and etched glass doors and panels. Some of these are set on a direct sight line with windows beyond for optimum effect."

Both the apartment's restful ambiance and the artworks are enhanced by finishing the entire interior, apart from the kitchen, in matte white. The effect is truly minimalist, with baseboards and door trims also in white, differentiated from the walls and ceilings by a contrasting gloss finish.

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"In addition to the change in paint textures, a negative detail, or shadow line, further delineates the trim – but the baseboards and door surrounds are still flush with the walls. Nothing stands out apart from the art itself," says le Brock.

In some areas, the apartment's formwork is at oblique angles to cover building plant or services. But the white finish makes everything recede, wall plane anomalies included.

Over 70 spotlights are set across the apartment's ceilings, all trained on individual artworks.

Another way to enhance a collection of artworks or artifacts is simply to give them space. This apartment is a relatively modest 1800sq ft, and the architect says he made every inch count.

"The laundry is tucked away behind a wall of glass panels in the entry corridor, for example, and an outdoor balcony has been reclaimed as indoor space. This is now used as the dining area.

"A surprise of this space is its contrast to the rather pedestrian 1970s building that contains it," he says. "From an overtly detailed exterior the owners step into a world of airy whiteness and light, infused with a subtle green-glass tone. The transformation is exhilarating and offers a refined, understated welcome to the apartment."

First published date: 02 May 2008

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Credit List

Architect Yvan le Brock, DesignArc (Santa Barbara, CA)
Interior designer Tim R Kilpelainen, DesignArc
Builder Kadri & Associates
Structural engineer Kevin Vandervort
Doors and windows Aluminum; DK anodized bronze sliders from Fleetwood
Flooring Wool carpet in Ivory by Godfrey Hirst; Lonseal Vinyl in kitchen
Lighting Xenon Lighting
Blinds Solarfective in white woven vinyl Kitchen
Cabinetry Custom satin finish with Wenge by Braewood