A sunny view and her grandparents’ original Eames Wire Chair help make the Brooklyn-based home office of photographer-turned-designer Jennifer Levy both cheerful and meaningful. Check out the bright workspace — which simultaneously serves as the headquarters of her interior design firm CAVdesign and an occasional guest room — in this quick tour.
Tell us about CAVdesign: How it started, what you’re passionate about, and where you’re going. I started CAVdesign after a long career as a photographer (which I still do for special clients). As a serial renovator, I always enjoyed re-working my spaces and finally decided to do it professionally. I absolutely love the combination of working with people, hunting down design bargains, and even the inevitable struggles of the renovation process. I find it rewarding to craft a new environment, and I believe that the environments we create tell our stories. I really enjoy helping my clients find the “voice” for their spaces, while being mindful of satisfying practical needs like storage, a comfy corner for reading, and child-friendly furnishings and fabrics. I’m also expanding into two areas: Design Education and products. I’ve been working on a series of e-books called “The Design Coach Series” to help people get the most of their own renovations and design projects, and I have a wall-covering product in the works as well.
What inspires you? In addition to architects like Mies Van der Rohe and interior designers (Frank Roop, Laura Bohn, Brad Ford), I’m inspired by old machinery, shells and plants, Asian graphics, and designers like Charles and Ray Eames, who had a freedom and playfulness behind their work. (We have an Eames Hang-It-All in our entry and it always makes me smile, which is pretty good for a hook!)
Tell us about your workspace. Any special considerations that affected the way it’s set up? What do you like or dislike? The office also serves as a guest room (thanks to a Murphy Bed), which is quite a challenge given its size. I used a tall storage piece to maximize the space and still leave clearance for the bed to fold down, but I’m definitely running out of space for samples and fabrics! I usually work with one other person here, so I needed a second desk area, which I created by wrapping the desk (made out of doors) along two walls. The best things about my office are the view — a south-facing backyard of trees — and the curtains, which are very cheerful and Scandinavian-looking.
Your office has two Herman Miller pieces: an Eames Wire Chair and an Aeron. Why did you select them? I was lucky to have grandparents with good taste and a few original mid-century pieces, including the Eames Wire Chair that I use in my office, and I often think of my costume-designer grandmother (Olga – very German) as my original design inspiration. I keep her picture of her in the office as a reminder of her great taste and DIY spirit (she sewed all her slipcovers). I love the base of the chair and the fact that it swivels (I think it was the only swivel chair the Eames’ designed) and the contrast of the metal grid. A sheepskin makes it comfortable even for long stretches.
When I expanded to a second seating area, I needed another chair: the Aeron. It’s simply the most comfortable office chair I have ever sat in. I had also been experiencing shoulder pain from working on the computer and using the Aeron, combined with lowering my desk height, helped clear that right up.
Photos: Jennifer Levy