Lofts Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the May/June 2005 issue.

My perusal through Lofts, from the Good Ideas series by Harper Design International, was enjoyable as well as educational. Edited by Ana Cristina G. Canizares and published in 2003, this book is an eye pleasing exhibition of several uniquely rehabilitated lofts from all over the world. With over 800 full-color photographs and well thought-out explanatory captions, the ideas from Lofts are captivating and easily ingested.

A description of the recent increase in popularity of loft living composes the brief introduction just inside this sleek binding. Then, the work of numerous photographers begins to tell the story. These photographs depict lofts that are atypical, artistic, elegant yet practical, and ultramodern. Each one of the lofts showcased was completed in recent years, and therefore, all incorporate relatively new uses of materials and technology. Several loft examples also include architectural sections and/or plans which allow them to be more easily understood.

One of the most common and biggest hurdles to overcome in loft design is that of coping with minimal space, and therefore, creating space that is multi-functional. Unique materials, and almost anything but drywall, are used to delineate space. In the examples shown, space definition was achieved through means such as the use or installation of movable panels, fabric curtains, screens, and changes in lighting, color, and floor elevations. Because of the lack of space that typically exists, one of the intrinsic goals in loft design is to enhance the spatial fluidity by keeping the physical and visual separation to a minimum.

Because often a loft only receives natural light from one side, spatial fluidity is also important for light to reach other areas of the living space. Once again, as seen in the photographs, the use of unusual materials that are transparent, translucent, or reflective aid in increasing the amount of natural light available throughout the loft. As you can guess, each material or element must have a legitimate purpose in order to be introduced into the space.

Another key challenge in rehabilitating a loft is the decision of how and which elements of the history of the space to maintain or feature. The many approaches made in this regard are interesting and worth noticing. Though some designs kept nothing of the prior use, some featured, for example, the original wood floor, sprinkler system, or ceiling beams.

The challenges of loft design offer the opportunities for so many unique solutions. Each loft featured in Lofts is an individual combination of architecture and interior design. With so many different yet successful, unique, and beautiful examples, Lofts really is, as the series implies, a book of good ideas. As our culture begins to re-embrace urban living, lofts will continue to rise in popularity and will become a conventional residential choice in the future.

Author: Tory Parish