5 Questions With Architect Sarah Zames of General Assembly

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The Hamptons is an interesting place because it has both a very formal and a more relaxed artistic history. This project was a balance of those two ideas.
— Architect Sarah Zames
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Flooring is one of the biggest decisions you make on a project and locking that decision in in the beginning is important in order to keep the other decisions on finishes in line. What I enjoyed about The Hudson Company was the education they brought to the clients.
— Sarah Zames

Meet Sarah Zames of General Assembly

Brooklyn-based architect Sarah Zames grew up in Northwest Connecticut and has been living and designing in New York City and Los Angeles for the past two decades. After working at several international firms, including Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, and Rafael Viñoly Architects, her attraction to the intimacy and scale of residential design led her, in 2010, to start General Assembly - a team of designers and project managers who believe that the details of a home should come from the unique, personal details of the people who live there. In addition to ground up and full renovation projects, GA designs custom lighting and furniture.

Creating A Family Refuge In The Hamptons

In 2018, The Hudson Company worked together with Sarah and GA to provide the custom milled flooring for the ‘Watermill’ project - a complete residential renovation in The Hamptons. Describing the project in their own words, GA says:

“This 3400 square foot home in the Hamptons was gutted down to the studs and rebuilt to create a family refuge from the busy city. We were inspired by the idea of juxtuposing the informality of a traditional country house with the formality that such a grand space required, in order to create something entirely unique, filling the house with our modern interpretation of some very classic details. GA handled all aspects of the process from architectural design to interior design, including all lighting, finishes and several custom designed furniture pieces.”

5 Questions with Architect Sarah Zames

After the successful completion of the Watermill project, which features Hudson Company Bare, White Oak, Flat Sawn floors, we wanted to sit down with Sarah to discuss a bit about her team’s creative process and how they brought the Watermill project to life.

First off, how did you distill the clients' needs / ideas into a clear vision for the design of this project?

The house was designed for four different people (from two different generations) to enjoy. So, we naturally had some differing opinions on style.  We wanted to make sure we were able to work the personality of everyone into the design, and took input from everyone involved. One unifying factor between everyone was their love of travel. They often traveled as a family together, and brought back some great art pieces. We made sure to find places to include those in the space. 

Clearly there is a focus on natural materials in this project—woods, marble, stone, and plants—can you talk a bit about these choices of materials and why they are a good fit for a, 'family refuge from the city?'

We tend to use natural materials in all of our projects because they are ageless and will not go out of style. For this project, using natural materials was a big part of bringing balance to the design. We combined natural materials with more modern details and, in doing so, we were able to achieve a comfortable elegance.

How did the design of this home fit into or contrast the historic design vernacular of the Hamptons?

The Hamptons is an interesting place because it has both a very formal and a more relaxed artistic history. This project was a balance of those two contrasting ideas. We wanted to maintain some of the formality, but also create a comfortable place to enjoy the weekend. We achieved this balance by creating more modern versions of some traditional details (for example, the paneling on the stairs and family room ceiling), and by bringing in natural materials that would age over time.  

It's clear that your team loves the custom details of design (from finishes, lighting, furniture, etc.). Can you talk about this high-level of creative detailing and how this style of work allows you to serve your clients and create unique design?

We feel that the best part of doing a full renovation is being able to have everything designed exactly to your taste. Designing custom details, like the brass tops to the railing balustrade, is one of the best parts of what we do. It means that the homeowners get to enjoy something that is unique to them, and we get to experiment with design and work with really great craftspeople.

Lastly, can you talk about your experience collaborating with The Hudson Company during the Watermill project?

We started working with The Hudson Company very early on in the project. Flooring is one of the biggest decisions you make on a project and locking that decision in in the beginning is important in order to keep the other decisions on finishes in line. What I enjoyed about Hudson was the education they brought to the clients. They respect the fact that [wood flooring] is a big investment and they took the time to educate the clients on the importance of quality flooring. 

Learn more about Bare, White Oak, Flat Sawn

Go inside the Watermill residential project here and here.

Project Credits:

Installation In Focus: Sunnyfield Farm

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A Classic Home 8 Years In The Making

Overlooking the rolling hills of the Hudson Valley is the idyllic Sunnyfield Farm, a horse farm and traditional Georgian-style home in Millbrook, New York.

The Hudson Company was honored to play a role in the development, design, and construction of the home — a project spanning more than eight years, including a research trip to the Swedish countryside for inspiration and materials. This passion project required not only a very close client-designer relationship but also an ongoing dialogue with The Hudson Company. The result of these close partnerships is a residential installation project that features some of our most ambitious flooring details to date, including 10" Reclaimed Heart Pine flooring sourced from historic New York City townhouses; custom-milled, extra-long White Oak floor planks;  and Reclaimed Redwood specially milled for Sunnyfield’s trim work. 

Throughout the process, lead architect Cynthia Filkoff of Di Biase Filkoff Architects was attuned to her client’s high standard of quality and beauty. “We were initially asked to transform the preexisting modernist house into a traditional Tudor,” Filkoff explains, “but after living in the original house for a year, the client decided that the quality of the construction was inadequate. It made more sense to tear it down and build a new home.”

In time, the team at Di Biase Filkoff came up with a solution that would meet the client’s exacting criteria: a proper brick Georgian home with Swedish-inspired interiors connected to the magnificent land and views. In order to find the right balance of craftsmanship and aesthetic, Filkoff traveled to the client’s summer home in Fiskebäckskil, Sweden. “In Sweden, I was able to study the wood-centric, old-world architecture that the client admired so much. What I found there was an aesthetic that was rich in handcrafted details. It was inventive and playful, both inside and out. Ultimately, these were the kind of details that we worked to incorporate at Sunnyfield.”

Along with a detailed list of high-quality, sustainable material specifications, the choice of wood flooring was critical to the aesthetic and design of the home. “When it came to flooring,” Cynthia recalls, “the client was committed to creating a wood floor that reflected the antique floors of classic Swedish homes. The details had to be authentic.” From here, Di Biase Filkoff turned to The Hudson Company, who encouraged the designers to incorporate two complementary flooring types: Reclaimed Heart Pine and White Oak.

The Reclaimed Heart Pine milled for the Sunnyfield project was sourced from a row of historic townhouses on New York City’s Upper East Side and then milled to a width of 10” to reflect the flooring Filkoff had researched in Scandinavia. The White Oak flooring planks, installed in the home’s ground floor, were sourced from purpose-cut trees, hand selected from private timber stands. The trees were air-dried, kiln-dried, and custom milled to meet the architect’s designs. Along with an intricate wagon wheel pattern for Sunnyfield’s dining room, Filkoff also designated that much of the White Oak would be milled into extra-long planks that could span from the home’s front entrance all the way to the back door. At 10” wide and ranging from 10’ to 24’ in length, these extraordinarily long oak planks create a striking and unique aesthetic for the home’s ground floor. In addition, Reclaimed Redwood, sourced from decommissioned New York City rooftop water tanks, was used to outfit the home’s custom door and window frames and interior trim.

In the end, what made the Sunnyfield project such a glowing success was the sustained and passionate attention to detail by everyone involved: the client, the designers, and a wide array of talented craftspeople. Looking back, Filkoff remembers the project collaboration with special fondness. “Working with The Hudson Company exceeded our expectations on every level: from their knowledgeable insight and expertise, to their creative ideas, to their ability to source and deliver materials on time and on budget,” she says. “Throughout the project, the collaboration was exceptional. The Hudson Company enhanced the entire process. You know, I could go on and on about this project. Sunnyfield was such a labor of love.”

This installation profile originally appeared in The Hudson Company Journal, Volume 2 - click to learn more about our new print journal and catalogue.

The Hudson Company + rag & bone Tribeca

rag & bone's new men's store at 228 West Broadway in Tribeca. Photo via  tribecacitizen.com.

rag & bone's new men's store at 228 West Broadway in Tribeca. Photo via tribecacitizen.com.

A Custom Floor for a custom men's shop

This year, The Hudson Company had the privilege to partner once again with the good folks at rag & bone New York to help them curate the interior design of their tenth New York City retail location.

From its origins in New York in 2002, rag & bone instantaneously distinguished itself by combining British heritage with directional, modern design. Today, the brand has become synonymous with innately wearable clothing that melds classic tailoring with an edgy yet understated New York aesthetic.

For their new 'men's only' store in Tribeca, rag & bone's design team had a specific vision for how to create a luxury shopping experience catered specifically to men - a vision that included custom graffiti in the dressing rooms, an authentic Stormtrooper costume, and a one of a kind Hudson Company parquet floor.

Original flooring design concept by The Hudson Company.

Original flooring design concept by The Hudson Company.

A Truly Collaborative Design solution

From the outset of the project, the designers knew that they wanted to create a custom parquet floor with a 'graphic' feel to it. From here, The Hudson Company team suggested a direction for a White Oak flooring design (see sketch at left). 

The boutique's finished floor was constructed of a combination of straight flooring planks and 24" x 24" parquet panels. The color and finish of the floor was custom selected by the design team to complement the overall interior design of the boutique. 

As with all of our creative partnerships, it is a pleasure to help innovative brands and their design teams reach their project goals.

See our White Oak Herringbone floor for the rag & bone at Bloomingdales location.

Visit the rag & bone men's shop and see this unique floor in person: rag & bone Men's Shop is at 228 West Broadway, New York, New York 10013. Phone: 646 277 836. Store Hours: Monday - Saturday: 11am - 8pm, Sunday: 12pm - 6pm.

 

Detail of the store's custom White Oak parquet flooring design.

Detail of the store's custom White Oak parquet flooring design.

Detail of rag & bone Tribeca flooring installation.

Detail of rag & bone Tribeca flooring installation.