FEATURES : DESIGN

By Loft Visit

By Shawn Kelly as told by Sarah Williams

Published August 19, 2009

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Softwall Sofa, Box series chairs and Metro2 table, Ile side table.<br> Vintage and Flea market accessory pieces. Lighting by Flos.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Softwall Sofa, Box series chairs and Metro2 table, Ile side table.
Vintage and Flea market accessory pieces. Lighting by Flos.

After - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Extra Soft sofa series, Ile Club sofa, Ile side tables. Pillows shown in reissued Gio Ponti<br> fabric design for Living Divani in the 1960's.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

After - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Extra Soft sofa series, Ile Club sofa, Ile side tables. Pillows shown in reissued Gio Ponti
fabric design for Living Divani in the 1960's.

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Twice Sofa, Lulea chairs, Ile Club daybed, Tube Tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro<br> Wall cabinet - Modern System, Bookshelf - System NXT. Shag rug by Odegard

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Twice Sofa, Lulea chairs, Ile Club daybed, Tube Tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro
Wall cabinet - Modern System, Bookshelf - System NXT. Shag rug by Odegard

After - Piero Lissoni designs for Living Divani - Metro2 Sofa composition, Metro2 tables, Curve chairs and Ile tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro<br> Wall cabinets - Modern System. Groove bench. Bookshelf - System NXT. Rug by Odegard.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

After - Piero Lissoni designs for Living Divani - Metro2 Sofa composition, Metro2 tables, Curve chairs and Ile tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro
Wall cabinets - Modern System. Groove bench. Bookshelf - System NXT. Rug by Odegard.

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Twice Sofa, Tube Tables, Ile tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro<br>Wall cabinet - Modern System, Bookshelf - System NXT.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani - Twice Sofa, Tube Tables, Ile tables. Piero Lissoni for Porro
Wall cabinet - Modern System, Bookshelf - System NXT.

After - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani – Metro2 Sofa composition, Metro2 tables, Curve chairs. Piero Lissoni for Porro<br> Wall cabinets - Modern System. Reissued Spring table by Shiro Kuramata design for Living Divani in the 1960's.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

After - Piero Lissoni for Living Divani – Metro2 Sofa composition, Metro2 tables, Curve chairs. Piero Lissoni for Porro
Wall cabinets - Modern System. Reissued Spring table by Shiro Kuramata design for Living Divani in the 1960's.

Before - Piero Lissoni's P.06 Table for Porro with Lissoni designed Porro Spindle chairs. Large Mirror by Boffi.<br> After - Jean Marie Massaud Synapsis Table with H-Chairs by Christophe Pillet - all for Porro.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Piero Lissoni's P.06 Table for Porro with Lissoni designed Porro Spindle chairs. Large Mirror by Boffi.
After - Jean Marie Massaud Synapsis Table with H-Chairs by Christophe Pillet - all for Porro.

Before - Jean Marie Massaud  desined Synapsis Table with Porro Como chairs by Lissoni. P-Light Chandelier by Porro<br> in exclusive collaboration with Vistosi of Murano. Boffi Kitchen from Xila 2.3 Series with Zone Series tall cabinets and Flat Kap hood -

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Jean Marie Massaud desined Synapsis Table with Porro Como chairs by Lissoni. P-Light Chandelier by Porro
in exclusive collaboration with Vistosi of Murano. Boffi Kitchen from Xila 2.3 Series with Zone Series tall cabinets and Flat Kap hood -

After - Piero Lissoni Beam Glass tables and Como Chairs for Porro. Boffi K14 series kitchen island by Norbert Wangen with<br> Lissoni’s Zone tall cabinets and mirrored "Ceiling" hood.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

After - Piero Lissoni Beam Glass tables and Como Chairs for Porro. Boffi K14 series kitchen island by Norbert Wangen with
Lissoni’s Zone tall cabinets and mirrored "Ceiling" hood.

Before - Dorian chairs and Softwall Bed for Living Divani. Mirror and Anthea wall system for Boffi. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.<br> After - Extra Wall bed, leather Family Lounge table, Softwall club chair and table all for Living Divani.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Dorian chairs and Softwall Bed for Living Divani. Mirror and Anthea wall system for Boffi. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.
After - Extra Wall bed, leather Family Lounge table, Softwall club chair and table all for Living Divani.

Before - Living Divani Softwall Bed, Family Lounge table and Ile table. Porro Storage System wardrobe. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.<br> After - Porro Storage System wardrobe by Piero Lissoni. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Before - Living Divani Softwall Bed, Family Lounge table and Ile table. Porro Storage System wardrobe. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.
After - Porro Storage System wardrobe by Piero Lissoni. Cashmere blanket and linens by Living Divani.

Porro Storage System Walk-in closet by Piero Lissoni.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Porro Storage System Walk-in closet by Piero Lissoni.

Lissoni designed outdoor furniture collection for Living Divani. Umbrella courtesy of Royal Botania.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

Lissoni designed outdoor furniture collection for Living Divani. Umbrella courtesy of Royal Botania.

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

Photo: Jordan Provost © 2009

The loft is decorated with vintage finds from Piero Lissoni's stylist, Sissi.

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Anyone with a design fetish in New York City dreams of a cavernous loft space to create endless compositions of beautifully designed furniture punctuated with rare artifacts, and the luxury of “emptiness.” Such a playground exists for Piero Lissoni: the BY New York showroom, hidden away on the top floor of a classic Soho cast iron building. Lissoni is the design director for three internationally recognized Italian furniture brands: Boffi, Living Divani and Porro. Each spring this fantasy space undergoes a complex transformation that culminates in an unveiling of new products for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). At the head of this formidable metamorphosis is Shawn Kelly, who oversees the showroom. Shawn gave The Scout an inside look at the intense process of creating the ultimate New York loft space, and making it look effortless.

It begins with a napkin…

Prior to his role as creative director for BY, Lissoni created designs for heavyweight Italian brands such as Kartell, Cappellini, and Cassina. He’s won numerous awards and has been inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. With such a celebrated career, it’s humbling to know that many of his designs begin with sketches on a napkin.

These sketches are placed in the hands of the manufacturers six weeks in advance at the Salone del Mobile, the international furniture fair in Milan. In that short amount of time they design, build and revise prototypes that will be unveiled at the Salone in April. During this time discussions begin between Lissoni’s office, the three brands, and Shawn’s team from New York as they pore over layout sketches, construction decisions, and products to be featured. Together, they select the best pieces from the Milan show that will be brought to New York, and the race is on.

Shawn rushes back to New York from Milan and begins to put the transformation in action, closing down the New York showroom temporarily and managing a logistical marathon. From April to May he organizes a team to work around the clock making everything come together—air shipping pieces from Italy at great expense, disassembling and packing up the entire contents of the loft, and ordering in industrial cranes to precariously hoist oversized pieces of furniture out the fifth floor window. Contractors swoop in to begin a frenzied week of rebuilding the space to the latest design specifications and repainting the floors to prepare for installation.

While the loft is buzzing with banging hammers and paint fumes, Shawn is crossing his fingers that all the new display pieces have arrived from Italy, made it quickly through customs, and have landed safely in the warehouse without incurring any damage. The industrial cranes return to the street below the loft, and new pieces are lifted gently through the windows into the hands of the installation team. Now the clock is ticking: two weeks left until launch.

There is barely a moment to step back and view the space as a clean canvas before the next phase of transformation begins. A week is spent installing all of the new pieces and countless small decisions must be made, each one critical to the final presentation. Ten days before ICFF is the final deadline for any additional pieces to be air shipped to New York to create just the right balance—or to replace valuable items that were shattered in transit.

Once the installation is complete, the loft becomes a palette where Lissoni’s vision can be brought to life. His stylist Sissi arrives from Italy, bringing her unbelievable eye for exquisite vintage pieces. She imagines the person who would live in this incredible space… a world traveler, a collector, an amazing cook, someone who entertains. She scours flea markets and vintage shops for unique items that will create a warm and modern atmosphere. The loft has been transformed into a fantasy home.

The night before ICFF begins, the moment of truth arrives when Lissoni and the CEO of Boffi step through the door. Shawn and his team have put in hours of sweat to make it appear like this calming, inspiring space has been created effortlessly. Perhaps there will be a few last-minute suggestions from Lissoni— sometimes small, sometimes big. Finally, the installation is blessed just in time for 400 guests to walk through the door to “ooh” and “ahh” on the first official night of ICFF. And in just a few months, it starts all over again…

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