March 8, 2015

Design Hobbyist Patrick Orban's SoHo Triplex

A passionate designophile with a demanding day job, Patrick Orban shifts the DIY paradigm in his SoHo triplex.

by Judith Nasatir interior designer Patrick Orban photographer Costas Picadas


Minimal. Zen. Industrial. That's Patrick Orban's nutshell description of his highly personal aesthetic. What does he call himself? With equal understatement: design hobbyist.

Hobbyist? Ha. Yet without formal training, Orban has long asserted creative control over his living space. He choreographed the apartment's floor plan, which processes naturally from public to private, from the aesthetics of the West to those of the East. He specified the angles and bevels that make his foyer/living room's customized Arne Quinze upholstery his and his alone. He envisioned the open stainless steel kitchen and adjacent dining area, and designed the table that he surrounded with Muller Van Severen's Model 001 chairs. To signal the transition to the apartment's more intimate areas for art and contemplation, he instituted a step up through a Japanese garden and moon gate. Finally, behind his pivoting, sanded-Plexiglas take on a Shoji screen, he created a tatami-floored master bedroom and soapstone-paved and Hinoki-wood-appointed bathroom. Orban also stage-managed the countless infinitesimal details that make this place truly and absolutely his own-from the veering-from-true closures of the kitchen cabinets (not one for the orthogonal, he prefers angles and curves) to the aerodynamic, concrete-topped island atop a navy fiberglass prow of base that he worked on with Delphine Mauroit of DMDesign & Architecture to the one-of-a-kind kitchen sink (a trough between the two basins prevents splashing when he swings the running faucet from one side to the other).

As Orban's walls reveal, he's mad for modern art and the avant-garde (he has closets full of pieces, which he rotates slowly over two to three years). He says his focus shifted design-ward roughly two decades ago, around the time he purchased this loft and did its-and his-first interior. The place has gone through two iterations since. This latest-in shades of gray, Orban's favorite color-includes an extension upward, the plan of which features mirror image stucco volumes, one a roofed terrace, the other a man-cave of music room, separated by a Japanese garden patio that overlooks the Japanese garden below (an arrangement inspired, Orban says, by "Kill Bill"); plus a third level of twin, bamboo-planted decks. Orban conceived and completed the stairs to the roof and its two volumes with the help of Alex Stoltz of SA-DA Architecture.

"This version," says Orban, "is more mature. It was a bit more crude and colorful when I was younger, and then a little more Zen." As for the next, he'll wait and see.

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