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13 (Great) Questions for Architects Gachot Studios


13 (Great) Questions for Architects Gachot Studios

August 1, 2020

With a background in hotel and retail design, Christine and John Gachot of New York’s Gachot Studios take a highly individual approach to their work. The user, not the style, comes first—which is never a bad strategy for private homes or hospitality projects like the Shinola Hotel in Detroit, which the firm completed in 2018. We asked Christine Gachot to share some insights:

  • RM: Opposites attract: what’s a favorite material pairing for you?
  • CG: We often play with contrasts in regard to setting rather than material. Our own Shelter Island, New York, weekend home is a 1920’s center hall colonial filled with contemporary and mid-century modern furniture: Charlotte Perriand library table, Alvar Aalto stools. Or think of an old Parisian apartment filled with the new pieces—it works every time. Historic architecture can act as a theatrical setting and a wonderful juxtaposition with more streamlined furniture.
shelter island dining room ngoc minh ngo
Above: The Gachots favor Noguchi rice-paper lamps; shown above, the Akari 75D in their own Shelter Island house. Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo courtesy of Gachot Studios.
  • RM: The essential light fixture.
  • CG: Noguchi’s Akari rice-paper lamps. Not only do these fixtures give the warmest glow, they are pieces of art in a room.
  • RM: The best countertop material.
  • CG: Well, playing off your last question, we used a teal blue concrete bar top for the Royal Palm Shuffleboard Court in Brooklyn. But our go-to for residential design is Imperial Danby marble out of Vermont. It’s super durable and goes with everything.

    shelter island home ngoc minh ngo
    Above: The Gachot’s light-flooded Shelter Island dining room, photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo courtesy of Gachot Studios.
  • RM: Your go-to neutral paint color.
  • CG: Farrow & Ball’s Wimborne White.
  • RM: Concrete, yes or no? Favorite use and finish?
  • CG: Yes! It can be a really rich texture. We’re currently collaborating on a home with Walker Warner Architects in San Francisco, and they’re using concrete as a primary interior material; we are trying to hit a balance of warmth with the millwork and furnishings. Ten years ago, I led the design development of the Standard High Line hotel in New York, which is a favorite reference point for board-formed concrete on a contemporary exterior. Seeing that pour live was like watching an episode of Modern Marvels—we all had seats lined up to experience it!
shinola hotel bath tiling gachot studios
Above: A bathroom designed by Gachot Studios for the Shinola Hotel in Detroit. Photo by Nicole Franzen courtesy of Gachot Studios.
  • RM: Unsung hero in your work?
  • CG: A basic material like tile, used in an interesting way, always succeeds—it’s a work horse. We did a custom Delft tile for a residence that was based on art work by the client’s young family members. We also cross-pollinate ideas from commercial to residential projects all the time. It’s about the high-low.
  • RM: What do you like to exaggerate, and why?
  • CG: Function first. In our hospitality work, the back-of-house spaces are as important to the end user as the front-of-house guest experience. This translates to private residential projects. You want the hamburger to get from the kitchen to the dining room without getting cold.
  • RM: What do you minimize, and why?
  • CG: Ego! It’s all about collaboration. The best ideas can come from anywhere, and we’re open to that. Clients are so well-informed; their knowledge and access to design is endless in the age of Instagram. We also take advice from people who are skilled at their crafts—the person laying the tile, etc.
  • RM: Your signature move in the kitchen?
  • CG: We love a good pantry, and you don’t need a lot of room for it. But I do like a little counter space for treats. I rock a candy display!
block fixtures waterworks gachot studios
Above: A modern classic: Gachot Studios Bond Collection for Waterworks.
  • RM: What material is worth the splurge?
  • CG: It’s always wise to save your money for key pieces that will grow with you. I still don’t own a coffee table at our loft in New York because I can’t afford the one I want—I’ll save and wait. We suggest that clients invest in the things you touch: hardware, switches, plumbing fixtures and fittings. We just designed a collection for Waterworks called Bond—it’s a comprehensive line of fixtures and fittings. Our goal was to design pieces that were modern in form but unique and inviting. It was important to us that the line strike a balance between distinctiveness and timelessness – because ultimately these things are investments in your home that you want to last a lifetime.
  • RM: Smartest “smart house” feature.
  • CG: Nest and Sonos have made home technology accessible and affordable. They are user-friendly and easy to install. Nest is known for their thermostats, but they also make a great home security system, and the sound quality with Sonos is top-notch.
  • RM: How small can a bedroom get before it’s claustrophobic?
  • CG: Small! Our main bedroom in New York is 10-by-10 feet, but it feels super cozy because you enter through a paneled doorway. There is just enough space for the bed and a small vanity area. We only have one bathroom in the family loft, so getting creative with additional space for our morning routine was important.
  • RM: What gesture do you often repeat within a house?
  • CG: While we like to have an underlying architectural backdrop, we consider individual areas from the point of view of the user. It’s not a design thesis, it’s thinking about the people who are inhabiting the space.

For more expert advice, see:

Expert Advice: 13 (Great) Questions for Architect Gil Schafer

Expert Advice: How to Hire a Truly Great Painter for Your Home

Expert Advice: 23 Genius, Reversible, Budget-Friendly Hacks to Transform a Rental Apartment

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Frequently asked questions

Who is behind Gachot Studios?

Gachot Studios was founded by Christine and John Gachot, who have been working in the design industry for over 25 years.

What types of projects does Gachot Studios work on?

Gachot Studios works on a range of projects, including residential, hospitality, and commercial projects.

What is Gachot Studios design philosophy?

Gachot Studios focuses on creating timeless and elegant designs that are thoughtful and functional for the clients they work with.

What is Gachot Studios favorite project they have worked on?

Gachot Studios does not have a favorite project as all of their projects are unique and special to them in their own way.

What materials does Gachot Studios like to work with?

Gachot Studios likes to work with natural materials such as wood, stone, and leather.

How does Gachot Studios approach sustainable design?

Gachot Studios believes in creating designs that endure, which leads to sustainable design. They focus on using natural materials and making designs that will last for years to come.

What sets Gachot Studios apart from other design firms?

Gachot Studios prides itself on creating designs that are timeless and elegant while being functional and practical for their clients.

What advice does Gachot Studios have for clients embarking on a design project?

Gachot Studios recommends that clients find a design professional who they connect with and trust to guide them through the design process.

Does Gachot Studios work with clients remotely?

Yes, Gachot Studios does work with clients remotely and offers virtual design services.

What is Gachot Studios working on now?

Gachot Studios is currently working on a range of projects, from private residences to luxury hotels.

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