Simplicity can yield elegant home design lines

July 09, 2005|by CHRISTINE BRUN /Copley News Service

Simplicity of design is the hallmark of the well-designed apartment. Very often you'll find such elegant homes in the old buildings in large cities, where 200-year-old structures hide modern jewels.

There is something timeless, smooth and enduringly attractive about the combination of architectural details from another time and clean, simple modern lines. The look is simple, yet elegant and perfect for the small home. It's no surprise that several manufacturers are introducing pieces that address this confluence.

Rakova Brecker Studio in Dania Beach, Fla., specializes in high-end, modern-influenced furniture and accessory collections. Donald Brecker has an impressive background in both furniture design and art. In 1989, he wanted to collaborate with the finest European-influenced architects, furniture-makers and artists when he set out to transform a private residence in Boston. He acquired a 19th century town house on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay district, and with the help of renowned architects Machado and Silvetti, the house was transformed into a natural, impeccably designed space. Simple but dramatic, the house once received an Award for Excellence in Architectural Record magazine and has been featured in the book "The New American Apartment."


Together with his associate Eva Rakova, Brecker's studio emphasizes effortless, well-designed spaces that bring art to everyday life. They have combined their love of art and design to create an entire line that has a modern sensibility and a quiet, traditional luxury. Shown here is one of their finely crafted pieces that clearly demonstrates the economy of good shape and form. This wall-hung credenza or buffet hovers lightly about 9 inches above the floor.

Flanked in a traditional manner by two simple chairs in a design extrapolated from a rather traditional style, the arrangement is nearly stark. What saves it is a piece of wonderful art centered over the buffet and a strong, clear glass vase that holds bold palm fronds. The look is so simple, yet so clear and crisp.

It is this seamless quality that is attractive to the 30-somethings who, in larger numbers than other age groups, buy the minimal look. The eclectic Rakova Brecker collection features pieces inspired by contemporary and moderne periods mixed with tribal-Asian accents. Finely crafted furniture and accessories have an East-West sensibility.

"Our clients appreciate furnishings as works of art, not just as serving utilitarian means," says Brecker.

The sculptural grace of such furnishings makes for a good fit in tiny spaces. Naturally this look works much better when the owner is committed to visual order. There is absolutely no way for this look to be successful if you have piles of clutter hanging around. It's an all or nothing proposition.

It is actually rather hard to achieve this cool, sleek, minimalist look. Colors and finishes must dovetail. There is no room for an "almost" right choice. Each and every element must be the correct size and shape, color and texture, mood and feel. In this genre it is even more important that the elements be perfectly placed. If something feels wrong, it must be replaced. But once this effort is made, the result is timeless elegance.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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