The venue seeks to combine the hip downtown aesthetic with uptown elegance in a residential-style setting, with the help of Juul-Hansen and Melanie Courbet
For most Manhattan art galleries, the design is either the cold, concrete floors and modernist pieces of downtown or the refined settings of Belle Epoque buildings, wall-to-wall carpeting, and ornate frames surrounding impressionist works uptown. At LX, a new arts space opening today at 36 East 60th Street on Manhattan's Upper East Side, designer Thomas Juul-Hansen is seeking to combine the best of both worlds in a space that brings the downtown style to the uptown scene.
The venue is the passion project of real-estate entrepreneur Louis Buckworth, who worked closely with the gallery's director, Cecilia Weaver, to develop the concept of bringing downtown to the Upper East Side with the gallery. "That was really important as an overarching theme, and to not pigeonhole ourselves and have a clear direction that would let us present exhibitions that would make sense," Weaver tells AD PRO. "The overall general feeling of downtown galleries, which tend to be more intimate, and maybe friendlier, was more of the model we looked at.
To achieve this, the duo enlisted architect Juul-Hansen, whose noted residential architecture throughout New York gives the gallery a more familiar, homelike presence for the work. According to Juul-Hansen: "It was important for me that this gallery retained some of the emotional values that residential architecture has, that it evokes an emotion of comfort you'd find in a home as opposed to the concrete box gallery. I thought that was very important for this space. For me, when I look at art and match art for my home, I personally feel it's much easier if I'm in an environment like this with the warm wood floor and great lighting."
Rather than stark white walls and a cold, stone floor, the natural, residential aesthetic exudes a relaxing vibe and makes each piece that much more approachable. When asked about what additions or design choices he made to invoke that feeling of home, Juul-Hansen cites the herringbone hardwood floors that span the space. "It's possible that in older galleries this existed, but downtown you don't find that," he says. "It's cement. It's cold to stand on. It's not what I do. Details like that, recessed flush the baseboards, and interior portal trims are all very small actions that feel not terribly different than what you might have at home. We cut a skylight in the ceiling to allow nature light to flow in all the way through the stairs to the lower level."
Complementing the art and interior architecture is a carefully composed seating area with contemporary furniture curated by design gallerist Melanie Courbet. The standouts? Two glass and rose onyx chairs from designer Quinlan Osborne, which act almost as pieces of art themselves-without overwhelming the art on the walls. According to Courbet, "We were looking at a few collections, and the one selected had its own presence without affecting the art. It's very sculptural and elegant." The furniture chosen was selected to match the works currently on display, and the team expects that with each new exhibition or show, the selection of furniture in the space will change too, blending in with each of the new works on the walls.
Weaver plans for four shows per year, with longer runs than most for each one. She's also keen on one charitable show, though she isn't yet sure which one it will be. The current exhibition on display, "I Don't Believe in Art, I Believe in Artists" is a series of contemporary works from a range of artists, curated by Jen DeNike. It will be on display until March 15.