Understanding the relationship between past and present is fundamental to providing the many different experiences that architecture can provide. Trying to create a space that reflects today’s needs, Giusi Mastro of the ORA studio is able to draw on the language of classicism to compose a design that merges timelessness, functionality and modernity.
Founded in New York in 2001 by Italian architect Giusi Mastro, the ORA studio specializes in high-end contemporary interiors, space planning and product design for residential and commercial projects. His projects reflect an essential creative process: the synergy of client, designer, challenges and solutions. Whether restoring an old house, redesigning a combination of three apartments or creating a new house, each project tells its own story.
Trying to find the delicate balance between classic and contemporary design is extremely complicated; with differences in style and form, creating that perfect marriage of old and new is a skill that requires attention to detail and innovation. Giusi Mastro, has managed to merge the two design styles into perfect unity for his latest project.
The Long Island Residence is a sprawling and lush 24,000 square foot French-style estate surrounded by an Italian garden with sweeping views of the New York skyline. Embodying the refined balance between classic architecture and contemporary interior, it makes the property one of the most unique and successful projects of the ORA studio. Mastro moves easily between periods and styles – with designs inspired for life, work and hospitality. She is a master of transformation, reinventing spaces and transforming visions into realities of volume, line, texture and color.
“The client wanted to interact with an interior designer with a European sensibility – with a knowledge of classical architecture that he revered and extensive experience in contemporary design that he envisioned for interiors,” says Mastro. “Being an Italian and international architect and designer living in New York, I was able to identify what the feeling of the residence should be and encouraged the client to adopt a series of pragmatic choices in order to bring to life a home that the family would feel deeply connected to.
The space features richly detailed, high-end Italian furnishings that reflect the client’s and Mastro’s sophistication and appreciation of craftsmanship. Grasello di Calce stucco made from natural lime has been used on the bedroom walls while Bianco Lasa marble lines the floors of the mansion. Accompanied by a fireplace, a state-of-the-art kitchen by Boffi and a grand staircase, the place exudes the elegance of modernity while incorporating aspects of classic architecture and design. “When we talk about classic design, it’s not necessarily related to a style, but rather to an approach to design,” explained Mastro. “It’s how space is laid out, how alignment between space is created, and how the proportions of openings like windows, doors or stairwells create balance – sometimes with symmetry or asymmetry – ensuring that each form is in space, with a deep understanding of what the roof of classical architecture is and the ability to reinterpret these fundamentals for the aesthetics and needs of the moment”.
Moreover, in the UN Plaza Duplex, a historic building designed in 1966 by Harris, Abramowitz and Stevens, Mastro welcomes a contemporary interior approach that preserves the history and classic design of the space, blending both modernity and heritage. “When instead we work in an existing building and the client asks us to renovate their space and include the needs of a contemporary era, we identify the original attribute of the space and do our best to preserve in order to make the space pleasant and functional. ” There was an immediate feeling of a well-balanced layout when viewing the place and to retain this structure, Mastro created an elegantly designed open concept layout that retains features of the original design – such as the staircase spiral staircase – while refining it to suit the client’s desire for elegance and chic; leading to a beautiful bleached zebra wood floor, a space bathed in light from the large windows that decorated the space and a an open layout concept that made the space look much larger and lavish.
This appreciation of classic design and artistry is further showcased in the Apartment Sutton Place South duplex project on the top floor of a renowned building steeped in heritage and history. The apartment was already under construction when the clients called on ORA to redesign their space. They had a passion for interior design with a sophisticated minimalist aesthetic and had an extensive collection of art in various mediums, which required a complementary backdrop and environment. Working with these guidelines, Mastro’s challenge was to create elements of unity that made sense within the confines of the client’s wishes. This resulted in a double-sided marble fireplace; a custom-designed wall unit and floating ceiling with recessed lighting; evoking a warm and luxurious feeling that encompasses the home.
Well-designed buildings with harmonious proportions are likely to become classics by remaining beautiful over time, retaining some of the classic fundamentals such as; how to organize the plan, the symmetry, the relationship between the different scales and proportions and the flow of space.
Giusi Mastro explains how to create a classic-contemporary architect style
With a passion for design, attention to detail and a commitment to delivering beautiful architectural concepts that blend modernity and heritage, Mastro is able to merge that bridge between classic and contemporary architecture; creating innovative and timeless homes and showcasing his lifelong passion for the tradition of art and design.
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