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A New Angle on the Library

How a generic condo in Williamsburg transformed into an open showcase for an extensive collection of books.

Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
Photo: Kevin Kunstadt

These days, it seems as if people are living with fewer books, or none at all, and yet, happily, book lovers still lurk among us, as Koray Duman discovered when he met Patrick Nolan, the VP, editor-in-chief, and associate publisher at Penguin Books, and Clément Gaujal, the regional sales manager for the lighting company Marset, who count 600 cook books as part of their 2,500-volume collection at home. They’d spent roughly ten years living in their two-bedroom condo making do with built-ins until the necessity of a bathroom renovation led them to the opportunity for a full overhaul. After consulting with their friend David van der Leer, who started his own design-matchmaking agency, DVDL Design Decisions, they interviewed a few architects. But it was Duman who drew up a plan that would make their collection a central design element in the redo. A peek into the dining area, seen above, where all the cook books are kept, features Duman’s design of the marble-top table, with a Mafalda dining chair from Patricia Urquiola for Moroso. The light fixture above the table is by David Weeks.

A look at the custom shelving. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt

“We decided to design a library that wraps the perimeter of the entire apartment with custom shelving at a 45-degree angle,” Duman says. “The angle allows the book collection to be viewed from one direction and hides the collection from the other.” The diagonal created by the shelves provided a pattern extended throughout the space with custom tile, seen here intersecting with the wood flooring, and continuing on into the bathroom. The tiles are four inches wide, to match the width of the wide white oak planks. They are manufactured by Gorbon Tiles, a small company in Turkey that Duman featured at Wanted Design in 2018, when he curated a booth for emerging Turkish designers.

The kitchen. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt

Duman’s renovation of the kitchen included removing the dropped ceiling of the formerly recessed area and juxtaposing the industrial elements of the exposed ductwork and perforated metal with the colorful tiles that go from floor to kitchen backsplash in varying shades of custom colors. The kitchen cabinets and island are by Henrybuilt. “Now the core is the kitchen,” Gaujal says, “which for us is a very important thing. We cook a lot; we have people over for dinner, so aside from showcasing the books, we were very focused on what the kitchen would look like.”

A view of the living-room area with a built-in window seat and a settee and armchair from the Chandigarh collection by Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien for Moroso. The original wood beams complement the Decolorized rug by Golran. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
Another view of the living area with a partial wall of storage. While the bookshelves can be seen from this angle, they don’t expose their contents. Photo: Kevin Kunstadt
The model, by Koray Duman. Photo: Courtesy of Koray Duman

Duman built a model, seen above, for Gaujal and Nolan to illustrate how the bookshelves would line the walls and yet not overwhelm the space visually. The intricacy of weaving in the colored tiles with the wood planks was a painstaking job that was not lost on the artisan who did the installation. “Koray detailed the colors that needed to go where,” Gaujal says. “He [the installer] had been working from a drawing, which at the end, I guess as a joke, he signed it.”

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A Generic Condo Transformed Into an Enviable Home Library