Brock Forsblom is no minimalist, but he’s trying. “I don’t know how the Judds of the world really did it,” the designer tells me while describing his latest experiment: a 3,000-square-foot downtown Manhattan loft that he and his husband bought last year just before the pandemic and are trying to keep a bit spare.
“Our old rental apartment” — a 700-square-foot 1950s one-bedroom in the West Village — “was very straightforward, with arches and rooms and doors,” he says. “And I decorated every inch of it, and I loved it.” Forsblom believed that the new apartment would unleash in him a new aesthetic, in which his penchant for “things on things” would be washed away. “I soon realized that I could play the loft game in a different way.”
Forsblom’s way was to edit for less stuff that would still deliver a robust decorative authority. The industrial fixtures of the McMaster-Carr catalogue, designed more for outfitting a factory than a home, were the starting point. His scheme included low-to-the-ground dining and seating coexisting with a smattering of more decorative pieces, with nary a plump sofa anywhere on the premises. Even the mattress hugged the floor. Then nagging questions began to bubble up in Forsblom’s mind: Would they miss doors and walls? Did they want the cozy familiarity of traditional rooms? Would they still crave privacy?
For now, he has mostly played with color — the red bedroom, the van Gogh yellow when you walk in, that expanse of pond-green floor. He relishes the impact that a single color can have on a room when it is poured everywhere. “It’s not art, it’s not conceptual; it’s just color,” he says.
But now that lockdown is over, Forsblom worries that the experiment may run aground on his other instincts: “Am I disciplined enough not to drag home half the flea market every Saturday?”
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