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GUBI goes al fresco with Sebastian Mendez

'A home has to be a place of reunion, of pause, of motivation, of fun'

The co-founding architect behind NYC's development firm Tankhouse, Sebastian Mendez lifts the lid on Brooklyn living – in the pioneering home he created. GUBI interviews Sebastian:

Where is your home, and who lives there with you?
'I live with my wife, Candice, and two kids, Edie and Luca, in Brooklyn, New York. We enjoy the neighbourhood because it offers the best of urban and suburban living: It's central, well located, very close to Manhattan, and has its own scene and style. At the same time there are so many places of pause, calmness, sunlight, green spaces, parks. Brooklyn is a place with young professionals, artists, designers, families gravitating towards, and so it seems to be that the threshold for good design and style is pretty high in Brooklyn.'

'We have acquired a flat in 450 Warren, which was Tankhouse's first ground-up residential project. The motivation was obvious. I have spent years envisioning, designing, and building this project in collaboration with the design and construction teams, and I firmly believe in its uniqueness. The quality of spaces, both communal and private, indoors and outdoors, makes up for a very stimulating and rewarding lifestyle.

After living in Manhattan for almost a decade, and about the same time in Brooklyn, I'd say Brooklyn is our place.

The building embodies a balance between indoor and outdoor living. All the apartments are linked by bridges, open to the elements and the sky. You enter our house through a foyer. This is the space where we transition to home: we take off our shoes, leave the stroller, park the umbrella. Once inside, the living and dining area opens up to a covered patio, which is sheltered from the elements, but open to the neighbourhood.'

What makes a house a home?
'A home has to be a place of reunion, of pause, of motivation, of fun, and where you can feel contained when you are stressed. All of this requires different kinds of spaces. In our case, I think our home is successful at providing a space where we can all interact, and also separate when we need to. We can play, and we can rest.

Considering my role at Tankhouse, home is also an experiment. It is the place I test whether our ideas at Tankhouse work or not.

In our kitchen living space, we come together around a very large island, where we cook, and the kids play, do homework, and sometimes eat. This space has views and light in multiple directions, and opens onto a covered patio. This is where we all spend time outside when the weather is nice.'

What are the most important things to consider when designing a home?
'It needs to offer a combination of design, style, and comfort while being functional and practical. I'm constantly looking at different designers, from young and emerging to more established, individuals to large companies, international to local. In the end, it all needs to work together, so materiality and tone are important. At the moment, Candice and I are in a phase where we like muted, natural colours, and natural materials – and always a bit of steel for me.

GUBI has a pretty eclectic collection that combines classics with some new (to me!) designers, which makes it appealing. The aesthetic and usability of GUBI's alfresco pieces make them so flexible that they could be used inside or outdoors. The Pacha Lounge Chairs by Pierre Paulin are constantly moving around in our house - they're comfortable, durable, indoor-outdoor, low-profile, chunky and organic in shape, which works well with our space and balances the strong, angular geometry of the building.'


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