Saturday, 18 April 2009

Barn in the USA


I always admire people with a strong personal aesthetic. Whether someone loves 60's mod style or classical simplicity - if they truly get it right, it's always a pleasure to behold.

Of all my friends, I think that Christopher Griffith has the most all-encompassing visual point of view. As a photographer he has a very specific 'eye' - his work pares down everything he shoots to the most powerful graphic, textural shapes - almost to a point of abstraction. This sensibility can be seen in every part of his life. He dresses almost exclusively in black, white and grey. He decorates his home in monochromatic tones, using simple punchy shapes and surface texture to add interest. Everything he surrounds himself with looks like something out of a signature "Christopher Griffith" photograph.

Tempering the hard edges of Christopher's style is his girlfriend's equally refined vision. Rebecca O'Donnell is an amazingly talented art director, whose taste is similarly minimal - but whose love of modernism and simplicity helps to 'warm up' their shared spaces and add a slightly softer, more human touch. She's also a fabulous cook, who manages to even make her food look as beautiful as it tastes (that's the mark of a true art director, isn't it? When even the pies look like something out of a photoshoot)

So, when I was invited to visit their newly built barn in Upstate New York - I pretty much knew what to expect. Graphic lines, beautiful furniture, great food - blah blah blah. Even so, I was extremely impressed.


The space itself is incredible, with insanely high ceilings and the largest living room I think I've ever seen. The vertical and horizontal lines of the exposed beams serve to emphasise the scale of the place, and add the prerequisite graphic touch. Decoration is minimal, but specific - filled with pieces that manage to be both rugged and romantic at the same time.


Most importantly, the way that the barn utilises the natural light is extraordinary. The living rooms four huge windows allow the light to flood in from dawn to dusk, while every corner of the space is softly lit by additional windows. And the light that they benefit from is breathtaking. As you can see from this post's opening picture, the evening light is positively cinematic in its beauty.


As a demonstration of Christopher and Bec's particular aesthetics - the barn is a triumph. A brilliantly realised statement about who they are and what they find beautiful. One of the most inspiring spaces I've been into in many years.


See what I mean about the light? Crazy!


  1. The photgraphy is genius. I wish that Mr. Van Gelder would picture my house so beautifully. What a keen and wonderful and curious eye! Colt

  2. I could never be this reductive, but this is what I'd like to strive for. This house is absolutely great!

  3. The mightiest pair of scissors I ever saw.