Esther Choi, an architectural historian and Canadian living in new york, found her present Brooklyn loft by heeding the advice of a woman she met at Marfa, Texas, who had jumped to the mountains upon the urgings of her unconscious. “In typical woo-woo style, she leans over to me, looks me in the eye and states with such certainty, ‘Listen to your dreams!'” Choi states, in her finest grizzled, psychic voice. “And then I’d anbsp;fantasy.”
Choi’s reverie was marginally less rustic; a corner attic, suffused in light, where she was writing (in her panties, of course, as fantasy logic mandates) her PhD dissertation. She went in search of the environment and, remarkably, found it, “painted these dull Memphis-style colors, turquoise and fuchsia. And it was out of my budget,” says Choi. But as soon as the rental market dipped she jumped. “It ended up working out, and the landlordnbsp;repainted.”
The big, open-concept, south-facing area was a challenge to split up. “I had to come up with a way to demarcate areas, because, since I work in my flat, it could very easily become one catastrophic scenario,” she says. Choi utilizes furniture to make functional zones for living, working and dining, finds paintings and plants on sight lines and attempts to maintain the bric-a-brac into anbsp;minimal.
When making decisions about furnishings, she favours locally sourced and homemade items whenever possible. For the living room, the couch, from ABC Carpet amp; Home, is made out of eco-friendly, toxic-free materials. The velvet cushion is by a Turkish vendor on Etsy, the Eames table was bought from Design Within Reach and the light fixture is from “Amazon, believe it or not,” says Choi. The artworks are her own, photos of sculptures constructed from crystals she climbed, resembling landforms and architectural structures. “I feel every decision you make says something about you and everything you privilege,” she said. Choi assembles her own furniture when she can and considers how pieces can be reused, re- and up-cycled. “We do not think enough about the afterlife of what wenbsp;have.”
While her living situation is intentionally spare, there are definite regions of accretion. “The books are a issue,” Choi says, “but it is what I do for a living.” Her PhD dissertation looks at collaborations between contemporary architects and biologists in Great Britain in the interwar period. “I assert that two of the earliest residents of contemporary architecture in England were gorillas,” she says of her research to the modernist habitats in London’s famous — and the world’s oldest — scientific zoo. Turns out, the simians didn’t fare well removed from the lush context of the native Congo. “They died of a broken heart,” says Choi. In her own area, she sets her plants so that they can grow better. “It brings me such joy. We are not that far away from the gorillas, younbsp;understand?”
Her next writing project is apparently lighter fare: a cookbook titled Le Corbuffet (a punny twist on the modern architect’s name) inspired by a series of dinner parties she hosted with dishes made after architects and artists. “We’d Lawrence Weiners, which was a plate of boiled wieners, unadorned. And Carolee Schneemann Meat Joy Balls, which was a sort of orgy of meat and couscous and boiled vegetables,” she says. The book, due out in 2019 from writer Prestel, will feature photography and recipes. “Food is a very interesting medium that is fundamentally political, connected to agriculture, biotechnology, sociability and culture,” says Choi, the consummate researcher. “But I just love to cook. I am Korean, it is a part of our culture. And food is always a party. Especially in these tumultuous political times, we just need somenbsp;dumplings.”
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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail