In the mid-40’s, the industrial district of Soho in the heart of New York became empty in just several years: the rapid development of technologies demanded manufacturers to take plants out of the city. And huge blocks of abandoned industrial buildings have appeared all of a sudden in Manhattan, just off the Wall Street. These buildings were brightly decorated outside, but represented multi-storey industrial shops with large windows and freight elevators inside.
Abandoned factory buildings aroused interest among bohemians. Large rooms and high ceilings combined with low rental rates made Soho a favorite place of residence of artists.
Holding exhibitions, performances and all the progressive cultural life, the New York loft became semi-residence – semi-gallery. Turbulent social life flowed into once abandoned factory neighborhoods. And it has become an integral feature of Soho. Yes, people got there by taxi, and preferably with a bodyguard, because “you could be beaten or robbed” there, but it was the only way of attending an avant-garde and fashionable world.
Soho was gaining popularity over time. Andy Warhol was one of the first tenants of a New York factory shop. Avant-garde expressionism and pop art born in the very bowels of industrial New York erased a stereotype about the value of things.
These lofts poorly adapted to the housing and poorly heated suddenly became popular. The most courageous middle-class representatives expressed a desire to live close to the artists and to be like them. The “loft” era is a rare moment in history, when artists turned from semi-people into semi-gods.
Loft has changed our views of living space and equated abundance of expensive things to a bad taste. It is not about changing fashion trends, but about an enormous cultural breakthrough resulting in changed attributes of the wealth.
An amount of furniture used to be important; we were proud of crystal glasses and had 8 set of dishes for every occasion. And then it turned out that all of that is junk, that empty space is more important than passionately furnished rooms. The wealth in its traditional meaning as if no longer had value. It is loft that was an ancestor of the enormous minimalist culture that has become a norm organic to the modern world.
Once in London in the middle of the XX century, loft was adapted to the interests of the middle class. Even today loft aims the rich class since we are talking about large space with high ceilings and huge windows, which you need not only to buy, but also to heat. That is why, for all the seeming democratic nature, loft is the place of residence of non-poor people.
Society will always be divided into social strata. It’s just that we used to pay for the gold and crystal, and now we are paying for square footage. If the wealth was previously demonstrated through an incredible amount of décor, gold and mirrors reflecting the grandeur of all of it, now the greatness is in the void. It is the cubic capacity that is a sign of prosperity today. Here is the paradox of time in which we live.
Over time, fashion “for the air” has changed consumer ideas about the ideal accommodation in Belarus. New buildings with the layouts and metric areas allowing making lofts started appearing in Minsk after 2010. These are premium houses and penthouses. Many people combine several apartments into single living space to make a loft.
The emergence of large apartments in Minsk was in the first place a response of developers to the consumer demand. Today’s customer is ready to remove carpets from walls and get rid of Venetian chairs.
Affluent Belarusians have already come to this. They travel a lot, see how people live and cannot stay away from the general cultural trends. Loft is a change of philosophy; currently, open space demonstrates the will to possible changes, the desire to participate in the peace movement through space or even through democracy, if you wish. You own space as a resource.
1. Loft is a space of more than 180 meters with the ceiling height of at least 3.5 meters, weakly zoned, with bearing columns and arches. A small room is categorically unsuitable for a loft.
2. Since the loft was also a gallery, it is almost inconceivable without objects of art, and better of rather big format. If it is a picture, it is better to put it on the floor rather than hang on the wall. In fact, you are living in an exhibition gallery. The main idea of the loft is to live public. Therefore, everything you have in your apartment becomes an art object.
3. The loft does not have propaganda of comfort; it has registration of freedom. Do not get attached to things. You can use them, but be prepared to part with them. It is a theater where all decorations can be changed in the long run.
4. Free space should be two-thirds larger than installable furniture. This is exhibition environment, and furniture is the object of exhibition.
5. Minimum décor. Large active sculptures or paintings. “Paintings are more important than swags”.
6. Be sure to have something “crooked”, breaking the balance or challenging.7. To make a bad loft is almost impossible, because it is a large space filled with a minimum number of items. It can be balanced with any expositions, even dissonant ones. Here is the avant-garde art!
The wealth used to be shown with gold; and now – with square footage.