Chess is an ancient game of strategy and power. Based on geometrical and mathematical purities, it is one of the most elegant games ever conceived. And yet, it is a battle, and as with any conflict, the tension rages back and forth as two opponents struggle for dominance. This combination of purity and dynamism, mixed with a rich and varied history, makes chess a wonderful metaphor for great design.
The art of chess consists of formulating a plan for the chess game and in arranging the chess pieces to accomplish this plan in view of the opponent’s best response. The art of design is much the same: starting with a plan and expecting that the pieces will fall in line. But sometimes, NOT in ways that we can easily anticipate!
For example, I (The Knight) recently been working with a NYC client (The Queen) who bought just bought a co-op in Harlem. The plan is to completely gut and then remodel her top floor of this 1916 brownstone. The galley kitchen that I designed, while small, had ample storage capacity with my redesign and, by moving the gas stove to the opposite wall, enabled us to create a gorgeous peninsula to seat 4 with a great site line to the large common living space. Her balcony, right off the kitchen, is being enclosed and heated and will serve as a formal dining room with a table.
To my dismay, the building engineer (The Bishop) refuses to allow us to move the gas line to the opposite wall! And he is employed by the co-op board (The King) and these NYC co-op boards are notorious for their need for power! Since I can not fight “City Hall”, so to speak, I’m really in a bind. Keeping the stove where it currently sits will present a danger to my client when she and her family sit down for breakfast!
And so, when I meet with her on Wednesday, with the Engineer and our wonderful contractor (The Pawn) I am going to suggest that we cap off the gas line and that she installs an electric range. While electric is not optimal for cooking and for economically, it does provide a good solution so that my client can retain her peninsula and the wonderful site lines I’ve created.
Since this is the first challenge that we have encountered, I’m confident that I can re-group. But of course, there are only so many moves you can make, particularly when the co-op board holds so much power.
Yup, interior design is just like a game of chess. The tension rages back and forth as two opponents struggle for dominance.