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Inside A Brooklyn Brownstone by Ishka Designs

Stripped-back spaces are a speciality of the New York City studio Ishka Designs. Inside a Brooklyn Brownstone, the designers knew that needed the perfect blend to incorporate a sense of heritage.

“A home should be able to come to life at its barest,” declares Anishka Clarke, one half of the design duo behind the firm. With her partner in life and work, Niya Bascom, Clarke fashions spaces that support myriad functions with sleek, streamlined forms. The duo’s practice is rigorous and responsible; Clarke and Bascom eschew synthetic materials in favor of natural ones and incorporate their clients’ identities while working to sidestep clichés. This can be a tough ethos to follow, but it’s all done with the goal of “giving more” while using less, says Bascom.

Culture and Heritage

In a Brooklyn brownstone completed in 2019, Clarke’s and Bascom’s skill at designing with both efficiency and cultural context in mind were put to the test. The result is an elegantly minimal home with details that speak to the heritage of its stewards. The clients, a couple with Pakistani and Haitian lineage, were aligned on their needs: a largely open-plan home with room for their young family to roam. “It wasn’t a very hectic brief,” says Clarke. “They simply wanted a space that felt like them.” As a starting point, Clarke and Bascom deployed a circular motif in their decorative choices throughout the house. “We love the principle of a circle,” says Bascom. “There’s no beginning, no middle, no end—only constant growth.”

Clarke and Bascom came aboard just as local architecture and design firm Harper Design + Build finished renovating the historic townhouse, which was built in 1899. Harper was responsible for the interior architecture and preserving original details wherever possible.

A Self-contained World

The house’s latest incarnation features higher ceilings and additional depth on several floors. This extends the already roomy five stories into something akin to a self-contained world. “The space takes care of you,” shares the client. “When we go away somewhere we are always excited to come back home.”

Each of the five floors in the house has a distinct purpose. The cellar, a floor below the garden-level basement, holds a gym, a DJ room for the record-loving husband, and a craft area for the whole family to enjoy. In the basement, an office for both husband and wife makes the most of its limited use of pattern and is adorned with a sumptuous Romo wallpaper that mimics the worn silk of an old Persian rug.

Guests enter on the parlor level, where an airy living room is divided into two discrete sitting areas centred on round rugs that tee up the circle theme. In one corner, the shape is repeated in more dimensions with a 1970s Metafora Lella and Massimo Vignelli cocktail table, a Flos lamp, and a reissued Mathieu Matégot chair by Copacabana.


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