PRODUCTORA designs a loft-like home within a footprint of a garden apartment in Soho

Shelf Life

yellow bookshelf unit

Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood at first conjures images of 4- and 5-story cast-iron buildings with large windows overlooking Belgian-block streets. These “loft” buildings were home to workshops and factories but today are home to New York’s crème de la crème. A more subtle and contemporary loft conversion has taken place on Sullivan Street, but you’d never know: The residence opens to an interior courtyard instead of the street. This is Mexico City–based PRODUCTORA’s take on the garden loft apartment.

exterior of apartment designed by PRODUCTORA
A contemporary loft conversion has taken place on Sullivan Street (Rafael Gamo)

yellow walls
The yellow color scheme continues from the bedroom to the hallway and bath; all are united by interior clerestory glazing (Rafael Gamo)

Originally a completely open floorplan, the space now has four distinct rooms: a bedroom, bathroom, and lofted guest suite overlooking a great room, which serves as an open-concept area for cooking, dining, lounging, and working. The interior is home to a couple that splits time between their native Mexico City and New York. “This is a space for creatives to return to, recharge, and let loose,” Wonne Ickx, a founding partner of PRODUCTORA who is now based in New York, told AN Interior on a recent tour.

a dining space in front of yellow bookshelf
The ground-floor loft opens to an interior courtyard instead of the street (Rafael Gamo)

Ickx has known the clients for years: Alberto Kritzler, Harvard’s 2023 Loeb Fellow and his wife Ximena Santaolalla, author of Sometimes I Wake Up Shaking, which won the Mauricio Achar Random House National Literary Prize. Their home is filled with vintage Eames pieces, from a multi-pronged hanging light fixture to the polka-dot cabinet and, of course, the black-leather lounger. The couple’s elevated taste can also be glimpsed in a fun variety of Nelson and Noguchi table lamps and a custom Vipp kitchen.

entry corridor
The entry corridor connects the bedroom and bathroom, while a loft creates a sleeping area for guests (Rafael Gamo)

wood cabinets and yellow ladder
Wooden cabinets conceal a fridge and storage space (Rafael Gamo)

But the piece that brings the entire home together couldn’t be ordered online: The residence is structured by a bookshelf/sleeping loft/entryway system rendered in a bright, taxicab yellow. Custom designed by PRODUCTORA, it was built by a New York–based metal fabricator with few frills. The piece is true to the office’s commitment to single-color projects. It packs a punch.

While yellow wasn’t Ickx’s original spec, it emerged from a design constraint: “To create a strong loft area above the entrance, we needed to use a standard fiberglass system. The grating by Nichols only came in green or yellow,” Ickx explained. He then chose to use the loft to not only structurally organize the new living space but unite it with an almost monochromatic gesture: There’s also a yellow couch, warm hues from the chandelier and the glass sconces, and even a yellow tea kettle. Most powerfully, the yellow grid of the sleeping platform transitions into a full-height bookshelf system that stretches the entire width of the loft. Its “shelves” also cleverly conceal culinary elements on the left, where it intersects with the black-metal Vipp kitchen. A refrigerator, freezer, and pantry are hidden behind flush wood fronts.

kitchen and dining space open out to the yellow bookshelf
The open kitchen and dining area includes a custom kitchen system from Vipp (Rafael Gamo)

The yellow spine also serves as one wall of a newly configured bedroom, where a new window was punched into the masonry. “This was one of our first projects in New York,” Ickx said, smiling, “so I did not imagine how much permitting would be required for one window in a historic building.” The bedroom shares a party wall with a public courtyard, so privacy is accommodated with a frosted glass pane that also adds a translucent ambience to the room. Here, there are other space-saving interventions designed by PRODUCTORA that are so simple they seem inevitable: The headboard of the bed supports another room-wide bookshelf system made of gently scalloped wood, and the door to the room opens seamlessly to lay flush with a built-in closet system, meaning the door doubles as a front door when closed and a closet door when opened.

view of the bedroom with wooden headboard
Custom fabrication continues into the bedroom with a built-in headboard for lighting and storage (Rafael Gamo)

wood elements and yellow walls
Wooden elements help calm the bright yellow color scheme (Rafael Gamo)

With its clever and playful design solutions, the garden loft feels expansive and generous amid the density of downtown Manhattan. The boldness of its sunny yellow spine, now lined with books, ties everything together in an abstract yet livable gesture. PRODUCTORA’s design is the lemon zest needed to enhance a space to support the lives of two dynamic creatives.