Creative Icon Malene Barnett

For my Creative Icons series appearing on ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME, I interviewed a wide range of talented friends – some long-time relationships and some newer acquaintances.

Photographer extraordinaire, Maura Sullivan, captured these moments in black and white using only natural light.  The photos and interviews can be found on ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME’s website.

Here’s a little extra from my visit.

Creative Icon Malene Barnett

Malene and I met more recently, introduced by a mutual friend who knew we’d hit it off.  And hit it off we did.  We connected on many levels, especially our keen interest in pursuing a variety of mediums.  We both find that cross-pollination helps to spawn new ideas, approaches, and results. 

Creative icon Malene Barnett with Barry Goralnick renowned architect and designer
Malene Barnett & Barry Goralnick at Malene’s home studio
(photo: Maura Sullivan)

Malene’s creative pursuits cross mediums from ceramics and painting to rug making.  I was blown away by the gorgeous and colorful design of her home.  When I visited her studio, she was painting with watercolors, which would become rug designs she was working on later that day.

Extraordinary bowls and vessels she had hand-created, fired in a kiln, and painted with exquisite details surrounded us.  Her colorful mixed-medium pastel/acrylic pieces graced the walls.  I want to own all of them!

She’s also a strong believer in building and expanding creative communities and opportunities.  As a founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG), she aims to create an inclusive arts and design world through inclusivity.  I was impressed and inspired when I attended BADG’s “Beyond the Mask” exhibition in High Point and witnessed the power and excitement Malene and BADG are bringing to the forefront.  

Creative icon Malene Barnett Davy Desk Lamp Barry Goralnick for Currey
Malene Barnett at home with her painting, ADJOA
(photo: Maura Sullivan; Davy desk lamp Barry Goralnick for Currey & Co.)

Over the next few months Malene is busy (as always) with exhibitions and speaking engagements.  She’s presenting a photographic journey of the Kuli potters of Ghana on March 3.  Then, she’s speaking and exhibiting at NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) in Richmond, VA March 24-29.  Plus, she’ll be exhibiting in “Ceramics Now,” a group show opening July 10 at Jane Hartsook Gallery on 19 Jones Street, NYC. 

To read my interview on ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME with creative icon Malene Barnett, click here.

Posted in Barry Goralnick, Creative Icon, Currey & Company, Design, Desk Lamp, Lighting, New York Design, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Creative Icon Malene Barnett

Foyer Chandeliers: Your Questions Answered

I always tell my clients that the foyer is the most important space in the home. It’s where you create your home’s first impression and it’s the last thing you see when you leave. I can sum up a space from my first scan at the front door. Foyer chandeliers are key pieces that define the entryway to a home. No other ceiling light in the home has greater impact on one’s first impression. Therefore, you should carefully consider this design element.

Over the years, I’ve been asked the following questions and offered the following tips about foyer lighting. This includes tips for choosing lighting for the entryway

Large foyer chandeliers: Does the scale of the chandelier matter?

Yes, scale matters. Many homeowners opt for a small fixture, whose minimal impact underwhelms. Go for the big gesture, instead. If you aren’t sure, you can Photoshop a scale photo of the light onto a photo of your room.

If the entryway is large – double-height or taller – a large foyer chandelier should be used. A grand fixture will draw the eye up and enhance the volume of the space. And if the entrance has a lower ceiling, consider a flush mount or semi-flush lighting fixture. A light that is too large may bring down the ceiling and make the space feel cramped. No one wants to inhabit a space that feels oppressive.

This foyer designed by Ken Gemes at the Hampton Designer Show House uses my double-tier Choros chandelier to great effect. You can see, the airy mixed-metal fixture helps fill the space without blocking the wonderful natural light in the home’s entry. For perspective, the chandelier dimensions are 37.25″ (width) and 43.0″ (height).

Ken Gemes Hamptons Show House Goralnick Choros Chandelier
Ken Gemes Hamptons Show House foyer with Choros chandelier

Unique chandeliers: Can I use a statement light fixture in the foyer?

Hatton Chandelier Foyer Goranick Visual Comfort
The Hatton chandelier by Barry Goralnick

I love statement fixtures. And there is no better place to use a unique chandelier than in the foyer. Remember, statement fixtures do not have to be crazy or overscale. Something unique, tasteful, or exquisitely designed welcomes visitors and encourages them to expect a well-thought-out home.

Fixtures that have gold or silver leaf and crystals add to the feeling of light and height. They are the jewelry of the home. This is especially helpful in foyers without natural light, as is often the case in apartments.

Should I have only one light in the entryway?

Depending on the entrance, you may want multiple lights. For example, in a Lower Fifth Avenue duplex project, two pendant chandeliers, several sconces, and a mirror with candelabra were all used in its graceful foyer. It all depends on the size and proportion of the entrance.

FIfth Avenue Duplex Foyer Barry Goralnick Architect
Fifth Avenue duplex foyer

A long gallery definitely requires more than one fixture, as I’ve done in the apartment below.

New York Foyer Barry Goralnick
New York foyer with multiple surface mount chandeliers

Contemporary chandeliers vs Traditional chandeliers

You can’t go wrong with the traditional way of thinking: Contemporary chandeliers and pendants are probably going to be more successful in more modern settings. And traditional lighting will feel more organic in traditional-style homes.

Latimer Pendant Light Barry Goralnick Currey
Latimer Pendant by Barry Goralnick for Currey & Co.

The Latimer pendant a clean-lined fixture from my Currey & Co. lighting collection, would be just as at-home in a modern foyer as in an Art-Deco-style home.

If one has a creative eye, mixing eclectic designs can be the right move. Traditional interiors can be off-set by a modern fixture, adding whimsy and loosening things up. The use of different styles at once can be interesting, too. Eclectic combos of traditional lighting in an industrial chic loft provides drama. Similarly, a modern fixture in a traditional farmhouse can make the space feel fresher and less predictable.

Is recessed lighting something I should consider?

Recessed lighting can be used to great effect as you enter a home. For instance, I used recessed lighting in a project with a floating ceiling. This had many benefits.

Industrial Chic Loft Foyer Barry Goralnick Architect
Floating ceiling with recessed lighting in loft foyer

First, the floating ceiling allowed for a slightly lower ceiling entry, which then opened up to a larger full-height ceiling in the living room. The recessed lighting added dimension both above (toward the ceiling) and beyond. This provided a sense of space in the distance, rather than cramping the entry.

Second, it provided dramatic lighting for a painting which hung in the entryway. The fixtures are not the star of this entryway, but the light they project gives additional impact and drama to the entrance of the home.

I find the best use of recessed lighting is to highlight art on the walls. It ensures that your art is evenly lit and also augments decorative lights in the room. Plus, it helps to create different scenes and moods within the space.

What is the right height for hanging a chandelier?

Over the years, I have found that people tend to hang entry chandeliers too high. If the fixture is too high, it makes the proportion of the space feel “off.” Plus, the higher the fixture is hung, the harder it is to see anything but the underside. And, when you are able to see more of the fixture – not only the bottom – you are able to appreciate the overall design of the lighting piece.

As long as entryway chandeliers are 7 feet above the floor, you are probably OK.

How do I find the right foyer light?

You can search for lighting ideas on your computer, network with design-savvy friends who know where to shop, or hire a professional with resources you may not find. A design professional will know where to find the best lighting, as well as understand the scale and application of the design.

Of course, if you’re looking for lighting, check out my fixtures for Currey & Company, Visual Comfort & Circa Lighting, as well as Kichler.

Shipping and installation

When purchasing foyer chandeliers yourself, make sure the fixture is UL-Rated for safety. Also, check if standard shipping includes free shipping of the fixture. Crating and shipping charges can be significant when purchasing larger lighting pieces. Additionally, find out if the piece needs to be assembled on-site. I recommend using a licensed electrician for all installations.


Depending on the home and the volume of the foyer, I always opt for a dramatic foyer chandelier (or chandeliers). It is a welcoming gesture that lets you know what’s to come. Be it an iron lantern or gilded piece with crystals, the foyer lighting sets the tone.

Posted in Apartment Design, Architect, Barry Goralnick, Chandelier, Circa Lighting, Currey & Company, Interior Design, Lighting, Pendant, Uncategorized, Visual Comfort | Comments Off on Foyer Chandeliers: Your Questions Answered

Industrial Chic Design in Today’s World

Industrial Chic is a design trend that continues to gain momentum and attention.  The growth and renewed popularity of urban areas contributes to the prominence, embrace, and exploration of this aesthetic. 

Barry Goralnick New York Architect and Design Icon Loft Industrial Chic Maura Sullivan
Barry Goralnick from Manhattan Loft photo: Maura Sullivan

Loft-like living spaces are among the most coveted properties throughout the U.S. and are found in some of the country’s most desired developing neighborhoods.  Whether they are converted factory spaces in downtown or waterfront areas or new buildings designed to capture the spirit of these historic lofts, new homebuyers and renters gravitate toward this less formal style of living.  In addition, hotel chains like Aloft are restoring old buildings and redesigning them to feature their industrial heritage.

Large open living spaces, high ceilings, ample windows, versatile multi-function rooms, interesting details imbued with history, and the embrace of casual, anti-formal lifestyles all create high demand for this style of design. 

Industrial Chic Living Spaces

Newly-built Industrial Chic living spaces are staples along the Highline on the West Side of Manhattan between the Meatpacking District and Hudson Yards.  In Brooklyn, areas from Red Hook to Industry City boast incredible loft spaces.  Similarly, Downtown Los Angeles is an anchor of this type of living in Southern California.  From Atlanta to Denver to Seattle, Industrial Chic living spaces are cropping up everywhere.

Jeffrey Czum
photo: Jeffrey Czum

Interior Design

Interior design’s current generation aspires to a greener, more eco-conscious approach to design.  Industrial Chic – and its newer permutations – lends itself to making greener choices.  For instance, incorporating recycled factory elements, such as metal shelving, found materials, and vintage pieces or accessories, contribute to this melding of industrial style with a heart of green.

Classic Industrial Chic spaces include many of these elements:

  • Reclaimed wood
  • Exposed brick
  • Repurposed or unfinished raw materials
  • Cement floors, polished concrete, or antique wood flooring
  • Exposed beams, pipes, and structural supports
  • Barn doors
  • Factory windows (with good seals, of course, to prevent energy-sucking leaks)

However, industrial style today incorporates a much larger range of materials and finishes. 

Defining the Space

One of the keys to successful design with large open rooms is to create smaller areas within the plan.  Therefore, it’s important to define more human-scaled areas, in order for people to feel comfortable.  While the drama of large rooms and high ceilings has great visual impact, residents and their guests need to know where and how the space functions to feel at home.

The first loft I designed was in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The clients were a young couple who were expecting a child. As a fledgling designer in a small apartment, I was awed by the amount of space that they had. Ironically, they told me that they weren’t comfortable in the vast expanse. So, I created cozier spaces within the loft: seating groups for talking, watching TV, reading, or entertaining.  I even created a life-size dollhouse within their loft for their new daughter to live in.

Currently, I live in a loft that was built as a printing factory in 1910. I designed the loft to be a hybrid between a loft and a more traditional apartment. It is visually open, and I retained the exposed pipes and old radiators. But I created rooms that can be closed off for aural and visual privacy.

Chelsea Loft designer Barry Goralnick Industrial Chic
Chelsea Loft designed by Barry Goralnick

Some elements to consider:

Lighting: Leading the Way

Lighting helps define any space, large or small.  For instance, when an audience sees a stage for the first time, it is the lighting that directs the eye and helps the viewer know where to look, what is important, and sets the visual hierarchy.  Different levels of lighting create drama and coziness within the large space. Systems like Ketra can control the color, dimness, and intensity to focus on art and other features of the space.

Davy Pendant by Barry Goralnick Currey Lighting Industrical Chic

Several pieces in my new collection of lighting for Currey & Company have the soul of Industrial Design, but the glamour of highly polished finishes and jewelry-like details. 

The Davy pendant light, Davy floor lamp, Davy desk lamp are examples of Industrial Chic’s latest manifestation.  Inspired by an antique caged safety light, these decorative statement pieces infuse an industrial touch into any room.

Coffee Table: Signals Seating Areas

The coffee table becomes a key element to any larger industrial space.  It helps to anchor an area within a large loft.  By surrounding a distinctive coffee table with seating, a defined living room area becomes immediately clear. 

Spencer Cocktail Table from Barry Goralnick Vanguard Furniture
Spencer Cocktail Table from Barry Goralnick for Vanguard Furniture

The Spencer coffee table, from my collection for Vanguard Furniture, is inspired by the nut-and-bolt sorters found in old hardware factories. By re-conceiving the typical horizontal orientation of the cocktail table vertically, its cog-like design provides innovative storage and display options.  What used to be stored or displayed on the lower shelf of a cocktail table is no longer hard to reach.  This type of vertical storage makes access to coffee table books or even classic vinyl LPs easy.

Dining Room: Defined by the Dining Table

The dining room is more likely to be a dining area in an Industrial Chic loft space.  Obviously, the dining table clearly signals where meals are to be enjoyed.  The table itself can be an artistic statement, like a Howard Werner piece, which I’ve used in a project, or can be purely utilitarian.

I also like to specify old factory furniture or industrial pieces as accents, such as these vintage bar stools (see below). Reusing furniture is one of the greenest things we can do. Each year, 6% of the landfill is made up of home furnishings (9.7 million tons) [Source: Sustainable Furnishings Council]

Vintage Barstools in a Chelsea Loft Barry Goralnick Architecture Design, Industiral Chic
Vintage Bar Stools in a Chelsea Loft

Open Kitchens: On Show

Open kitchens are frequently a cornerstone of loft living. Therefore, their immediate visibility means kitchen fixtures and appliances need more attention, because they’ll be seen more.  Thankfully, a variety finishes beyond the standard stainless steel are now available. Mixed metals and colorful enamels are making their way into the design vocabulary.

Clients like the cooking-show-feel of an open kitchen.  Easily accessible counter tops with lots of room make prep and cooking feel more fun and professional.  Plus, the chef is not sequestered in another room away from friends or family.  The cook can be a part of the action and conversation.  Or even be the entertainment.  

Bedroom: Separate Is Best

For me, the ideal loft has discrete bedrooms and guest rooms.  Wide-open living is nice, but if you live with others or have occasional guests, the areas where you sleep should be private, soundproof, and lightproof.  Nothing disturbs a good night’s sleep more than the late-night insomniac finishing their book, the snack-scrounging Ambien sleep-eater, or the early-bird workout fanatic getting ready for an ungodly pre-dawn run. 

All of my thoughts on bedroom design for better sleep still apply.

Bathroom and Powder Room: Privacy First

Bathrooms should be private – especially aurally.  Whether you live in a loft or not, no one wants to hear or be heard when it comes to the bathroom or powder room. 

Color Palette and Textures

Color palettes in industrial spaces are expanding.  Neutral colors are no longer the only tones incorporated.  Designers are using more adventurous colors, exploring far beyond the worn metal finishes, distressed reclaimed woods, and exposed bricks of the 1980s. 

Juxtaposing high-gloss finishes or strong colors to the to the staple design elements of urban chic adds excitement to the usual utilitarian colors. For example, A Luis Barragán-inspired color wall or partition immediately contemporizes the color palette of any loft space. All of this creates a newer, more exciting environment.

Luis Barragan House photo: Amanda McCadams

Layers of old paint convey history and depth. Poured cement flooring with mineral or oil stains provides rich color and dimensions.  Exposed brick contributes time-worn facings.  I like to expose a sliver of exposed brick as a hint of the original structure, rather than a vast expanse, which can become dirty and hard to hang art on.

A new product I’ve recently discovered is Magna GlasKeramik at Walker Zanger.  These slabs are 100% recycled glass, which has been sintered (the same technology used to create glass stove-tops), so that they become a solid surface, similar in quality to granite engineered stone.  The different colors are made from different materials, including computer and cell-phone screens, bottle glass, and auto glass.

Magna GlasKeramik at Walker Zanger made from 100% recycled glass

As I look at some of the origins of Industrial Chic, I’m brought back to the book High Tech by Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin, which identified the idea of Industrial Design for the home in 1978.  Designers like Joe D’urso perfected the style. In our era, this look has become ubiquitous.  The style has actually endured long beyond a trend. Industrial Chic has become a part of our international design vocabulary.

Posted in Apartment Design, Architect, Barry Goralnick, Currey & Company, Furniture, Interior Design, Lighting, Pendant, Uncategorized, Vanguard Furniture | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Industrial Chic Design in Today’s World