Today’s minimalism design is different from the clean-lined perfection of the past. Instead of an idealized idea of the absence of things, contemporary minimalism in interior design today is about eradicating personality and imperfections in favour of a utopian and anti-individual ‘ideal state’. It is about using the absence of things to enhance the meaning of what we chose to retain; quieting the room to enable the chosen pieces to speak clearly about what matters to us.

The Rue de la Gauchetiere project by Future Simple Studio, is a thoughtful apartment renovation in a one hundred year-old heritage building near the Old Port of Montreal. The studio updates a 1,850 square foot loft through an elegant and unexpected architectural intervention that accommodates flexibility and togetherness for family living, while celebrating the space’s unique industrial character.

A box inside a box for privacy in an open plan living setting

With flexibility and light as top priorities, Future Simple Studio conceptualised alternatives for the ubiquitous ‘drywall with swing door’ room that dictates much of the residential interiors. This led to a simple and adaptable concept: a box inside the box. Two glazed convertible wooden volumes are thoughtfully arranged within the concrete space. They are programmed as bedrooms and used as spatial tools to organise the residential functions—kitchen, living, dining, study, reading, and exercise— which take shape on their periphery. At once object and architecture, each is crafted as a bespoke kit of parts including everything from ceiling panels and mullions, to flooring and furniture. The bedrooms are also outfitted with a series of automated blinds—both sheer and blackout—that transform them from open spaces to semi or fully private rooms. In the evening, when the sheer blinds are drawn and the lights are on, both rooms appear as floating lanterns in an open plan, creating a dream-like atmosphere that defies the traditional image of ‘home’, while providing the needed comforts.

Natural textures and earthy tones insulates the interiors and blends in perfect harmony

The apartment is thoughtfully punctuated with bespoke built-ins and furniture designed by the studio: a poured concrete bathroom sink top, custom bookshelf/desk, and convertible bed frame, to name a few. Inspired by the original character of the apartment, a material palette that is elemental and tactile was introduced; walnut plywood structures echo the earth tones of the brick walls, warm grey flooring and textiles pick up on the concrete, while glass and mirrors emphasize the airiness of the space with a constant play of light and reflection. The ample addition of greenery—including vines and an 11-foot tree outside adds a surprising and soothing natural dimension to the loft’s downtown context.

Through its open plan, versatile bedrooms, and natural palette, the Rue de la Gauchetière loft offers a new take on city living for a young family. Its innovative architectural elements and natural materials create spaces that are at once beautiful and practical for family life. The “box inside the box” concept allows tailored spaces that balance individual privacy with collectivity. The design harnesses the benefits of natural, tactile materials to improve the well-being of its inhabitants. The result is a timeless design that embraces the namesake of the 100-year old building it’s in: Unity.

Photography by Felix Michaud


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