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August 21 2014

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Pretty Perfect: Design Pointers From the Pros Behind the New Pucker Makeup Studio in Soho

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What was life like before the rise of the beauty bar? Much more of a hassle, that’s for sure. Built on the concept that busy individuals want to walk into a destination devoted to a single service—be it blow-outs, eyebrow shaping, braid-making, or even skin checkups—without an appointment and be out the door in less than an hour, these speed-oriented shops have been popping up with ever-increasing frequency. To which we say: Welcome. The latest arrival is Pucker, a new makeup studio in Soho, where you can drop by for touch-ups or entire face transformations in about thirty minutes. The menu features a variety of looks (everything from a red lip and dark lashes to contoured cheekbones and bright eyes) and, notably, utilizes the studio’s own cosmetics range, created by cofounder and makeup artist Julio Sandino.

Another standout feature: the beauty of the space itself. Arranged to feel like a friend’s well-edited apartment, it features sheepskin throws, vintage-minded furniture, and a number of design concepts conducive to both applying and organizing makeup brilliantly. Case in point: the vanities in the center of the room with thoughtfully placed lighting overhead and mirrors that reflect your face without being frighteningly oversized. The masterminds behind this intelligent aesthetic are Philipp and Kit von Dalwig, the husband-and-wife founders of Manifold Architecture Studio in Brooklyn, whose clientele includes Italian sneaker label Superga and industrial-cool Gasoline Alley Coffee shops in New York City. For more details on the beauty-focused interior, we spoke with architect Kit von Dalwig for pro ways to scout out a similarly modern—and pretty—setup at home.

Pucker is all about speed and efficiency—did that inform your design process as well?
It was a quick process! We finished the entire space in three months. The time frame was actually the biggest challenge.

So how can someone without a lot of free time on their hands create a sleek makeup space?
We did a mix of custom-built or specialized pieces, which took more time, along with items that were more readily available, like the mirrors on the wall, which are from West Elm.

Let’s discuss the vanity—it doesn’t look like a typical makeup table, which makes it so cool.
We talked a lot about that. It’s modeled after a curiosity table, where you can pull out the tablets and set them on the table if you wish or slide them back and have it look neat. The concept for the space was to have tables where you could play with makeup, along the lines of a lab or workshop. The top is made from Carrara marble, which is nice, because if you seal it, you can clean up makeup spills easily and it takes on a patina that grows with you.

How did you organize the drawers so you can find everything?
We arranged the makeup by how you would apply it. So from the center of the drawers moving outward we put products for face, cheeks, and then eyes. On the top, Julio had the idea for custom wooden holders for the lipstick. We wanted to create a landscape of lipstick without the typical pyramid stands. This way, you can see all the lipsticks and you also have the flexibility to add different colors for seasons. It’s something fun and different.

What else should a woman display on her vanity? Which products does an architect swear by?
We did a glass tray with cotton swabs, cleansing products, and taller items, like makeup pencils, in the center. It’s just the basics. I don’t have much beauty stuff at home. I get stuck on one brand, so I don’t have to think about it! Now I’m really into Aesop. I love the body soaps, and I just started using the facial cleansers and oils. They smell great, and the bottles look nice, so I can leave them out.

Lighting is obviously key when putting on makeup. What was your approach for casting the right glow?
We wanted to step away from the typical vanity [setup] with round bulbs and a huge mirror. Do you really need such a giant mirror in front of you? We thought it better to make the mirror fit the table more, and be there but not be so in-your-face. Then we did groups of hanging lights overhead, which makes them more substantial and also brings down the scale of the very tall ceilings. The brass and copper on the lights make them almost jewellike, and it adds a nice bit of glitz, but not too much.

Who were your sources for the custom pieces?
We used a lot of Brooklyn millworkers. The lipstick display, vanity mirrors, and glass trays were from Reason modern furniture, based in Bushwick. Furniture maker Mark Jupiter made the three vanity tables with drawers. He’s in Dumbo, just a block down from our studio, so it was great when things had to be fast moving.

How can makeup be a “muse,” so to speak, when designing a space at home?
It’s about textures and layering different finishes—glossy versus matte, for example. The plastered wall in Pucker was inspired by that moment when you open a new eyeshadow and it has that great texture and patterned softness to it.

And I heard there’s a “selfie” station in Pucker where you can snap a photo of your finished look. Did you try it out?
I did not—I’m too self-conscious. When I was a little kid, I was the type who turned around when someone was taking a picture. I was really shy.

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