Sometimes, I feel like a lot of great apartments look the same – a sort of endless Pinterest board. That’s probably one of the reasons why I got so excited when I first set foot inside Meghan Boody’s incredible loft. It makes me realize how limited my interior dreams have been…
Meghan is an artist and you can feel it in every detail of her space. She created another world with her own works and a mix of exotic and nostalgic pieces that really take you to another time. I’m sure you’ll see from reading her interview that Meghan’s unique, fascinating interior matches her personality!
How did you find this loft? How long have you been living here?
I found it 20 years ago (gulp!) At that time it resembled an artists’ commune with lots of people living here. Originally a shoe factory, it was built out in the 70s and came complete with groovy curved walls and a Japanese soak tub. I remember coming downtown to meet a broker to see the loft for the first time. I did not know Tribeca at all and told the cab to let us out at Canal which was still pretty far away. We were late and this was before cell phones and my friend and I ran the whole way, she complaining the whole way with a stitch in her side. Luckily we made it and the minute I walked in, I knew this was the place. I kept a few of the original elements from the days of yore i.e the wooden columns, a metal grating covering an exhaust hatch and 3 curious wooden doors in the ceiling. My friend still talks about the time I cruelly made her run so hard!
Where do you get your inspiration for your home and your style?
I wanted a home where the layers of NYC stress could melt away. With that in mind, I was intent on creating an oasis, a place that took me and my family someplace else. I focused on finding wall coverings, textiles and furnishings that spoke of the natural world, encouraging motifs of vines, flowers and wildlife to take over! At times I feel divided about living in a concrete jungle. Humans are animals after all and I think part of us longs for the natural world on a deep level.
What was the process of decorating this space?
I love gathering objets from the past that have lived a full life before coming to me. I combed the web for interesting salvage and haunted places like Brimfield, that gigantic flea market in MA. While my loft was a gut renovation, I wanted to give the impression that the new rooms and spaces had always been here. I looked at old houses I loved and story book illustration and figured out what elements and details were the most magical, the most evocative of a past time and place. That’s how I settled on things like the quatrefoil motif on the balustrades, the fanciful valences, the secret rooms and trap doors and the plaster crown moldings and rosettes alive with vines and creatures. Then, to mix it up, I added punchy modern furnishings with slick, bright surfaces. The idea of the “antiquated future” is something that intrigues me. I’d like to go there.
Most of the art here is yours, who are your inspirations as an artist?
I find myself inspired by great storytellers that are interested in uplifting the human spirit, like Hans Christian Anderson and Edmund Spencer who wrote “The Faerie Queene.” These stories are based on myths that are imbedded in our collective mind. When you read them, the experience feels familiar and becomes a process of remembering. And that becomes a pathway into feeling personally involved and implicated. We were there before. I want the stories I tell with my art to have that same degree of accessibility, that same emotional impact. Some contemporary masters of storytelling that I admire are Mathew Barney, Marco Brambilla and AES + F. They do this very well.
I am also fascinated in how the human mind works and how we can we can stimulate change in ourselves and others. Through fantastical story and metaphor, my work examines how we transform and birth new selves and I often look to the work of Freud, Jung and Joseph Campbell for guidance.
You have paintings, sculptures and drawings, how would you define yourself as an artist?
Actually those large-scale images that you are referring to are digital photographs, but people often refer to them as paintings and I like that. Perhaps I am a covert painter masquerading as a photographer! You could say that the way I deal with composition is more studied and deliberate, more immediately painterly. I also make dioramas and interactive light boxes and have now branched into video.
You might have gotten the drift by now that I am very interested in story and think of myself foremost as a storyteller. I create series of narrative photographs or dioramas that mirror the themes and leitmotifs of my life. By casting my alter-egos and avatars into strange worlds and predicaments, I hope to learn more about my own real world challenges. I am convinced that we are all thirsting for greater meaning in these unprecedented times and I hope to give a glimmer of light to my viewer as they contemplate their own lives.
Do you work in the loft?
Yes, the irony is that I have this big, light filled space and I find myself working in a tiny, windowless studio. My thinking is that since much of my work is on the computer, low light is best. When I make sculpture, I take over the main room and threaten to trash the place every time.
What is your favorite room and why?
I experience a little thrill ever time I go up to my “tea salon.” That’s my secret room with the tiny stairs behind the cupboard door. I know, it’s kind of a pretentious name, but I love the idea that I can have a room devoted to something that is so old world and so unnecessary. The proportions are minuscule, very Alice, and there’s a wall of cubbies devoted to tchotchkes and figurines grouped in couples. According to Feng Shui, images and figures of pairs throughout the home promote a harmonious love life.
Do you consider the space a work in progress? Do you see it evolving?
These days I am more focused on making art that goes out into the world. And I find that if I simply let things be, the natural cycle of attrition and decay (and a resident cat with claws!) makes sure that a certain amount of updating and spiffing up is a regular part of my life. My club chairs are on their third upholstery. Sigh.
Art is such a central part of your space, how do you decide on the placement of your pieces, do you ever move things around?
When it comes to placing a piece, I think about enchantment and the element of surprise – how I can make the experience of being in that room a little more magical. I just made a piece called “ A Guide to Best Mating Practices,” which is a bunch of mini dioramas about dating inside an artillery case. I decided this would be perfect for the “Tea Salon”, a doll house within a doll house and a fun experience for anyone who dares to unhook the latch and open it! And along with all the figurines of couples, the little space becomes a veritable hot house of intimacy and relationships!!
Tell us more about this amazing daybed…
That was acquired by my ex-husband after a late night poker game. He was playing with a colleague who did business in the far east and this was what he threw into the pot! It came to us in pieces that looked about as impressive as a heap of firewood. We were in the process of renovating and my ex kept talking about this as the centerpiece of our home and I kept thinking, “yeah, like hell.” Until one day, after some TV sporting event, he and his buddies pieced it together and boy did I fall over in surprise. I think it’s the best thing he ever gave me.