My Favorite Room: Daniel Arsham

Artist Daniel Arsham’s 2,500-square-foot studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, affords him plenty of space to sculpt, paint, build set models for dance performances, and run an architecture firm, Snarkitecture, with Alex Mustonen. But when he opted to live as well as work there, he confined himself to a 90-square-foot “tree house” above the shop floor. Monica Khemsurov gets the grand tour.


“When we got this building two years ago, it was a factory, and the first project was to turn it into a studio. A year later I gave up my apartment in Boerum Hill [Brooklyn] because I was traveling so much, mostly to work on set design for Merce Cunningham in Paris, and I ended up crashing here a lot. Finally I decided we would build this room in the studio’s storage loft, modeling it after my bedroom in Hudson‚ New York, which is in the bell tower of a church. It’s small, but I’ve never had that much stuff, though I did give up all my furniture. Some people have told me it looks like I’m inside my work when I’m up here. The walls are covered with 25,000 handpainted Ping-Pong balls, which took two weeks to glue on; they make it harder to read the surface of the wall, which helps the space look larger. The mirrors on either end add depth, and I tried to simulate daylight with fluorescent lights diffused through glass. The only part I have left to finish is the skylight. One thing I would add to the space is a water source, because climbing up here with a glass is kind of impossible. I also have to remember to use the bathroom before I go to bed at night. But I’ve never had a close call on the ladder—the ladder in Hudson is five times as tall as this one, so I’m used to it. I’m not afraid of heights. I climbed a lot of trees when I was a child.”