Karen Stonely AIA LEED AP is a Founding Principal of New York City based SPAN Architecture, an award-winning design studio she co-founded in 1995 with Peter Pelsinski. The collaborative practice focuses on both architecture and interiors of various types of projects, and Stonely herself has worked on projects including The Core Club, The Hyatt Times Square, interiors for The Ashland in Brooklyn, as well as many private residences. Along with her architectural work, she makes public service a priority having given her time and design services to a multitude of groups that include The Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Design Showroom, OpenHouseNewYork, The Charlie Byrd Society at The Mainstay Cultural Foundation, The Sultana Education Foundation, NJ School of Architecture, and the Design Trust for Public Space. In 2012, Stonely founded LAAB (Life as a Brain) to help promote and fund research and support for rare neurological diseases. You can also find the accomplished designer regularly speaking at select architectural events and as a juror for annual awards like Dwell on Design, the Architectural Digest Home Show, and more. For the last Friday Five of 2018, Stonely shares her five picks, which range from a favorite condiment to a marine mammal.
1. The Moment When Light Is Captured.
From the oculus along the walls, across the floor, a beam of daylight moves along precise points within the forms of the Pantheon. In Zama, the City of Dawn, El Castillo holds the first ray of the sunrise on the Vernal Equinox each year, a site I witnessed as a child and have chased that ray ever since. These are the unique fleeting moments when we realize we cannot capture light, but we can give it places to dwell.
Whales, are they the opposite of what humans might have been? Living in societies, breathing air, with a song for every occasion, ritualistically visiting burial grounds, sensing their world through echolocation, the creatures among us fascinate me and compel me to think of a life other than my own and how we live.
I cannot imagine and possibly fear unpacking my dopp kit. I will travel anywhere, with a sleeping bag, on a boat, through rainforests and cities alike. We will travel back to the same place time and again because the world is always changing. This photograph was taken on a recent trip to the remotest part of NZ, the Doubtful Sound, where the land reaches the Tasman Sea through a glacial path reached only by boat. In contrast, later in the trip we discovered Sydney.
4. The Vienna Secession.
The artists of the Vienna Secession and Art Nouveau wished to breath actual life into their work, an organically conceived object embodies a spirit. While the movement seriously examined what was accepted as works of truth, my fascination is more secular, when the boundaries of nature and form flatten, what is shadow and light, organic or man made.
5. Soy Sauce.
I love soy sauce, the perfect condiment of fermented soy, who doesn’t like liquid salt? When we lived outside of Sienna I would buy cooked rice at the only Chinese restaurant to stock up on soy sauce packets. One could buy 100 types of pasta but oddly not buy soy at the grocery; maybe times have changed. I make a mean version of a French vinaigrette with soy alla chef Jacques Pepin. After much taste testing, I still love Kikoman Lite.