Friday Five with Matt Berman of Workshop/APD

Photo by Arthur Cohen

Matt Berman is the Co-Founder and Principal of architecture and interior design firm Workshop/APD, a New York City-based company specializing in high-end residential and commercial projects. Berman, along with his business partner Andrew Kotchen, launched the firm in 1999 and have designed everything from luxury single family homes, city lofts, upscale restaurants, multi-use buildings, and even custom furniture. Remember when Brad Pitt sponsored a competition back in 2006 to help bring affordable housing to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Workshop/APD’s entry was chosen as the winning design, giving the duo their first major break. Since then, they’ve established an impressive portfolio of dream-worthy places to live and visit. Along with architecture, he has an appreciation for Blenko glass, the geometry of Russian Constructivists’ works, and unusual plumbing fixtures and hardware. This week’s Friday Five sees what else Berman loves, including a designer, art, special locales, and a little technology.

1. Asbury Park
Asbury Park is one of the coolest places on earth. It’s an amazing town – a real-life phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story. It had an amazing history in its hey day back in the 50s and 60s and then fell on really hard times. We’ve owned a home there for about 13 years and were an early part of the “gay revitalization.” Today, the city has turned around and come back to life. It’s a special place. I like that Asbury has an incredibly eclectic mix of people, social environments, and scenes. It’s nothing like the notorious Jersey Shore of MTV; it’s much more sophisticated than that. The art, music and food scene is amazing. One of the places I am most proud of is a restaurant we designed downtown called Taka – it’s an honor to be able to lend my creativity to a culture and town that has been so great to our family for so long.

2. John Varvatos
John Varvatos for me captures the qualities of design that I really appreciate (sort of Indiana Jones meets architect). I love the honest use of materials and the dedication to craft. You can see it in all of his pieces. The patinad materials are incredible, all worked to look rough and ready yet wearable and incredibly well tailored.

3. Microsoft Surface
I love my Microsoft Surface, it has changed how I work. It’s incredibly versatile, flexible and light. I am constantly on the go and rarely in once place so I can use it as a full computer and as a tablet. I find it incredibly convenient.

Early Spring. The Charming Evening, 2014

4. Wardell Milan
Wardell Milan is an up-and-coming artist who is incredibly creative and thoughtful. We own a piece of his called Early Spring. The Charming Evening, which hangs in our dining room. It’s an inspiring, evocative, colorful, other-worldly piece. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite pieces called The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch – a fantasy world, a hedonistic bacchanal, layered with tons of detail. He deals with things that I deal with as an architect – space, composition, and a tectonic language. This makes me appreciate his work even more.

5. Almiral de la Font
I love all things about Spain and we try to go there as often as possible. Almiral de la Font is a masia (a Catalan farmhouse) that dates back to the mid 1500s, located in the hills above Sitges, Spain (near Barcelona) – and it is absolutely spectacular. We rented the compound with a big group of friends for both my husband’s, and later my 40th birthday, and then again two years ago when we got married there with 90 guests in attendance. It is an incredible combination of old and new, having been lovingly restored and carefully modernized. Anyone who has been there with us always asks when we can go back again. It is incomparable in every way.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.