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Wonder rooms
(Cabinets of Curiosity)

Redesigning the ground floor of the Pixelgrade House

PROGRAM ︎ Interior design - alternative workspaces
CLIENT ︎ Pixelgrade
SITE ︎ Vasile Alecsandri nr 5, Iași, România

AREA ︎ 56 sqm

STATUS ︎ Finalised | 2020

ARCHITECTURE CONCEPT ︎ APLUSNOIMA ︎ Alexandra Berdan, Alina Andriescu



TEXT  ︎ Alexandra Berdan, Alina Andriescu 

PHOTOGRAPHY︎ Katerina Nedelcu 

Wonder rooms or Cabinets of Curiosities fascinated people in the 16th and 17th centuries. From crocodiles, minerals and corals to paintings, ivory trophies, measuring instruments and incredible automatics, they aimed to reflect the order of the universe.

Hidden treasures, memories, dreams of universal knowledge and refined beauty - the Pixelgrade House 2.0  is now a collage of curiosities, ideas and experiences put together into a meaningful story.  

The white house on Vasile Alecsandri Street No. 5 în Iași  has a long history, punctuated by many transformations.

After it was built as the home for Vasile Alecsandri’s servants, it was transformed into a printing house, social housing and even the headquarters of the SRI Secret Post.

For five years now, it has been the work, creation and development space of Pixelgrade, a design studio that produces locally and sells globally their own digital products.

From the very beginning, they adapted the space of the house to their needs and decided to separate the work space itself (placed upstairs) from the public, common area, to which visitors, friends, community figures also have access. 

The rooms on the ground floor are used for team and related activities: dining, micro-gatherings and presentations, discussions, meetings.

The old layout — with living room, dining room and kitchen talked too much about the past and too little about the balance and maturity of the present team.

This was our challenge: to shape an atmosphere that tells the story of what Pixelgrade means now, but also how it will evolve. A story about discovery and continuity.

The analysis of the spaces on the ground floor showed that each room "wanted" to host a multitude of activities that more often did not fit together.

To put things in order, but also to leave space for future transformations, we started from the idea of doing less, but better.

First, we needed to understand what is really needed and what can be omitted, what activities add value, and what new experiences would make sense to how space is consumed.

plan before the intervention ︎︎︎

plan after the intervention ︎

We have defined fewer functions and created better contexts in which they can happen, and with fewer colors, objects and pieces of furniture we have created more meaningful and purposeful experiences.

The rooms on the ground floor now tell a story about new sensations and feelings, but also old habits (coffee or kitchen discussions or lunches taken together, followed by a relaxing session with a book by the window).

The chosen color palette reinterprets the colors originally found in the spaces in a more subtle and mature note.

axonometric view ︎

The entryway sparks curiosity and invites the discovery of the other spaces of the house.

Whether you're following the narrative thread of the light fixtures to the kitchen, or you're standing next to the mirror to discover what's behind it, or you turn your gaze to the dressing room that functions as a mysterious filter towards the staircase, the hallway becomes an intro to the home's experiences.

before ︎︎︎

The kitchen remains the main meeting place and functions as a kind of reception for the visitors and a polarizing space for the team.

To cut costs the (functional) furniture was kept as such, only complemented by new storage.

The centerpiece of the space is a three-dimensional and multifunctional metal grid  of "pixels"  (cup holder and light-fixture) —the highlight of the narrative thread.

before ︎︎︎


The dining- room, an “active” space in itself becomes the place where bright ideas and meaningful conversations and debates are born.

We kept the activities in the room simple, focused on meetings and interactions — lunch, presentations, interviews, and discussions with visiting friends.

The dining-room evolves and transforms through a wall that collects ideas on the right and an art-gallery wall that collects art on the left.

before ︎︎︎

after ︎︎︎

The living room, a space with a more intimate vocation, good for studying, thinking and comfortably discussing without interruption, becomes a secret room, a library.

The side walls of the room are filled with shelving and the rest of the space is composed of places that invite you to read, browse, dream and learn.

To encourage spontaneous discussions and enhance the wonderful light and shape of the historic windows, a custom frame was built around them.  In this way, the windows became seating spaces but also frames towards the moving streetscape of landscape outside.

before ︎︎︎

The staircase.  The daily route is no longer just a routine of going up and down, but a tool that invites focus, cooperation and development -- upstairs or relaxation, socializing and learning -- on the ground floor. 

To play with limits and perceptions, the chosen color envelops the entire stair space, up to the last step. 

The transition to the upstairs workspace is a sensory experience offered both by color and light placed strategically.

To integrate into the story of the house this transient space of the staircase, a metal installation, like a grid of pixels, delineated the space. Over time, the grid will transform and will get covered by hanging plants.

before ︎︎︎


The design of the Pixelgrade House ground floor was an experience- design exercise that reflects the personality of the creatives  who harness their potential here.

From calm to socialization, from tranquility to creativity, from concentration to relaxation, every experience and state of mind finds a place within the new setting.


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