Among the many things that Benjamin Burle had to consider when laying out the office in his Midtown loft apartment was how to play up its high, exposed concrete ceilings and prime views of Biscayne Bay. As in all of his work, the award-winning young landscape and interior designer wanted to blur the line between exterior and interior spaces. At the same time, his office needed to be efficient and client visit-worthy by day, yet moonlight as his bedroom by night.
Luckily, Burle had an expert collaborator on the project: His mother and business partner, Debra Yates, a South Florida artist and design legend who, until recently, only took on a few select projects. Together, from Burle’s Midtown loft and Yates’ Key West studio, the pair now run Burle Yates Design.
The office typifies their subtropical, modernist aesthetic. The first thing Burle installed was one of Yates’ paintings, a large-scale abstract that dominates one wall, drawing the eye upward. Next came a sleek wooden desk, made from a repurposed, solid-core door; a prized pair of antique camp chairs from a Masonic temple that Burle scored on eBay; and sheer white curtains to filter the light. The day bed is clad in a crisp white cotton bedspread that Yates had stitched into a slipcover. The decadent, deep gold rug, which once graced a high-end fashion boutique in Bal Harbour, came as a gift. The ordered arrangement is as much about a way of life as a design statement. “If you’re a minimalist-modernist designer, you don’t have a ton of clutter around,” Yates said with a laugh. “When we’re working on a project, it can be a mess of things laid out. But we have custom-shelving and closets for samples and all of that. Our philosophy for ourselves is own less, live more.”
As a soothing complement to the interiors, Burke and Yates transformed the adjoining balcony into a sculptural garden, juxtaposing plants native to the Keys (like silver thatch palms, bracelet wood trees and pigeon plums) until the right combination clicked.
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What does he love most about his space? “The art, the light, the location and the view of the sea and the fronds swaying against the glass,” said Burle. “I can walk to the Design District and to great restaurants, and this room is such an inviting, comfortable space that the office and the living are in perfect harmony. I never think, ‘I can’t sleep here because this is where I work.’”