Salt Furniture


Location Upper West Side
Rent $2,000 [market]
Square feet 500 with 1,200-square-foot terrace [penthouse of former pre-war hotel]
Occupants Evan Bennett and Silvia Fuster [architects]

This building is not as luxurious as I thought it would be. The vent in the elevator is coughing. No one is at the desk. [Silvia] When we moved in, it looked like a frat house, broken tiles. [Evan] Asphalt roof. Our first question was, How strange is this? [Silvia] The owner lives in Israel. [Evan] He comes once a month.

At first I thought you lived in the Milburn Hotel nearby. [Silvia] There’s a nudist colony on top. Are they all always nude? [ Evan] They’re regularly partially nude. [Silvia] Maybe we just notice them when they’re nude. Except for the guy writing in a white T-shirt and glasses. He might be nude from the waist down. [ Evan] We get watched just like they do. [Silvia] We spent a lot more time out here last year, before the wedding thing.

Weren’t you just married in a castle in Spain? Yes, in my mother’s village.

I heard there’s a salt mine. It’s been mined since Roman times.

You mentioned that you’re going to be designing furniture out of salt? [ Evan] We’re researching the material.

People will want to lick the chairs. Well, who knows.

Where are you from, Silvia? [ Silvia] I was educated here. Summers and Christmas, we went to Spain. I grew up on East 75th. I was born in Minnesota. My father’s a heart specialist at the Mayo Clinic. We spoke Catalan at home. It’s very international in Minnesota. [ Evan] I’m from Aurora, New York. Wells College is there. [Silvia] We met our junior years abroad. Columbia architecture school has a New York—Paris program. [ Evan] We lived with a group of friends on a houseboat. [Silvia] It wasn’t like a yacht. [ Evan] It was like a big thumb. [ Silvia] With Astroturf. Mr. Fioleau, the landlord, came and took us for a ride. [ Evan] He took our apartment underneath the Boulevard Richard Lenoir.

What is that container? [ Silvia] An ashtray made of Bazooka gum wrappers in Hebrew. It’s full of olive pits. . . . [ We discuss the dog.] We moved into this apartment before we had the dog. [Evan] Our friend Rufus found him wandering around the streets of New Jersey. He gained 40 pounds since we got him. [Silvia] People were feeding him through cracks in car windows like they were on safari.

His head is so big. He’s not super-smart. If he were that big and smart, it would be a problem. His butt is couch height. My parents’ building . . . [Evan] . . . has a 25-pound limit.

When he opens his mouth, there’s a whole world in there. He’s so wanting. There’s something restful about him. [Silvia] It’s very relaxing. You can learn from dumbness. I think mostly he’s dumb but not self-conscious. [Evan] He’s dumb but secure. [Silvia] We’re all dumb in certain ways. I’m sure he’s talented in many ways.

Now your wedding . . . It lasted four days. [Evan] I got food poisoning on the plane on the way back. [Silvia] He spent the whole time in the bathroom. [Evan] I threw up on the snack table. When we came back to the apartment, all the trees had died, all the books had fallen.

You’re holding up a jagged fragment of wood. It’s a piece of the coffee table. Basically there were four shelves, 40 feet, of architecture books that fell on the floor. The inside wall was destroyed. [Silvia] The plants outside were all destroyed. It was so hot while we were gone. Climatically it was 100 degrees. There was so much heat on this box. [Evan] We thought the walls got so hot and holes expanded and I think the plastic anchors got soft. [Silvia] We’re at the point where the terrace looks better at night.