Gachot Studios, almost as a rule, doesn’t adhere to a particular style. “Context is everything,” says John Gachot, who founded the interior design firm in New York in 2011 and now runs the 25-person team with his wife and partner Christine Gachot. “That means being conscious of the relationship between space and materials—how everything goes together.” And they do mean everything. In Detroit, in the very early stages of transforming two downtown buildings into the debut hotel and retail complex of watch and leather specialist Shinola, the Gachots are formulating the interior concept around the existing architecture. “One of the buildings is a beautiful terra-cotta structure from the turn of the century, and there are so many natural riffs on that,” says John. “We also save what we can in terms of paint chips and vintage doors and cabinets to see how we can use them.” Meanwhile, Christine has assembled a development team that includes NoHo Hospitality group and chef Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch and Locanda Verde in New York.
As a full-service studio, whose projects range from Marc Jacobs’s Greenwich Village townhouse to the luxurious Smyth Hotel in Tribeca, the husband-and-wife team have adopted a holistic approach that plays on their respective—and occasionally opposing—strengths.
“I’m doing year-end business reports while he’s knee-deep in shop drawings,” says Christine. Where she describes her personal aesthetic as “edited, like a pencil skirt,” with strong leanings towards midcentury modernism, John prefers the hand craftsmanship of early Americana and prewar Scandinavian. She initially winced at a Gio Ponti mirror John had given her as a gift (“It’s a little bit whimsical, and I don’t get out of my shoebox often,” she says) and John had no qualms with getting an impromptu tattoo from client Scott Campbell, whose Downtown Los Angeles studio the couple designed within a Shinola retail space.
“It helped me get to know him better,” John says.
These oppositions seem to be what keeps the studio dynamic. John and Christine met 20-some years ago as two young designers in Bill Sofield’s SoHo studio; their first project together was gluing stars to the tabletops at one of Rita Hayworth’s annual galas. In 1999 they were married and on separate career paths: John worked under designers Thad Hayes and David Easton, while Christine spent a decade at André Balazs Properties, rising to the hotelier’s vice president of design development.
Gachot Studios was initially a “one-man band,” according to John, who in 2011 opened up shop with a single assistant and a primary focus on residential interiors. A year later, economic conditions seemed ideal for the couple to realize their dream of working together. “She came on and brought 10 people with her,” John recalls, effectively turning Gachot Studios into “an orchestra.”
Or The Last Waltz, Christine says, referencing a 1978 Martin Scorsese documentary on The Band’s epic farewell show that featured about a dozen other musicians. Under her new direction, the studio quickly expanded in size and scope of operations, adding commercial and hospitality projects, real estate development and art direction to its services. “I wanted to take the team a little further, to make sure we’re working with branding, with who’s operating the hotel, with the restaurateur and so on. I find it far more fun to work with everybody on the team, not just our little portion.”
From the clients to the clients’ assistants, to the lighting designers, structural engineers and more, “The end goal is a unified vision between all of the different trades and people that worked on [a project],” says John.
“The best part is seeing other people outside the design community bringing in ideas,” says Christine. “That loosens me up a bit. Our clients have certainly helped me say okay, we can go there.”