PHOTOGRAPHY HANS FONK | TEXT IZABEL SPIKE

Deep within Coral Gables, Miami, Lynne Golob Gelfman lives and works. She and her husband have transformed an existing house into a succession of open spaces around a green patio. They personally planted all the trees and other greenery that now fill the plot. They asked the architect Suzanne Martinson to design a studio and office for them that are in fact larger than the actual house in terms of volume. At the edge of a nature reserve they have created an enclave where Lynne’s art can flourish.

The house is concealed in the green landscape of Coral Gables south of Miami on the east coast of the United States. As you drive from Coconut Grove, with its restaurants and shopping malls, you have to make a detour around a large number of banyan trees which grow across the road, in order to reach the labyrinth of streets where the Gelfmans’ home is located. You need to be a practised tracker to find it! Even when you’ve arrived there is little to see other than bamboo and trees.

Suzanne Grant Lewin, a former design editor and now president of a New York Public Relation’s agency, led the team of OBJEKT©International unerringly to the front door – opened with a broad grin by Lynne Golob Gelfman.

Lynne and her husband bought the house over thirty years ago. In a thorough revamp, all the rooms were designed on the same level and arranged in an open plan. A new bathroom was added and the old kitchen went by the board – undergoing a complete make-over and update. The couple added the plants in the surrounding garden themselves, planting a profusion of palm trees and bamboo, other trees and bushes. At the start they were assisted by Lester Pancoast, an architect and landscape designer whose roots were firmly fixed in the Florida soil.

By American standards, the house is not big and when the Gelfmans decided to extend it in the early nineties, they called in the architect Suzanne Martinson to design an entirely new wing.
Here, Mr. Gelfman’s offices were to be housed, and in a separ-ate section, Lynne’s studio. The result is two rectangular, high-ceilinged volumes, which immediately won architectural acclaim. A terrace was designed on the roof of one of the two buildings and is accessed by a narrow iron staircase. It affords an unimpeded view of the natural surroundings.

A corridor with an illuminated strip inlaid in the floor leads from the studio to the house itself, which is actually built around a plant-filled patio encased in glass walls. Almost all the rooms open onto this central space. The patio itself is ‘roofed in’ with unusual plants, which filter the bright sunlight.

At the back of the house is the porch abutting the sitting room, and the swimming pool. At that point the plot merges into a large reserve where nature runs riot.

Artefacts stand everywhere and artworks hang on the walls throughout the house. African figures and objects mix with Lynne’s own paintings. Some of her works are stacked in rows against the walls and others are even arranged on shelves like books in a library. When we called on her, Lynne was about to leave for New York, where she was to attend the opening of an exhibition of her work. This is not the first. On the contrary. There is a long list of solo exhibitions and the number of museums and galleries showing her work is impressive. In addition, many an important art collection in many parts of the United States contains work by Lynne Gelfman.

Coral Gables is a peaceful place to work and a visitor to her studio will immediately be struck by the volume of her work – paintings stand everywhere, queuing for space.