One of my favorite movies ever is the Tom Ford-directed A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. In addition to the story itself, I love the film’s focus on modernist architecture and the timeless, chic feel of the Schaffer Residence, a home built in Glendale, CA in 1949, where most of the film was shot.
I was reminded of the residence and the movie the first time I saw the work of Jonathan Sweet, a furniture designer who, with his wife, Tara, recently opened Studio Sweet in the Saratoga Marketplace on Broadway in Downtown Saratoga Springs. Sweet’s rustic, yet sleek designs and eye for detail, he tells me, come from his time living in cosmopolitan cities such as Paris and Florence. “Having the opportunity to sit in the Louvre for hours or walk through Florence and see all the great galleries enabled me to experience high-level detail and allowed me to bring it back and combine those classic elements with my own style,” he says.
Having worked in custom construction since the mid-’90s during the Manhattan loft boom, Sweet now designs custom homes and large interiors throughout the Northeast. “I had such an in-depth experience doing all custom build-ins and then had a couple opportunities to do some custom pieces of furniture during that time,” he says. “And from there, over the years, I’ve really started to develop my furniture as an art-based product.” You can see some of Sweet’s work at Saratoga Golf & Polo Club, where he created the custom mahogany bar and back bar with brass supported glass shelves. He’s also been featured on HGTV, Adirondack Living TV and in books such as Adirondack Home and Rustic Revisited.
Sweet has also been thinking outside of the box, attempting to start a bit of rustic design revolution. “I’m developing this new type of style which kind of lends itself to having a great look in a loft or a lodge,” Sweet says. “It’s a crossover style that’s heavily designed with nature in mind and city detail, or rather, higher-end detail. I am kind of infusing metropolitan life to lake life or mountain living. I could see any of my pieces fitting in an apartment or lake house. I wouldn’t say my pieces harness a rustic style, which is only indicative of having a mountain house, but my work tends to blend over.”
You get a feel for the aesthetic Sweet’s talking about walking into Studio Sweet: It’s like an upscale, metropolitan-y Adirondack lodge. Why set up shop in Saratoga and not somewhere like Lake Placid? I ask Sweet. “Saratoga’s full of art and culture; that’s why I’m here. With all the new tech businesses moving in, it’s a great opportunity for us, as a custom furniture designer, to be a part of these fantastic projects with the area builders and architects that have kind of gravitated to Saratoga. Everybody knows we have great horses and spas, but we’re also experiencing this new insurgence of building and people coming in for different reasons.”