Designer Friday: Wayne Turett

A longstanding resident of Tribeca, designer Wayne Turett is a staple of New York City design, both residential and commercial, and always brings unmatched originality to his work. As the founder and principal designer of Turett Collaborative, Wayne and three fellow design professionals use their expertise to revamp and reimagine life in New York through architecture and design. From the interior of Dirt Candy, one of downtown’s most beloved trendsetting vegan eateries, to countless apartments and penthouses, the collaborative’s approach can be applied to any space in the city: “designers and clients set aside preconceptions both technical and aesthetic, to create something new, fresh, surprising, and elegant.” Not looking to do something that’s already been done, Turett and his team ensure that their ideas are bold and big, from installing a metal slide in an apartment to using superinsulation in homes to cut heating and cooling costs. Meet Wayne in our #DesignerFriday below, and take a look at some of the collaborative’s most beloved projects.

Bubble lights liven this modern dining room from Turett Collaborative.

Andrew Joseph: Secret talent?
Wayne Turett: I can spin a hammer like a gunslinger spins a six-shooter. This really wasn’t my life’s ambition. I learned it on the job working as a carpenter for seven summers when I was much younger. I was lucky enough to be able to work as a union carpenter doing the concrete forms for high rise construction in Manhattan. It was a great early education.

Andrew: Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Wayne: I did an offshore sail down the east coast when I was a bit younger. It was a fantastic adventure, at first! There were two of us and the sail was going very well until a storm showed up. The seas started getting rough, the waves increased, it was pouring and the winds blew hard. It turns out that it’s best to stay out at sea under those conditions, but at the time we thought to head to shore… and we ran aground about 20 miles south of Cape Hatteras. It was chaotic, our lines fouled the prop and we were not able to move. Waves were crashing on us and tossing the boat about. We called a Mayday. Luckily the Coast Guard came within a few hours which is how I am here now to write this.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Wayne: Listen, listen, listen….can I have 4 words? Design.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Wayne: So many things! Changing attitudes toward sustainability are inspiring me to take a lead on energy efficiency and to design with more sustainable materials. “Inclusivity” in design is also hugely exciting: this is about recognizing all the parties who are impacted by design and figuring out how to include them in the design process.

Dirt Candy is one of the Lower East Side’s most notable eateries.

Andrew: Best way to take a rest/decompress?
Wayne: I meditate for twenty minutes twice a day. It isn’t really that much time when you think about it. It is about being kind to yourself, giving yourself permission to step out of the slipstream. It really does help relieve stress.

Andrew: A skill you are working on mastering?
Wayne: There are many skills that I’d like to master. (That’s another way of saying that I can really use some help!) The skill that comes to mind is public speaking. Lately, I’ve been giving talks about sustainability and Passive House design and although I am getting more comfortable speaking to an audience, I’d really like to up my game. Communication is so crucially important in design. It’s something that just needs constant practice.

Andrew: Who is your ideal client?
Wayne: I have been lucky throughout my career to have had some very good clients. They have been true collaborators, thoughtful, egoless, smart and appreciative. Designing a project, especially someone’s home, is personal, even intimate in a way, and it works best if all parties come to the table with respect.

About The Designer | Founder and principal of the Turett Collaborative, Wayne Turett leads a creative team with a design vision that has defined his work for over twenty-five years. Engagement with the city and with his neighbors has become the hallmark of his design work.

Turett has degrees in Architecture from the University of Illinois and Pratt Institute, and studied for a year at UP-3 in Versailles, France. He is a member of the NCARB and is licensed to practice architecture in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. As a recognized architect and designer, Turett has served as a design critic at the City College of New York, New Jersey Institute for Technology, Parsons and Pratt Institute; he has taught at NJIT, Parsons, and the Fashion Institute of Technology and frequently lectures on restaurant design for the Institute of Culinary Education.

Turett has immersed himself in the culture of New York City, and has lived and worked in TriBeCa for the last twenty years. His local ties have naturally led to a special expertise in working with –and a special regard for– community and preservation groups. A significant portion of his built work is in the immediate area where he can develop long-term associations with clients and neighbors. With the completion of his own Passive House in Greenport, NY, Turett’s passion for carbon neutral design is not just a practice, but a way of living and embracing the future of net-zero building.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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