Designer duo Margeza are renowned for creating works of wonder. It’s no surprise that they’ve renovated a rundown flat in Budapest into just that – WONDER.
The story of the Hungarian-Belgian designer duo, Margit and Geza, the couple behind Margeza Design Studio is quite unlike others. “Together we are 117 years old or have been young for that long,” they say. As part of their endeavour to experience new living, not only do they renovate and refurbish old spaces, but they live in these homes for a while before putting them up on the market. Now how does it feel to give away something so precious and personal every time? “Because we know someone else will find happiness in it,” says the duo.
Inspired by modern and contemporary art, they have pooled in their talents and eye for detail to breathe new life into apartments and spaces that may be used for domestic and temporary purposes. Such is the story of an old apartment in the heart of Budapest, which overlooks the river Danube.
The original structure was built in 1890 on Halάsz utca street, and has over the course of years, undergone restructuring and changes and is roughly 1,184 sq ft. In the mid 1900s, it was divided into four apartments. The attic was restored to add two more apartments and the building also boasts of a small and intimate garden.
One of the primary considerations while renovating this apartment was to maintain the same view of the Budapest city. While the apartment overlooks the river Danube, one also has an unparalleled view of one of the city’s most iconic buildings – the Hungarian Parliament. “It is visible even from the bath,” they remark. Personally, we think the view is most spectacular from the spacious brick balcony.
One of the most striking features of the apartment is its blank white walls. This is perhaps Margeza’s way of giving the future residents of the apartment a blank canvas to paint on and thus infuse the ethos of the apartment with their personalities. Peppered with coloured vases, the apartment’s colour palette is a striking mix of minimalism and contemporary art. The latter is brought to further prominence with the lighting schemes that add to the natural aesthetic and light that pours in from large custom window frames that also open to panoramic views of the historically vibrant city.
“We found our own style,” Margit and Geza say. “We like a minimal style, but softer versions are pleasing to us.” Their apartments are reflective of their spirit and style. This can be seen in the custom-designed pieces of furniture strewn across the apartment space, in colours one would never associate with chairs, sofas, tables, artifacts, etc. This is where the designer duo is at their creative best.
The living room stands out by virtue of two striking features: the living green wall and the glass wall. Made from triple layered safety glass, the former is a pathway for nature to come alive inside the four walls of the apartment and is fed by an automatic irrigation system, while the latter offers tantalising views of the cityscape.
Francesco Binfare’s Girotonda twin armchairs in yellow, along with a white wool carpet designed by Margit herself take the visual aesthetics of the living to another level entirely. “The carpet shows a map of Budapest, with different districts rendered with different wool-lengths,” they explain. In the middle of the Budapest shaped carpet is the river Danube dissecting the city, in blue. The red dot in the carpet represents the location of the flat itself, kind of like a personalised map.
The dining rooms finds itself host to a Lelouz table, with Kartell chairs that look like flower petals. The previous design had arched windows which didn’t support an uninterrupted view, and so special window panes were made supported by anchors from the top and bottom. “There are no dividing lines to draw the eye away from the beautiful park,” the duo adds. The kitchen envelops the chimney, almost forming a peninsula. Its counters and the stairs leading to the upper floor are made of Corian.
The minimalist style seeps into the bedroom interiors as well with a ‘floating’ bed and curved cabinet in the bedroom on the lower floor. The room gets its spunk with a red radiator and a giant-sized mirror. The bedroom on the upper floor, however, is the place for quiet and tranquility. “We put both a bath and a shower here, along with a toilet,” Margeza tell us. There is also a small space marked for guests. Behind the sliding doors and wardrobes are abundant storage spaces, owing to the original design and layout of the house.
Our favourite part of the house, however, is the Harry Potter-esque cupboard under the stairs that holds a range of kitchen appliances as well as storage space. The stark minimalism is subtly overthrown by the use of bright colours that pop in every nook and corner of the house.
This makes Margeza’s approach truly unique, and in more ways than one pays tribute to their individual backgrounds. Margit was a biologist before she went on to acquire a second diploma from the University of Crafts in Budapest. Geza worked as a librarian in the EU, and is a curator of contemporary art exhibits in Luxembourg. What a legacy!
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Courtesy Áron Erdõháti