By Hardwood Floors Magazine editors
Best Commercial | Archetypal Imagery (Bronx, N.Y.)
Brandy, Noah’s Ark and the winning wood floor by Archetypal Imagery’s Avedis Duvenjian—what do they all have in common? More than you may think.
The floor that won this year’s Wood Floor of the Year in the Commercial category took three months to design, manufacture and install, but Duvenjian, originally from Armenia, would tell you it has been in the making since Noah’s flood in antiquity.
Here’s a brief plot summary: God was unhappy with the people on Earth and decided to drown them all except Noah, whom he instructed to build an ark, which caught on a mountain as the water receded. That mountain was Mount Ararat in present-day Armenia, below which, local folklore says, one of the first vineyards in the world was planted. Duvenjian’s ancestors used the grapes to make brandy, a sweet spirit that would become as traditional in Armenia as Champagne in France.
And when Duvenjian was commissioned to design and plan this floor for a brandy club in Armenia, his goal was to respect that storied history.
“We didn’t go there to put in wood floors,” Duvenjian says. “We went there to put in a feeling.”
Duvenjian, Archetypal’s project manager Vartan Arutyunian and other staff manufactured the floor in their New York location using 150-year-old reclaimed oak end grain—the same species traditionally used to make barrels for aging brandy, and strong enough to withstand high heels, Duvenjian says.
Archetypal wanted a walked-on look, so Artunyunian and Duvenjian studied old wood floors in Europe to better understand how centuries of foot traffic affects the texture of a wood floor. In hallways, that typically means more wear in the center.
Once the 5,000, 5-by-5-inch end-grain blocks arrived at the brandy club, Artunyunian got to work shaping them. He hand-pillowed every single block with sandpaper.
It took one month for a five-person team to install the 850-square-foot floor in a Z-shaped hallway on the upper level, the culmination of two months of planning and laying out the design in New York.
“You’re in another county, you’re flying over there. It’s not all of a sudden you need something and you can go to the hardware store and buy it,” Duvenjian says. “We have to telegraph the whole installation in our shop in New York before we go. There’s no room for mistakes.”
The club, called Brandy House, gave Duvenjian and his team a few bottles of the country’s best brandy for their dedication. Gazing at the liquor, Duvenjian says, “It’s a very deep color, almost like the color of the floor you see.”—A.A.