is a building and interior design studio that works with cultural institutions, forward-thinking companies, and creative individuals to tell their stories through design. We work between scales and disciplines, designing environments, objects and experiences that convey a sense of care and levity.
Launched in late 2021, Civilian Objects offers quality goods for labor, recreation & rest. Alongside an international roster of heritage brands, Civilian Objects presents ongoing limited-run collaborations with contemporary studios and makers.
Bedford Stuyvesant Townhouse 2021
Brooklyn USABedford Stuyvesant Townhouse 2021
Brooklyn USACIVILIAN transformed the interiors of an 1890's Bedford-Stuyvesant townhouse, updating its historic layout for modern-day living. The kitchen and living rooms were moved to the tall, historically detailed parlor level, the private, sleeping spaces were brought to the garden level, and the studio created easier access to the home's spacious garden and maximized natural light throughout.
The project incorporates a playful mix of vintage and contemporary design drawing from a diverse mix of references, while carefully integrating custom built-in storage and state-of-the-art building systems. The resulting space foregrounds contemporary artists and makers while maintaining a sense of comfort and ease that supports the daily rituals of a young family.
Photography by Brian W. Ferry
Bard College Berlin Residences 2021
Berlin DEBard College Berlin Residences 2021
Berlin DECivilian has overseen the architecture and interiors of new ground up student housing for Bard College Berlin that takes cues from the city’s rich architectural history. The fraternal twin red and gray brick buildings reimagine contemporary communal living in a city that developed the progressive housing estate during the Weimar era. The project creates permeable connections with its surroundings and forms a dialogue with the 1970s Neo Bauhaus architecture of the surrounding Pankow neighborhood which historically housed the city’s East German embassies.
39 suite-style apartments along with lounge and study areas thoughtfully balance the public and the private, feature a mix of custom and vintage furniture and form a dynamic gathering place at the center of Bard’s growing urban campus.
Photography by Robert Rieger
German Cultural Center Proposal 2021
New York City, USAGerman Cultural Center Proposal 2021
New York City, USAIn late 2020, Civilian was among 10 international architecture firms invited to submit a proposal to the German Federal Department of Buildings for the renovation of 1014 5th Avenue to house 1014 Inc., a new cultural space for transatlantic exchange. The program includes events, exhibition and offices spaces as well as apartments for a residency program for early-career leaders in the arts, sciences, literature, and business. Civilian’s proposal focused on intensifying the inherent qualities of the historic building, maximizing flexible indoor-outdoor spaces, and laid out an ambitious FF&E concept to make the new public institution a dynamic civic resource and a space for cultural exchange. The proposal was created in collaboration with Stonehill Taylor Architects, Reed Hildebrand (landscape), Werner Sobek Engineers (structural & environmental), Colorado Engineering (MEP), Higgins Quasebarth (historic preservation), and visualization studio Another Angle.
New Lab 77 Washington 2020
Brooklyn USANew Lab 77 Washington 2020
Brooklyn USACIVILIAN collaborated with Newlab to reimagine the interiors of a 1930s-era manufacturing building at 77 Washington Avenue into a cutting-edge space designed to accommodate Newlab’s rapidly expanding community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
The new project follows CIVILIAN’s work designing Newlab’s 84,000 square-foot headquarters at Building 128, a former shipbuilding facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A few blocks from the Navy Yard, Newlab 77 Washington provides six floors of additional space for the burgeoning Newlab community to bring together entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors and industry leaders to create sustainable solutions and enterprises.
Photography by Brian W. Ferry
Fort Greene Townhouse 2020
Brooklyn USAFort Greene Townhouse 2020
Brooklyn USAThrough a series of surgical interventions, CIVILIAN transformed the parlor level of a historic Fort Greene townhouse for an active family, turning the previously cramped and partitioned space into a free-flowing living-and-dining area that better supports the client’s lifestyle. By boldly rethinking circulation and discreetly integrating storage, the redesign creates open, flexible spaces for family life, working, and entertaining guests.
Throughout, CIVILIAN modernized the interiors while embracing and elevating their historic character by crafting contemporary elements that integrate sympathetically with original features of the house.
Photography by Brian W. Ferry
CIEE Rome Global Institute 2019
Rome ITCIEE Rome Global Institute 2019
Rome ITCIVILIAN transformed a former embassy in Palazzo Capizucchi—a 16th-century ecclesiastical residence in the heart of Rome—into a new academic center for the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).
Throughout, the project’s sensibility pays homage both to the attenuated language of Baroque interior ornamentation and the asymmetrical geometries of 1950s Italian design. The result is a space where the program, architecture, and interior design coincide to offer study-abroad students a singular experience that is deeply rooted in the culture and history of Rome.
Photography by Rocco Rorandelli
Exalt Youth Office 2019
New York USAExalt Youth Office 2019
New York USAExalt—a non-profit that supports court-involved youth—hired CIVILIAN to transform a cramped and dated space in a 1901 office building into an inspiring environment that empowers participants to learn marketable skills and find steady jobs. CIVILIAN designed its new 4,000 sq ft space to be a dual-use office and classroom.
With seating for 16 staff, a lounge area, a pantry, two meeting rooms, printing and IT facilities, and two classrooms, Exalt is able to triple its previous level of service. Through these updated and expanded facilities, the organization is better-poised to demonstrate to more young New Yorkers the power of educational engagement as an alternative to criminal justice involvement.
Photography by James Chororos
Shared Living Studio Prototype 2017
Brooklyn USAShared Living Studio Prototype 2017
Brooklyn USAA 290 sq ft living-space for two with kitchenette, in-suite bath, dining zone, separated lounging and sleeping areas, with plenty of storage. Prepared as part of a marketing effort for the boutique hostel and student residence brand Other Spaces and constructed in a warehouse in Brooklyn. Project design in collaboration with Stonehill Taylor Architects.
Photography by James Chororos
Gowanus Project Space 2017
Brooklyn USAGowanus Project Space 2017
Brooklyn USAA 4,000 sf office and studio on the ground floor of a converted Gowanus warehouse. The renovation restored the facade and converted the former ground-floor woodworking shop into a flexible gallery, studio space, office, garage and gym.
Photography by James Chororos and Chris Mosier
Brooklyn USANewlab 2016
Brooklyn USACIVILIAN, in collaboration with DBI Projects and Marvel Architects, was tasked with turning a century-old ship building facility into a multidisciplinary space for Newlab, a technology hub built to solve systemic challenges with frontier technologies..
Photography by Spencer Lowell
CIEE Berlin Global Institute & Dormitory 2015
Berlin DECIEE Berlin Global Institute & Dormitory 2015
Berlin DEThe Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) is a global nonprofit that enhances students’ intercultural skills through enriching study-abroad programs. CIVILIAN led the transformation of a historic factory in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district into an international campus that aligned with the organization’s goal of providing students with flexible and unique study-abroad experiences.
Photography by Chris Mosier
Jardins de Métis International Garden Festival 2014
Grand-Métis QCJardins de Métis International Garden Festival 2014
- Wallpaper Magazine includes Bard College Berlin in their international list of outstanding apartment designs
- Interior Design Magazine counts CIVILIAN among 6 emerging global firms to watch
- CIVILIAN named AN Interior 50 Top Architects 2021
- AD Germany profiles Bard College Berlin
- Sight Unseen features Bedford Stuyvesant Townhouse
- Monocle Magazine features Bard College Berlin
- ELLE Decor features Bedford Stuyvesant Townhouse
- Fort Greene Townhouse is featured on Remodelista
- Domus publishes Newlab 77 Washington
- FRAME Magazine publishes Exalt Youth
- Metropolis Magazine features Exalt Youth
Nicko Elliott, PrincipalNicko Elliott, PrincipalNicko Elliott is the principal and co-founder of CIVILIAN. He was previously Creative Partner at the real estate development firm Macro Sea, where he led the design of innovative living and working development projects including Newlab in Brooklyn, and CIEE'S Global Institute in Berlin. Prior to that Nicko worked on projects ranging from penthouse renovations along Central Park to implementing a contemporary urban waterway plan in the medieval center of Fez, Morocco. Nicko holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto and an undergraduate degree in Musicology from Western University.
Ksenia Kagner, Co-founderKsenia Kagner, Co-founderKsenia Kagner is the co-founder of CIVILIAN and leads creative direction and new enterprises. Prior to co-founding CIVILIAN, Ksenia was part of the senior design leadership team for WeWork, responsible for re-branding their interior design direction. She has worked for leading architectural firms in NYC, London, and Berlin. Ksenia earned her Master of Architecture at McGill University and her undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Waterloo.