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A Serene Oasis for Making Music

This article is part of our Design special section about water as a source of creativity.


The first things you notice upon entering Long Pond Studio are the glass windows and doors. They’re huge — the doors are eight-feet square — and frame pastoral scenes of grass, trees and water. Picture windows looking onto a pond would be merely pretty in a house. But in this setting — a recording studio in the countryside near Hudson, N.Y. — they’re startling.

That’s because recording studios more typically resemble gambling dens; they are dark, airless spaces where light and a view to the outside world would distract from the high-stakes act of music making. Large glass surfaces are also a no-no, because they refract sound waves and possibly allow outdoor noise to leak in.

“Having this space has definitely fueled my creativity,” Mr. Dessner said of his light-filled studio. “I feel almost like the studio is an instrument.”

But Long Pond Studio, which belongs to the musician Aaron Dessner, a founding member of the rock band the National and an in-demand record producer, has a very residential quality, with Scandinavian and Japanese design features, an inviting kitchen and even a pair of upstairs bedrooms.

Indeed, the focus on architecture and design has resulted in a building that is conducive to making music not because it’s acoustically correct, but because it evokes feelings of clarity and serenity.

Finished in 2016, Long Pond has already acquired a certain fame within music circles. The first album to be recorded inside was the National’s “Sleep Well Beast,” which won the Grammy for best alternative music album in 2018. Its cover features a black-and-white photograph of the building taken at night: a side profile of a barnlike structure clad in cedar, with a steeply pitched metal roof. A rectangular window offers a lighted glimpse of the musicians working inside. The same enigmatic image appeared on the band’s tour T-shirts.

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