Thirty Third Floor Apartment
For a free-spirited young client who purchased a 3,000 square foot apartment in Robert A.M. Stern's 15 Central Park West, we wanted to conjure and contemporize the spirit of Lee Radziwill in the 1960s, when she broadened her circle to include some of the centuries greatest creative minds, like Rudolf Nureyev, Renzo Mongiardino and Truman Capote.
Stern's building is classically proportioned and detailed, echoing pre-war Manhattan apartment buildings in general, and Sicilian born architect Rosario Candela's work in particular. Our architectural interventions were undertaken in the spirit of Stern/Candela, and were drawn from motifs we first encountered in the building’s grand public spaces. New oak paneling and a marble fireplace, centered on an early Karl Benjamin painting, were installed in the living room, and French doors were added to open up an Eastern vista of Central Park to the dining room, creating a view corridor that hadn’t previously existed. All interior doors were lacquered a soft cloud grey to maintain continuity. This classicising strategy created an appropriate cosmopolitan container for a wide-ranging collection of furniture, objects and art, carefully chosen to reflect the client's adventurous nature.
The collection of pieces juxtaposes ladylike uptown chic with radical twentieth century design, the former expressed by the hand-painted Gracie chinoiserie paper, Fornasetti ‘Malachite’ foil and paper-backed silk on most walls, as well as the recolored archival Edward Fields carpets on most floors. The cutting-edge is represented by a pair of towering floor lamps by Paolo Portoghesi, a ‘Favela’ chair by the Campana Brothers, a trio of ‘Strange Carafes’ by Etienne Meneau and a white ‘Pylon’ chair by Tom Dixon that overlooks Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower to the South, mimicking its construction in miniature. Oddments befitting a doyen, like a flock of antique porcelain Chinese parrots, a gilded, biomorphic mirror by Tony Duquette, a pair of 17th century putti and a pearlized Hermes crocodile hide swimming on the living room ceiling are a reflection of the client's wanderlust. The foundational furnishings thematically loop back to Candela, with important historical pieces by Paolo Buffa, Guglielmo Ulrich, Giovanni Garibaldi, Gio Ponti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Pier Luigi Colli.
The client loved the formality of Pierre Chareau's furniture, but the few extant examples were under-scaled and in dark wood. For her master bedroom, we designed a suite of pieces informed by Chareau and other 20th century French designers, executed in olive wood with nickel and horn details. These are placed in a room entirely papered in creamy silk denim, for a very blonde experience. In another private zone, a guest suite located deep in the apartment, with views of the Hudson and New Jersey Palisades beyond, we decided to create our version of a Sicilian grandmother's bedroom, as a nod to Candela's roots.