Pied-à-Terre – Upper East Side, NYC

  • We created an ensemble with an aura of Latin sophistication. The sideboard was crafted from rare, exotic peroba wood salvaged from the siding and floors of old buildings in Brazil. The 1960s orange stoneware lamp sets the vibrant mood of the entire apartment. The 1970s bentwood and cane stool and African sculpture complete the earthy, quirky atmosphere.

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The clients, natives of Sao Paulo, love New York City, and wanted to establish a sometime home there, where their children and grandchildren could visit and they might entertain. To import the colors and cadence of Brazil was a joyous assignment for us, an unusual, less sedate take on modernism which draws inspiration from Latin American architects such as Brazil’s own Oscar Niemeyer, landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, and Mexico’s Luis Barragan.

We adopted Niemeyer’s and Marx’s love of undulating biomorphic shapes in our selection of ceramics and artworks; and Barragan’s bold use of color to demarcate planes and announce room transitions. These architectural trends are hinted at, echoed rather than imitated. Instead of painting a whole wall orange, as Barragan might have done, we brought in this luscious, vibrant color more sparingly: the large ceramic lamp in the entry; the pillows and napkins in the dining area; and the back of a shelving unit. Yet the dominant colors–coffee brown, cinnamon and natural walnut–also speak of Brazilian tropics and tastes.