Gracious Apartment

Works of fine art by Picasso, Cy Twombly, Brice Marden, Al Held, and Terry Winters hang amid furniture of comparable aesthetic stature in this classic ten-room apartment on West End Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For the clients, empty nesters, we mixed mid-twentieth century design with traditional forms of furniture that speak to supreme comfort. So distinctive are certain 20th century artifacts–icons of the avant-garde of their time–that they approach the level of fine art.

Seen with a magnificent Sultanabad carpet, c. 1900, deeply upholstered English-style sofas and armchairs, and plain yet luxurious draperies, the contemporary objects such as architect Frank Gehry’s corrugated “Wiggle Chair” take on new resonance and context; just as an Ethiopian carved wood chair, c. 1900, seems mysteriously to fit with the undulating mahogany and brass cabinet by Tommi Parzinger, c. 1950, we chose for this project.

This residence fuses luxury with restraint, comfort with discipline, and fine art of the highest order with consummate works of decorative art. It represents a lively and inspired collaboration between clients and the designer in creating a new collection, and implanting its art and artifacts in a home as livable as it is stylish.

An eclectic array of furniture marks the transition from living room to dining room, the latter seen through wide French doors. In the Living Room, an antique Italian armchair by Ulrich Guglielmo, from the 1950s echoes the curves of the Danish Modern rosewood pedestal table, the Frank Gehry Wiggle Chair, and Herve van der Straeten’s “Tornade” lamp.

Surprising harmonies in rich reds, ebonies and honey tones are exemplified by the custom red wool area rug from Martin Patrick Evan; the Chinese camphor wood altar table from Shanxi Province, c. 1850; and textiles from Donghia and Gretchen Bellinger. An aquatint etching by Cubist artist Jacques Villon is posed on a cast iron artist’s easel.

Comfort meets culture: above the custom sofa from Jonas Upholstery in Holly Hunt’s “Great Plains Paisley” are two prints by Brice Marden. The custom coffee table is topped in pale gray honed marble; the walls are in a Donald Kaufman paint; and antique Asian modern lamps are from Glenn Gissler Design’s inventory.

The 1947 painting, “Fugue,” by Abstract Expressionist James Brooks, rivets our attention. Poised on the custom coffee table is an ancient work of Pre-Columbian art, a Colima Carinate Vessel, between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D., from Douglas Dawson Gallery. (Second) A corner devoted to interesting early and mid 20th century design: the Vienna Secession side table by Gustav Siegel, c. 1905, accompanies a luxurious tufted custom daybed upholstered in Lee Jofa’s “Tahira Ottoman” fabric. The modernist floor lamp was designed in the 1950s by Austrian designer J.T. Kalmar.

Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar of 1939-42 hangs above an Ethiopian carved wooden chair, c. 1900, from Kimcherova. On the adjacent wall, above Austrian designer Tommi Parzinger’s mahogany and brass cabinet, c. 1950, hangs a print by contemporary abstract artist Terry Winters.

A quartet of bold ink drawings by Al Held defines this space, where a comfortable banquette in a Holly Hunt Great Plains Fabric surrounds a custom table of solid walnut. The distinctive side chairs are by Ico Parisi, Italy c. 1947, from Leon Hamaekers. The milk glass chandelier with Edison bulbs is from Early Electrics.

"A day doesn't go by where I don't find myself thrilled to be in this apartment!"

– Client

Comfort and earthiness define the Family Room, with two deep, boxy Jean-Michel Frank sofas upholstered by Jonas Upholstery. The rugged central light fixture–a new machine age artifact–was custom made by Daniel Berglund, its frame composed of industrial conveyor belt links. A boldly striped wool rug from Martin Patrick Evan grounds the ensemble.

Two framed collages by Conrad Marca-Relli from Hollis Taggart Galleries invoke a neo-primitive element. A large Nassau coffee table from Williams-Sonoma invites piles of books. The room’s woody quality is accentuated by vintage or contemporary hand hewn wooden side tables, including the round Heliotrope table from Newman Studio.

Soft neutrals create an inviting sense of repose. The king sized upholstered bed is by Baker, Knapp & Tubbs, the fabric by Pollack. Contemporary designer Lindsey Adelman’s chandelier is of oil-rubbed bronze with hand-blown glass globes; the unusual floor lamp is by French designer Rispal, 1955; and the bedside chrome and clear glass table lamps are from Saladino.

A curvaceous Boudin armchair with ottoman, upholstered in Pollack fabric is perfect for reading, illuminated by the Rispal lamp. The sculptural Tetra table is from C.S. Post & Co. Custom flat roman shades in Sahco fabric and curtain panels in Pollack fabric were made by Boaz Sharoni Design. The carpet is from Paul H. Lee.

Senior Designer Craig Strulovitz
Photos by Gross & Daley