Kips Bay Showhouse: A Study in Sculpture

Martyn Lawrence Bullard

I had heard the Kips Bay Showhouse this year was the best we've seen in years and I wasn't disappointed (not that I ever am).  Every year I am awed by the level of talent and beauty that surrounds me within the walls of the chosen New York mansion.  The show house this year was a study in sculpture, and one of the things that I truly enjoyed was that there was a unified theme, or a similar voice; that of sculpture, surrealism and the power of shape, tying the rooms together .

Upon entering the living room you are WOWed by the enormity of the sculptural fireplace screen cum art statement slash bench by Ron Arad.  Everything else was to work around it.  The sofa looked so soft and inviting that I was dying to cuddle up.  Art in and of itself, with its undulating shape.




 The screen has a good back story and  the mere mention of Aspen sends me into a tizzy.  Tony Ingrao, the designer of the room explained that the screen had been made for a family in Aspen, Colo.: “It’s the only private commission Ron has ever done, and it took a year to convince him.” The room it was made for, however, has “gone in a different direction,” he said, and as for the $1 million-plus screen, “it is possible it could be available.” Do I hear, "Charge it?"




The cumulus cloud coffee table is heavenly under the Cosmic Energy painting by Mark Wilson








Juan Montoya allowed each piece to speak for itself in this artful space.  Another sculptural sofa dividing the room allows for plenty of seating.




It is hard to see the fireplace wall, another opportunity to showcase "art in design"




Byung Hoon Choi created this whaletooth table out of, literally, a ton of stone







Georgis Study in Red took inspiration from St. Patrick's Cathedral that is just across the street.




The custom Santa Sangre console based on the relic of a cross is a surrealist treat.  There are nails and a crucifix on the table.




Perhaps the canvas represents the blood from said cross, and the whole room is wrapped in shades of red.  The only thing to divert your eyes is the turquoise velvet suite of furniture.




Each room held a treasure trove of fascinating things begging to be noticed at each turn.  I fell hard for
Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Assoc. "modern museum" like room.  Once you are able to take your eyes off the enhanced blue ceiling, you wonder, "Have I wandered into a museum?"  ODADA cleverly "blocked" the room like a stage set to enhance the art, important furniture, and sculpture that lies within.  Believe it or not, the ceiling was there and the designer worked around it;  I'd say beautifully. Sometimes your best working with what you've got rather then trying to reinvent the wheel.







Each line, curve, color, and shape seemed so deliberate.






Even the most humble piece has a sculptural quality that begged to make you want to hear the history of the piece.



 John Douglas Eason's landing exemplifies an ode to classical beauty married to modern living.  A fiberglass chair and a baroque console, plus a few precious pieces are compelling reasons for sitting pretty.




Even in this fairly traditional bedroom, Cullman and Kravis added a little pizzazz in the form of the decorative mirror above the bed.  Simply captivating.




Robin Sacks' decorative painting created fine lines in the stair well with complimentary, equally sculptural lighting to accentuate and set off the rooms beyond.




No nuance too was small.  Every detail was an opportunity to showcase the power of sculpture. Chrisopher Peacock had 24 karat gold hand hammered handles custom made in his VERY pink dream closet design.







Carrier and Company applied a beautiful gold marbleized wallpaper by Calico and had sculptural furniture that was as beautiful as it was functional,  for example the Calla lamp from Bernd Goeckler.




Darryl Carter, in his 1st Kips Bay Showhouse, took the opposite approach.  He literally used the underside of an Aubusson rug and created a lazy, serene salon with an accent on accessories that look timeworn but still have their own sculptural appeal.


















The Icon #709



Welcome to my apartment at the Icon here in Philadelphia.  If you've been thinking I have been a little MIA recently… I have.  Putting together a show house apartment, plus my other projects really kept me running.  Last night was the opening of this Art Deco renovation in the city.  I was asked to design a 600 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment as part of a designer showcase they are doing.

My inspiration was the brick building out the window.  That became my jumping off point as an accent color.  I wanted to bring the outside in and I wanted an approachable, neutral design plan, an upscale but casual apartment for whom I believed this place lent itself to: a young professional.  As a young professional, possibly this is their 1st apartment.  I thought about what we all do when starting out:  gather furniture from family members (with really good taste).  I thought about a multi generational melange of acquired items that work well together to tell a deeper story.

It was like the white box challenge.  My first instinct was to create a jewel box of an apartment, but you really want someone, male or female, to walk in and feel like they could see themselves living within these walls.  After all, the point is to make the apartment attractive enough to entice someone to rent it!







Not much to look at BEFORE but here's where I ended up AFTER ~




I went insane for the Tom Dixon screw table.  It's a dining table, it's a cocktail table.  Yup, it's both with the turn of a screw!  The other "signature" piece in my room is the Roche Bobois' Moon lamp designed by C├ędric Ragot.  The diffused disc casts a beautiful glow.  I adore the stainless wire tree stump cocktail table provided by Roche Bobois as well.  Artist Natalie Hope McDonald painted a custom piece for above the sofa.  The Mitchell Gold Bob Williams chair may look familiar to some of you, as I bought it at a fundraiser in NY.  It is the perfect textural accent, proving to be quite a conversation piece.







Every piece is purposefully placed.  There's no room for clutter!  A space this small must be carefully edited, and pieces ideally should be muti-taskers.  That screw table can seat 4 for a meal or be a desk when the need arises.  A few sculptural items and wood keep the space interesting and warm.




The venetian plaster was a WOW accent, keeping things interesting but still serene.  I am always most interested in the tension between the rustic and refined, the old and new coexisting beautifully.







This was a really fun project and I am grateful to all those that helped me bring it to fruition!  I am proud of the way the place turned out!  Funny, I walk in and feel at home...another place I could be happy in.








Don't Judge a Book by its Cover




Thatcher Wine thinks of bookcases like canvases.  His company, Juniper Books, helps collectors and designers curate beautifully designed libraries filling the shelves with custom curated tomes matching their interests, completing a collection, or sourcing books of interest that bibliophiles will envy.




But what sets Thatcher apart from others that do what he does, is that Thatcher also designs custom dust jackets to take the shelves to new heights.  Whether your goal is to fill the book case with (faux) antique books or carry through a color or design theme, there's a cover for that.

The designer of the Icon Spa in Miami wanted to use the books as a layering component for texture and interest.  Clearly they were not meant to be opened, let alone read



If this doesn't a make a WOW design statement ~ It takes the whole room to a different place



The white books and mirrored shelves say contemporary, stylish, symmetrical, and savvy.




His business took off in an entirely different direction when Wine started designing custom covers to "decorate the shelves" of the well fashioned library.  Some of Juniper’s compositions—beguiling patterns, brightly colored spines—are available for order through the company website, but it’s the complex custom projects that seem to give Wine the most satisfaction.  Of all his projects to date, Wine is happiest about one that Juniper recently executed for a golf club in Texas.  “It’s one big image of their course on the wall,” he says about the complex image that required extensive modeling, trial and error.  Libraries like this aren't necessarily for the truly bookish: the books in the golf course clubhouse aren't really intended to be read, just looked at.



If you're a piano player,  you may enjoy this ~  piano keys were photographed, blown up and precisely cut into dozens of dust jackets that create just the right note on the shelves.


A war buff ~ 



feeling patriotic? 



or playful ~ 




With the proliferation of e-readers and iPads, it's nice to know we still need books, even if part of the reason is purely decorative.  It's just another way to personalize your little piece of the world. 




We've been wrapping books for years (remember every September when a new school year began?), so I know it's easy and fun.  The beauty is in the repetitive nature of the pattern and the artistic eye it takes to elevate your bookshelves.  That's where the magic happens.




Clever Idea # 9:It's a sink, it's a shower



… wait, it's both.  Put aside the fact for a moment that this gorgeous bathroom is sheathed in aztec red stone native to Mexico or that the view from anywhere including the shower is to die for ~ what I am fascinated by is the shaving sink in the shower, carved from a single piece of stone.  That's a great way to muti-task!  And a good way to begin your day!

ph:David Allee