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The New Formal INTERIORS BY JAMES AMAN
JAMES AMAN FOREWORD BY EMILY FISHER LANDAU Written with Mark Stephen Archer Photographs by Karen Fuchs The Monacelli Press The New Formal INTERIORS BY JAMES AMAN
Contents Foreword Emily Fisher Landau 7 Preface 9 Park Avenue Aerie 13 Beekman Place Duplex 33 Greenwich Georgian 57 Palm Beach Regency 79 Carnegie Hill Townhouse 99 Breakers Oceanfront Retreat 127 Inside and Out 141 Park Avenue Combination 163 Lake Worth Adventure 187 Contemporary and Classic 209 Contributors 228 Acknowledgments 231
met Jim Aman in the mid-1990s when I was thinking about ways to enhance the environment for my personal art collection at my apartment in Manhattan. I knew there had to be a better way to organize and display my paintings, sculpture, photographs, and Asian pottery, and I felt it was important to bring in new ideas and refresh the minimalist aesthetic from the 1970s. I had recently opened a new Center for Art in Long Island City, but I hadn't focused attention on my own needs. A friend of mine suggested Jim after seeing my reaction to his work. 'Jim is very talented,' she told me. 'I think you'll like him.' She was so right. From the start, Jim impressed me as a person with a clear vision and a 'we can do it? spirit that is always the mark of a great collaborator. His designs succeeded in combining the traditional with the modern and glamorous in a kind of 'simpatico? relationship. At the same time, I felt Jim had some of the important qualities of artists whose works I've admired and collected over the years: knowing how to edit and not overwhelm the work and knowing when to stop and let it breathe. Jim also had a special talent for highlighting the furniture in my collection. In those days, furniture-as-art pieces by the likes of Alberto Giacometti and Claude Lalanne were not as appreciated as they are today. Art Deco styling was fading in popularity, and Chinese furniture was rarely seen in the best homes. Jim managed to blend these design approaches in a new formal way that I think is as timeless as it is sophisticated and elegant. His approach is straightforward. Jim exercises the same kind of rigorous selection in choosing quality furnishings as I do in choosing new additions to my collections. For him, the art doesn't begin and end with the paintings on the wall; he treats the entire environment as a work of art. Jim's eye for detail is extremely sharp. He knows how to add just the right touch'and impact'with a small, fanciful piece, and he's adept at editing the overdone and extraneous. I also like his willingness to take risks and not rely on simple solutions or tried-and-true formulas. Jim is very persuasive. He makes'me'think about some of my own'choices'and, believe me, that's'saying'something'and he's not'about to sacrifice comfort or style by'turning'an art-filled home into a stark, sterile museum. Jim is also not one to override or control the design collaboration. At the same time, I was drawn to Jim's unassuming attitude and his wry sense of humor. We take joy in talking about the things we love and cherish in our homes. My children and grandchildren enjoy the surroundings as much as I do, and we all are happier for being in such welcoming yet still visually exciting spaces. Interestingly enough, among all the elements I like to think we share, Jim and'I grew up with a similar problem: we both had trouble reading in school. For years, I coped as well as I could with this affliction, and it wasn't until I was fifty-six years old that'I was diagnosed as dyslexic. Jim found out about his own condition much earlier and, fortunately, received the support and treatment to overcome this all-too-common learning disability.' But I suppose dyslexia may have led us down a similar path. Our difficulty in dealing with theprinted word may explain to some extent our lifelong fascination with the visual arts'a world with limitless boundaries for the imagination and none of the constraints associated with sentences and paragraphs.' Truthfully, I can't think of a better kind of relationship to have with someone who's helping to shape your world and make it more inviting and beautiful. What started as a professional partnership has grown into a valuable friendship'and that makes me very happy indeed.' Over the years, I've introduced Jim to my family and friends, many of whose lovely properties and spectacular art collections are featured in this book. If you aren't familiar with his work, let me share a bit of information that I never hesitate to tell anyone who's looking for a new interior designer:''Jim is very talented. I think you'll like him.' Foreword Emily Fisher Landau
The written word has always presented a challenge to me. Growing up with dyslexia, I looked on reading and writing as chores, and I always felt there had to be better ways to communicate my thoughts and feelings. Lacking the skills of most painters, musicians, and performing artists, I suppose I turned to the decorative arts as a way to express myself, to give life some shape and meaning, and to bring beauty, elegance, and harmony into my world. In the simplest sense, I guess I always felt the need to express something that, to paraphrase Hopper, was beyond words'and I found that expression in interior design. The New Formal is a reflection of my passion for decorating. It's a visual representation of my thought process in creating interiors and making art the focal point of those spaces. Early on I realized that my client base represented a new generation of collectors. They respected classic traditions but savored the beauty and drama of cutting-edge art. Their vision of 'formal? living replaced the Old Masters, heavy tapestries, and ornate furnishings of previous generations with contemporary, often provocative works of art that inspire and delight in brighter, more open spaces. Of course, when I began my own business twenty years ago, I never thought about creating a book. Back then, my focus was on finding clients, making sure projects were moving along smoothly, lining up my next job, meeting budgets, and managing expenses. And, if I ever had any free time'which still often eludes me? I would try to enjoy all that New York City had to offer. In many ways, that focus has not changed much over the years. I still worry. I still juggle projects. I still try to balance my work and social life. But at least now I have a much greater sense of confidence and accomplishment than I did back in the last century, and I have colleagues and associates to help with the follow-up and follow-through. Plus, I now have enough stories to tell and pictures to share'along with some hard-won advice'to actually fill the pages of a book. That feeling of satisfaction or general contentment hasn't always been part of my nature. As a restless kid growing up in Short Hills, New Jersey, there was always something better on the horizon, one gleaming light in the distance, the place I wanted to be more than any other in the world: New York City. Not surprisingly, my strongest memories from childhood were making the forty-five-minute drive with my parents to see Broadway shows and being fascinated by the ways in which furniture and scenery would transform the stage. For me, those stage sets, those worlds in which the characters lived, were every bit as interesting as their stories and dialogue. It was something I thought about all the time. I would put my new-found theatrical knowledge to good use at home, rearranging the living room furniture and moving artwork and mirrors from one wall to another. Since I had so much trouble with printed words and numbers, my grades were poor and they didn't really improve until middle school, when I had the opportunity to take arts classes and experiment with painting and life drawing. That's when I also had the chance to participate in theater productions, usually as a member of the stage crew, and go on field trips to museums in New York and Philadelphia. One of the few books I remember is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a children's 'classic? of sorts that was adapted into a film in the 1970s with Ingrid Bergman and again in the 1990s with Lauren Bacall. It tells the story of Claudia, a twelve-year-old girl, and Jamie, her nine-year-old brother, who run away from home and choose to live'of all places'in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Most of my friends thought the book was ridiculous, but I thought it made perfect sense. What better place to live than one of the most magnificent structures in the world'on no less than Fifth Avenue'in the heart of New York City? And what better surroundings than the most beautiful paintings and sculptures on earth? I can't remember what Claudia and Jamie's parents did to make them want to run away in the first place. But can anyone think of a better hiding place than the Met? Seriously, kudos to those kids! If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint. 'Edward Hopper Preface
10 I may not have completely understood at the time, but I think that's when the notion of living with art began to appeal to me. I filled the walls of my room with posters and magazine clippings and tried to create spaces that were beautiful and inspiring. Although I was fascinated with art, I had to admit at a relatively early age that I didn't have the inherent talent to be an artist. The interest may have been there, but I just didn't seem to have the inclination or perhaps the patience to succeed as a painter or sculptor. That's probably why I chose to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and major in advertising and graphic design, a field that I thought would eventually help me in my true passion: interior design. Most of the professors at Pratt taught only a few classes and spent most of their time not as academics but as real business people. They managed payrolls. They built client bases. They kept customers satisfied. That's where I learned a lesson that applies as much to interior decorating as it does to advertising or virtually any creative enterprise: the importance of salesmanship. I realized that to succeed in the design business meant developing an essential skill: the ability to ask clients to understand your vision, to take a huge leap of faith and commit a great deal of time and money on little more than a promise, a few fabric samples, some paint swatches and floor plans, and perhaps a furniture rendering or two. I also realized that a testimonial from a satisfied client could go a long way in opening doors to new clients and in building the trust and confidence that are so important in the collaborative design process. These business and life lessons continued when I had the opportunity to put my freshly minted degree to work as part of the Creative Services Team at Polo Ralph Lauren. I may not have realized it when I first came on board, but my time with Ralph Lauren was literally a 'master class? in merchandising. I discovered firsthand how critical the aesthetics of the environment were to the overall selling process. I learned how to give a residential feel to magnificent buildings, like the Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue, and transport buyers to a very special and inviting space. I saw how to incorporate simple solutions such as home-like seating areas into luxurious interiors where, lo and behold, there was beautiful, quality merchandise just waiting to be purchased. And I learned how to highlight artwork and special collections to enhance any setting and add a touch of history, fantasy, drama, or glamour. Of course, as part of the Ralph Lauren team, I also learned that trends come and go, but quality endures. I refined my own aesthetic to incorporate respect for tradition and timeless elegance with an eye for the unusual or quirky, combining traditional and contemporary elements'what, for lack of a better word, is often called the 'transitional? style. I also came to realize how much the decorative arts share with the visual or performing arts, with fabrics, furniture, pictures, and furnishings substituting for paints or canvases or musical scores. Earlier part-time jobs in store design and window display at places like Bonwit Teller taught me many of the fundamentals. But my decade with Ralph Lauren, whom I consider a true artist and visionary as well as one of the greatest marketing geniuses of all time, definitely made me a more capable and confident designer. In fact, under his tutelage, I gained the confidence to take a leadership position at a smaller boutique firm that was a Polo licensee and eventually to launch my own business, carving out a niche for myself in a demanding and highly competitive arena. What started as just a few freelance jobs twenty years ago has grown'exclusively by referrals and word of mouth'into a rewarding enterprise, with just the right number of people to handle just the right number of projects. I have been extremely fortunate to work with a group of clients who have the same high standards for their home interiors as they do for their remarkable art pieces. I've had the opportunity to create an environment for collections of modern and contemporary art in magnificent houses and landmark buildings, many of which are works of art in their own right. And I've been blessed to live in the most visually stimulating and inspiring city in the world where the best resources, artworks, and antiques are readily accessible. I've created a niche for my firm through social contacts who have introduced me to a wider circle of art patrons. Their needs and tastes may vary, but they share a forward-looking approach to art for which my transitional style'bridging the gap between the classic and the contemporary'is well suited. Most of them have their own art curators and installers for their collections, and my team has been able to work closely with theirs to ensure that their art is displayed to its best advantage. Partnering with John Meeks, who is a skilled designer and comes from a distinguished family of custom-furniture makers, has enhanced our ability to create one-ofa-kind pieces to complement the museum-quality collections After all these years, my team remains small'no more than six or seven people. That's because I've always considered mine a 'boutique? business. And it's because my clients have always expected me to be a 'hands-on? presence. The truth is that I want to do everything, and that's why I haven't wanted my business to grow to a point where my role would be limited or specialized. Frankly, I'm having too much fun to do it any other way. There is no substitute for the feeling of elation that arises when the client understands the vision and is pleased with the end result. A finished interior is just like a finished work of art, a kind of self-expression that, to paraphrase Edward Hopper again, is often beyond words. Whether it's the placement of accessories on a coffee table, the details of an embroidery design, or the way two fabrics complement an antique rug, the art is everywhere, not just hanging on the wall or displayed on a pedestal. The dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp once said, 'Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.' I hope the readers of The New Formal will lose themselves in the creativity featured in these rooms and find new ways to let the transportive power of art enhance their lives as well as their living spaces.
13 Park Avenue Aerie When I started my design career in New York, I worked as part of a team in a nondescript commercial office building on Madison Avenue. Though the work environment was ordinary, my cramped cubicle was only a few blocks from the palatial apartment buildings that line Park Avenue in that very special enclave known as Lenox Hill. On my way to work, I would stroll through the neighborhood and marvel at these monumental prewar buildings with their majestic limestone facades, magnificent proportions, and superb architectural details. What was their history? What did the apartments look like inside? Little did I realize at the time that one of my earliest commissions would take me to a truly legendary apartment at one of these coveted addresses: 720 Park Avenue. I still remember the feeling of awe and exhilaration when I first entered the building and took the elevator to the client's apartment. The original owner was Jesse Isidor Straus, the son of R. H. Macy's founder Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who both tragically lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic. In the 1920s, Straus had contracted with the preeminent architect Rosario Candela and the sought-after team of John and Eliot Cross to design the building, reserving the most spacious and loftiest apartment for his family. Though altered over time, the original duplex set a standard for luxury that is almost unimaginable today, with a 40-foot entrance gallery, a 36-foot library, seven bedrooms, a sewing room, and a kitchen so spacious that it could easily accommodate most modern living rooms. It remains one of Candela's crowning achievements'with panoramic views, ideal light conditions, harmonious proportions, and timeless, elegant details. The challenge in redecorating was straightforward: to showcase the art collection while respecting the history, beauty, and integrity of the apartment and its grand ceremonial rooms in an environment that was warm and inviting for family life. After all, the apartment was the owner's principal residence. She wanted to be sure it highlighted her passion for art but was still welcoming and comfortable for her children, grandchildren, colleagues, and friends. Of course, making room for art may sound like a standard assignment for an interior designer. But when the collection includes more than 1,200 pieces and features works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand L'ger, Mark Rothko, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol, then the project takes on a very special dimension. And when the collection is so vast and the quality so extraordinary that the owner has a museum of her own to share it with the public, then finding the right pieces for home display and creating appropriate settings becomes especially daunting. But museums and homes are places apart. My client recognized that the paintings and sculptures she had collected'and, in fact, most works of art'were never intended to be displayed in institutions. The artists, she understood, wanted their patrons to 'live? with their creations'to make the art part of their environment, to inspire and delight them, to harmonize with their surroundings and furnishings, to complement the way they lived, to give their life shape. And she knew this from personal experience, having recognized the brilliance of these artists early on and befriended many of them at the start of their careers. Fortunately, my client has an eye for architectural integrity as sharp as her eye for art. Even though she had undertaken gut renovations on other properties and was aware of the advantages of a blank slate, she understood that the apartment was unique, a special place that deserved the utmost respect. What we strove to create was an appropriate backdrop for her art collection'not bare-bones and minimalist, but simple and elegant. We wanted to keep the focus on the art without discarding the classic moldings and fine craftsmanship or making the residence an unlivable 'white box? with stark walls and large, empty spaces. Simply stated, we started out with the idea that the art would come first'the 'star? of the show, as it were'with the color palettes and textures and fabrics and accent pieces as complements. When major works by Picasso and Dubuffet face each other across a room, it's not likely that the furnishings will be the first The object of art is to give life shape. 'Pablo Picasso Opposite In the entryway, works by Andy Warhol and Fernand L'ger bring color to the neutral palette.
15 Footer Left In the living room, original moldings frame Femme ? la Montre by Picasso. Neutral silk damask contrasts with the metals of the Giacometti nesting tables and the sculpture Torse Vegetal by Jean Arp. The octagon table by master cabinetmaker Eug'ne Printz salutes the apartment's Art Deco origins.
16 Park Avenue Aerie Opposite A bust of Diego Giacometti by his brother Alberto rests on the Claude Lalanne ginkgo table. The silvery finish of the table blends with the hints of platinum and gray throughout the room. elements to catch the eye. But when a Giacometti coffee table is added to the mix and a portrait by Andy Warhol (one of six he created of the owner) hangs in the entryway, the need for subtlety and restraint becomes paramount. First up'and essential in any design project involving art'was the lighting. Fortunately, Candela's plans created rooms with expansive views and windows that maximize daylight. But, over the years, the introduction of track lighting and recessed fixtures had left their mark, interrupting the flow of spaces and distracting from key elements in the rooms. We replaced these with small, unobtrusive fixtures that highlight the art and illuminate conversation areas. Of course, the dining room, with its walls hung with works by L'ger, Rothko, and Ruscha, demanded an imposing light fixture. We chose an eighteenth-century Russian pagoda chandelier with multiple tiers of sparkling crystals. It's one of the best examples of my penchant for combining the classic with the modern, and I'm still pleased that the client wanted it as much as I did. Next we selected a neutral color palette throughout the residence and added depth and a shimmering effect with hints of metallic silver and chrome. In a neutral environment, the color choices don't have to be white or gray. There is a full range of subtle possibilities that can enhance the impact of certain pieces and others that can offer effective contrast. For example, the floors and walls have the same basic tonality, which serves to make the spaces appear even larger. Even where oriental carpets were used, we focused on a more muted palette of soft grays and greens instead of the typical reds and blues that can be distracting. We added punches of color and used black'a key element in any neutral color palette'judiciously but powerfully in the marble fireplace that anchors Picasso's Femme ? la Montre, the ebonized Steinway piano, and the lacquered occasional tables designed by my firm. We also emphasized clean lines and crisp tailoring in our upholstery choices, working in a range of silvers and platinums that complement the Art Deco bones of the apartment while paying homage to the art that surrounds it. The same attention to detail carried through from the public rooms to the private spaces, where stately mantels set the stage and imposing tester beds draw the eye and call attention to the paintings that hang on the walls. Favorite pieces and more recently acquired furnishings were recovered to blend in with the neutral palette. The client also wanted a different, more artistic approach to displaying family photos, so we created special custom folding screens to provide additional room for display. Finally, in a nod to classic design and to highlight a collection of rare Yixing ceramic teapots in the sitting room, we installed a wooden crown molding that complements the saddle leather of the sofa and chairs. The little teapots'short and stout? now sit proudly on recessed shelves lined with neutral pearwood. Overseeing them all is not another contemporary masterpiece but one of my client's most cherished objects: a pictogram of her grandson by Adam Fuss.
17 Park Avenue Aerie
18 Park Avenue Aerie
19 Park Avenue Aerie Left A Giacometti floor lamp lights a quiet corner where a Robsjohn-Gibbings chaise sits comfortably. Franz Kline's stark black brushstrokes echo the ebony finish of the piano, which was custom made to complement the owner's collection of Art Deco pieces. A large canvas by Jean Dubuffet hangs above it.
33 Beekman Place Duplex Beekman Place has long been one of my favorite streets in Manhattan. Just two blocks long and tucked away close to the East River, it epitomizes New York City at the height of its Art Deco glamour. My client on this street of dreams is a Broadway producer who owns a magnificent duplex in a 1930s building by Sloan and Robertson. It's a classic prewar with all the architectural details associated with that period and sweeping views of the river and the iconic 59th Street Bridge. While entertaining is a frequent pastime'and an occupational requirement for any producer'the apartment is really more of a family retreat, showcasing an array of contemporary paintings, photographs, and sculptures in a setting filled with antiques, family pieces, and wonderful memories. In many ways, this project may best represent my design aesthetic: an updated interpretation of classic elegance. At the same time, I believe it highlights my penchant for combining contemporary art with period furniture. 'I love the bones of this place,' my client told me early on. 'But it's just too much old-world London and not enough New York, New York. It needs a little glamour and sophistication. Let's brighten it up.' So brighten it up we did, using an ivory-tinted dove-gray enamel over the somber paneling in the living room and library to highlight the prewar moldings. We used an automotive spray enamel that creates a subtle glow day or night and adds just the right amount of luster to the walls and ceiling. In the dining room and the foyer, where there was no paneling to preserve, a new wall treatment of Venetian plaster captures as much light as possible. As soon as you walk through the imposing front door, you are reminded of the history of the residence. Its Art Deco origins are evident in the black-and-white marble floor in the entrance hall, where a plush settee softens the geometric pattern and invites guests to relax and feel at home. Silkscreens by Andy Warhol, a Francesco Clemente painting, and a charming poodle sculpture are clues that this is a modern apartment'and a happy place as well. The ebony-and-ivory color scheme continues up the graceful stairway where largely black-and-white photographs, including a classic of Marilyn Monroe by Bert Stern, showcase celebrities, friends, and family members. In the public spaces, ebonized floors, Asian-inspired sideboards, and occasional chairs keep the look polished and sophisticated. Window treatments were selected to complement the soft white grayish walls and to filter the light and soften the lines of the space so the art and antiques have room to breathe. My client's tastes in art may be specific, but she is interested in styles and fashions from many different periods. And, while she can appreciate the value of a minimalist backdrop for her art, she had no intention of consigning her books and family treasures to storage. She wanted the interiors to be elegant but still evocative of happy times with her family, projecting a sense of warmth and perhaps a little whimsy. The challenge with this design was to create harmony among the variety of styles and to edit carefully to make sure the art didn't get lost in the details. Fortunately, as a producer, my client knows the importance of collaboration on creative projects. The library may be the best example of an art-filled environment in a largely monochromatic space that is still warm and inviting. An imposing chinoiserie linen press now serves as a bar, reflecting the client's taste for Asian-inspired antiques as well as her fondness for entertaining. But this sophisticated lady is also very sentimental. The sofa and chair are vintage hand-me-downs from her parents? first apartment. Now they're upholstered in an eyecatching blue with rows of lavender pillows backed in yellow. Surprising color choices, yes, but the overall effect is welcoming and comforting around the midcentury Fornasetti cocktail table and well-stocked built-in bookcases. Touchingly, in a space where Warhols and Twomblys compete for wall space, pride of place in the library is held by a large, colorful photographic work by my client's daughter. 'Everyone loves it,' she says. 'It fits right in. It just makes me so, so happy.' Collectors are happy people. 'Goethe Opposite A double portrait of Emily Fisher Landau by Andy Warhol hangs above an inviting banquette in the foyer. French doors lead out to the wraparound terrace with sweeping views of the East River.
57 A fieldstone Georgian-style house is the latest property acquired by a family that I've worked for ever since I began my design career. Over the years, two generations have owned homes in New York, New Mexico, and Florida, and I've been thrilled to help them with everything from gut renovations to simpler decorative update. As some of the foremost collectors of contemporary and postwar modern art, they have always placed a premium on residences that reflect their tastes and showcase their collections in the best possible light. But they have no interest in a glass box of stark white walls with scarcely a place to sit. The house in Greenwich is warm and inviting, with classic bones that go back to 1929 and manicured grounds that extend almost as far as the eye can see. On the outside, the house would work perfectly in a MerchantIvory period drama, with its stone walls, circular driveway, Palladian windows, classic cottage, and trio of brick chimneys. On the inside, however, the look was dated and uninspiring, with too much chintz, thick carpeting, and heavy drapery, as well as a kitchen and bathrooms that hadn't been updated in years. The mother and daughter, who now spend weekends and summers here, bought the house as a family retreat, but they wouldn't compromise when it came to refreshing the interiors and creating appropriate settings for their art. Renovations began in earnest shortly after the house was purchased in 2010. Decades-old carpeting and wallpaper were stripped away to reveal the original hardwoods and plaster. Paneled rooms were hand-polished to restore the luster and celebrate the classic origins of the architecture. Heavy floral drapery and valances were eliminated altogether or replaced with lighter, less obtrusive window treatments. A mix of family favorites, custom pieces, and low-to-the-ground chaises, distinguished by their smooth textures and streamlined silhouettes, was installed in the sitting rooms. Although most of the walls are in shades of white or cream, the wood-paneled library was lacquered aubergine in a nod to the octagon room at Beauport, the seaside retreat of the legendary decorator Henry Sleeper. Throughout the house, the rooms are largely monochromatic, but the darker backgrounds and period details make the carefully selected paintings, photographs, and sculptures stand out almost as much as they would against a paler palette. Only a few rooms have high ceilings so the placement of oversized canvases had to be considered carefully. A pencil sketch of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol may fit comfortably over the living room mantel, but it takes almost an entire wall nearby to showcase one of Ross Bleckner's massive works. The billiard room with its barrel-vaulted ceiling became the ideal setting for one of Mark Tansey's distinctive paintings. The collection includes works from Georgia O'Keeffe, Agnes Martin, and Anne Peabody to Ed Ruscha, Joe Andoe, and Jasper Johns. The dining room with its flat sunburst lighting fixture and long dimensions, works well for smaller pieces, including a stunning array of black-and-white photographs by masters like Robert Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, and Alfred Stieglitz. Interspersed among the greats are beloved images of family and friends, making for lively conversations and reminiscences during dinner parties and gatherings. 'I used to collect jewelry,' says the mother, relaxing with her daughter on the loggia overlooking the grounds, 'but the art has enriched our lives so much more. We have so much here'our family, our friends, our collections. We're truly blessed'and so, so grateful.' Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it. 'Robert Motherwell Greenwich Georgian Opposite The moldings and bannister in the entrance hall may suggest a traditional interior, but there are bold statements with cutting-edge art around every corner. The vignette of The Dark Eclipse by Louise Nevelson and the window is reflected in the cube by Larry Bell below. The glass ball finial adds a 'touch of magic? to the space.
79 Palm Beach Regency Over the past twenty years, I've been fortunate to work on a variety of residences in Palm Beach, from magnificent Beaux-Arts palaces to classic Georgians to stunning contemporaries. But the style that has always been a favorite of mine and a coveted choice among locals is 'Gottfried Regency,' named for the developer John Gottfried. He built hundreds of homes in this seaside resort and gave the town much of its enduring style and glamour. A 'Gottfried? is still one of the most sought-after residences in Palm Beach, prized for high ceilings, classic lines, light-filled interiors, and effortless symmetry. One of my earliest clients and her family moved to Palm Beach from an ultra-modern house that I had decorated in Ohio. When they had the opportunity to 'get a Gottfried,' they were lucky enough to purchase one of the developer's last masterpieces on what is arguably one of the prettiest streets in Palm Beach. From the start, my clients were enchanted by the house, with its 14-foot ceilings and its combined indoor and outdoor spaces with large windows and French doors that drenched the interiors with sunlight. The spacious rooms were ideal for the display of their paintings and sculpture. In fact, they were so perfect that my clients decided to make this house their full-time residence. Their only requirement was that the decor remain streamlined and elegant without fussiness or clich? tropical touches. 'The house is everything we dreamed of,' my client told me. 'But the main focus has to be the art. It's what we love most of all. We just don't want a lot of other elements that compete for attention.' A Stack sculpture by Donald Judd and works by Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Artschwager, Terry Winters, and Rudolf Stingel: the list of artists reads like a who's-who of the postwar and contemporary art scene. To meet the family's goals, we adapted our 'transitional? style, mixing traditional elements with the clean lines of contemporary, even minimalist furnishings for a look that can best be described as classic with an edge. The concept was to give each room one or two grand pieces and then keep the rest restrained and cool. In the living room, a central seating area anchors the space while furniture groupings along the perimeter allow for more intimate gatherings. The tone-on-tone upholstered pieces throughout the room recede into the background and let the art command the most attention. Here a gilded English console and a pair of Baccarat crystal chandeliers are the only pieces that really stand out on their own, and they feel right at home in the classic Regency setting. In the dining room, our focus was on creating additional space for changing art, keeping the palette cool and quiet with Gustavian chairs and a minimalist silver-leaf table lit by a vintage rock-crystal chandelier. John Meeks designed the table and the custom embroidery that graces the backs of the chairs, making each one a unique artistic creation. In fact, John was responsible for many of the custom furnishings throughout the house. The challenges we faced on the project were twofold: one on the outside and one on the inside. When our client told us she would prefer a fountain, we replaced the pool with a combination pool and fountain that is artistic, inviting, and provides additional seating around the edge for guests. We couldn't imagine a Palm Beach estate of this magnificence without a pool, and now our client feels she got exactly what she wanted and more. On the inside, when we suggested painting the walls of the living room a pale shade of pink, we met some initial resistance. We didn't want to rely on the 'Gottfried Gray? that Benjamin Moore created for so many of these classic Regencies. But the pink we had in mind was not of the 'shocking? variety; rather, it was meant to evoke the inside lip of a conch shell'that very pale, almost offwhite tint with just a suggestion of rosiness. It may have been a bold choice, but it's one that definitely works. 'When I entertain, it's like looking at everyone through rose-colored glasses,' my client says. 'All my friends and guests look so healthy and maybe even younger in this wonderful light.' I don't know if John Gottfried would have followed our advice. But I'm pretty sure he would have been just as pleased with the results. The artist's vocation is to bring light into the human heart. 'George Sand Opposite The sculpture in pink terry cloth is by Louise Bourgeois.