Galerie Magazine Article

Art Deco is the Theme


Transformation of the Space

Within the very first issue of Galerie Magazine, we find this article and my piece of furniture in the front hall.


My colleague, Penny Drue Baird of Dessins was asked to transform a six bedroom Park Avenue apartment in association with the architectural firm Ferguson & Shamamian. Together, they took on the challenge of converting this space originally designed by Sicilian-Amercian architect Rosario Candela in 1931. As Baird says in the article, the building’s exterior remained the same, but the interior was “ripped back to the steel” and all original materials were replaced by 21st century concoctions such as elaborate moldings, reclaimed wood floors and gold leafing on the living room ceiling. As she says, none of this would have existed in Candela’s original plans. Working with the architects, as Baird describes, the entrance gallery received a patterned marble floor, “a modernist take on a classic design,” wall niches received tufted fabrics and miles of linear trim. She didn’t just add the decorative touches, she actively participated in the design of this 6000 square foot space.

The Furnishings

As Julie Lasky, the author of this article points out, many of the furnishings are Deco or Deco inspired. The clients wanted an apartment that was “comfortable, young, and fun,” and it was up to Baird to provide a more “up to date” interpretation of the art deco style, and it shows in the contemporary artwork that graces the walls. Many of the pieces coming from living artists. Throughout the space, there is this ying and yang of modern pieces residing next to traditional art deco pieces.

Serpentine Ebony/Bronze Consoles

Getting off the elevator, one sees a pair of bronze and ebony serpentine consoles on either side of the vestibule. I made them and a description can be found on my site under, Matching Pair of Serpentine Ebony Consoles.

Passing through a pair of exquisite bronze doors, you enter the main gallery and are met with my shagreen and walnut table built to resemble a piece from the 1930’s (photo below) and a pair of Moderne chairs. Above it is a piece of art by American artist Richard Prince that spoofs-on a fireman and a drunk.

shagreen and walnut table with chairs

In the living room, there are velvety chaise lounges and tulip-shaped brass torcheres. The main focus in the room is a glass enclosed coffee table by Yves Klein which contains 3000 sheets of gold leaf. Over the original mantle resides a stippled mirror painting by Roy Lichtenstein and off to the side is a photo of Cindy Sherman lying on a bed clutching a hankie.

In the dining room there’s a painting by American artist David Salle from his Silver series and just feet away, resides a 1950’s rosewood sideboard made by French Moderne master Jules Leleu. The combination of traditional furnishings and contemporary artwork is so harmonious, but as Baird reminds us, modernism is based on the law of simplicity and it is easily paired with other styles. The look is “clean and fresh” as she says, but it takes a “deft touch to pull off this kind of mix.” She wouldn’t want to give Candela any reason to spin in his grave.

Personal comments

Having participated in a small way with the transformation of the space back in 2009 installing some permanent built-in cabinetry, I marveled at the quality of the millwork being added to this space by the contractor. While trying to install my woodwork, it shocked me as to “how nutty a job site could become in mid-August,” as we all raced to complete the interior construction prior to the Labor Day deadline. Two months later, Dessins asked me to build 8 pieces of furniture for this client. The piece shown above, along with a library coffee table, two desks for the children, a dresser, and free standing bookcase.

Quite a nice project…. especially after I turned down renovating a large kitchen project in the flower district of Manhattan a few weeks prior. I had had enough with permanent installations and wanted to build furniture. Guess the universe heard me.