All photos by Will Femia
Today the Hearst Design Group—the herculean trust of shelter magazines headed by editorial director Newell Turner—unveils its seventh annual Designer Visions showcase (see: 2011, 2012), putting on display a patchwork of some of the newest, most high-end interior design adventures in the industry. Produced collaboratively by Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and Veranda, the showhouse—well, technically it's three separate apartments designed by Alessandra Branca, Jamie Drake, and Carlos Aparicio, respectively—is the kind of no-holds-barred grandstand that whips out, as if no big deal, hand-marbleized leather armchairs, Warhols, wall treatments made from eyeshadow powder, and floor lamps gilded in 24K gold. Of course, the building itself lends itself to this sort of glamour: this year's setting is NYC's Walker Tower, a 1929 Art Deco emblem that was recently converted into ultra-high-end condos. Below, the intel on each of the spaces:
↑ In the 4,800-square-foot apartment Alessandra Branca crafted for Elle Decor, the great room is flanked with floor-to-ceiling windows and slatted with ebonized oak flooring to reflect the light and create runways that draw the eye to the views. "The chance to have New York at your feet is pretty rare," she said while giving the grand tour. Indeed, the entryway features plaster and paint stripes (a Branca signature) meant to "lean" people into the main space. The overall inspiration? A (nearly) empty-nest couple moving from the Upper East Side. Her vision was to create a modern space that plays with the old and the new—contemporary furnishings with a distinctly Roman slant (she was born there). "Any time I can link the past and now in a new and unexpected way, that's where I'm happy."
In the living area, a scarlet tête-à-tête sits in a well-windowed corner. Gustavian armchairs upholstered in hand-marbleized leather and a red Maison Jensen lacquer side cabinet, traced in gold and topped with marble, stand by. Two huge photographs of Villa Borghese hang above a custom banquette—"born to create that convivial moment"—and a mid 20th-century zebra skin rug.
The adjoining library boasts a "quiet and hushed" faux bois wall finish, plus a pair of midcentury gilt brass wall sconces and a large photo of Trinity College Library in Dublin. The faux-couple's daughter's bedroom is punched with "hyped-up fuschia;" the guest space, in Prussian blue; and the master bedroom, acid green, with walls covered in damask fabric and, nearby, patent leather 18th-century chairs in the same color. "I love waking up to green," Branca says. "You're waking up to spring every morning."
↑ Jamie Drake took the Walker Tower inspiration more explicitly, designing an apartment for the fictional granddaughter of Josephine Baker, the 1920 Parisian stage star, and using the interiors to pay homage to the building's brass detailing and layered brick exterior. Drake is famous for being as obsessed with color as House Beautiful is, so it makes sense that color and paint finishes were the major standouts. In the living room, a fleshy pink paint got dusted with iron-oxide powder—"it speaks to the brick"—while, in the study, polyurethane was mixed with blue, gold, and green eyeshadow powders and then hand applied to the walls. As for that dreamy watercolor palette in the master bedroom, that's a digital print of an actual watercolor work.
Also in Drake's unit: a Patrick Naggar daybed and layered lipstick console by Hudson Furniture, insect broaches in the powder room, hand-blown Murano glass leaf sconces and symmetrical zebra wallpaper in the foyer, and a "modern-day canopy" sculpture (made of roofing paper, steel, silk, and fiber) above the bed in the "daughter's room."
↑ Every wall and ceiling in Carlos Aparicio's apartment for Veranda is painted a chalky gray. Designing for "a collector," Aparicio strived to recreate the base color used by painters, or, as he says rather artistically, a "tabula rasa to juxtapose the objets." On the whole, the apartment feels much more spare than the other two because Aparicio strived for a "museum-like" feel, emphasizing a "dialog between the objects" that's both "incredibly muscular" and "strangely feminine and intimate." The living area is anchored by a 1937 daybed covered in parchment; the master bedroom boasts a French bed from the 1920s, limed-oak lectern from the late 1930s, and a large plaster shell, also from the 1930s.
Aparicio's guest bedroom is marked by an iron-and-wicker daybed and a pair of armchairs in iron and strap leather. The room is anchored by a colorless 20th-century oil painting. The office, the designer's favorite, has got a 1930s pine table and a pair of late Gustavian Klismos chairs, which are from Sweden. Do have a look above.