The 44th and BEST Kips Bay Show House, NYC
I'm headed into New York City for the afternoon for my first visit to the notorious Kip's Bay Show House. I've seen headlines and photos, but I've tried my best to avoid them in the same way you would plug your ears when hearing someone discuss a movie you hadn't seen yet but were eagerly anticipating. For a little context on where I'm coming from, your Jennifer Butler Interior Design coastal correspondent, I thought you might like to join me on my short but lovely train ride across the Hudson and into Manhattan. Enjoy! ~Amy
9:30am Ridgewood Train Station - I live next door to Ridgewood in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and love going into Ridgewood to catch the train into New York City, a mere 25 miles from home. I go in on average about once a month and am never disappointed. Yet, I always love coming home to the Garden State and being able to relax in comparative quiet in the woodland setting my backyard offers. By woodland, I mean we’ve spotted everything from deer, rabbits and woodchucks to fox, deer and even coyote. We live less than a mile from the the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve and the New Jersey Audubon Society’s Lorrimer Sanctuary, meaning we regularly spot yellow goldfinches, cardinals, and big beautiful butterflies.
10:00am NJ Transit - I’ll be transferring trains in Seacaucus in just a few minutes to the line into NY Penn Station. I’ll head uptown on the 1 train, transfer to the Q at Time Square and hop off at Lexington and 59th. From there I’ll have a short block to walk to The Carlton House. See you there!
11:00am The Carlton House - Walking west on 61st on the upper east side of Manhattan had me gazing up at the facades of the beautiful and distinctive iron gated brownstones of NYC. Arriving at Kips Bay on East 61st across the street from Barneys ,The Pierre luxury hotel, and just a block from Central Park, I joined a small crowd of early birds waiting in a short line to get in. All proceeds benefit the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club based in the Bronx, whose mission is "to enrich and enhance the quality of life for young people by providing educational and developmental programs, with special emphasis on youngsters between ages 6-18 who come from disadvantaged or disenfranchised circumstances." This mission is touched on in photography of children displayed by Kati Curtis in a third floor corridor and a photo of Jennifer Lopez, who participated in the program in her youth, in a powder room by Gil Walsh Interiors on the second floor.
For the next three hours I worked my way up from the main floor to the rooftop deck. I was struck by so many details and design techniques, but at a more thematic level, my biggest impressions walking away were the reinterpretations, the human connections, and the sheer magnitude of the task of participating in Kips Bay and what that meant for the 21 designers who applied and were selected for the 44th annual show house.
Floor One - The Collins Room, David Collins Studio
Rich moody blue set the tone from the first step onto a black and white plank-like marble landing into the show house. I overheard a designer explain that the subfloor had to be raised a few inches to receive the striped marble flooring. Alina, an interior designer from the David Collins Studio introduced me in her British accent to the entrance hall inspired by an earlier restoration of architect Edwin Lutyens’ iconic upscale Blue Bar at The Berkeley in London.
Artwork by Alexander Innes, Beyond the Sea, in ultramarine, continued the legacy of blue in an array of nine canvases offsetting the wall covering hand-screened in claris, lapis and gold custom designed for the show house. The wall covering is a preview for a new collection set to launch this year in collaboration with Baker Furniture. David Collins Studio sketched the pattern and sent it to Baker to tesselate the design, a complex process of tweaking the drawing so that the pattern repeats in a reproducible format. Small geometries forming larger dynamic strokes, resulted in a brushed yet scale-like rhythm, a beat just right for ascending the blue carpeted staircase.
Over fifty shades of blue were used with a little red to create the Farrow & Ball color, “Lutyens Blue” also Cook’s Blue, that coats the mirrored wall in matte and the signature curving stair in gloss, it’s luster is exaggerated in the reflection of the towering mirrors framed with blue buttons and custom plaster detailing by Hyde Park Mouldings.
Small disc-like lanterns lower the expansive height and volume of the entryway to a human scale with draping cords and tassels dangling as if from a blue jewel box. Wall mounted red-shaded sconces punctuate an otherwise lengthy blue wall and diffuse light to a soft glow. Designed by Candia Lutyens, Edward Lutyens’ granddaughter, the sconces nod back to the Blue Bar's architect, but are a calculated cut to the present.
Tucked beneath the stair is an impressive explosion and aroma of roses by florist Emily Thompson. The Collins Room, essentially a reinterpretation of The Blue Bar, begs for more. What David Collins created, is a tantalizing invitation, precisely what one would imagine an entryway ought to do. Though modest in square footage, the design effort here was no ordinary feat.
“We had about five weeks to design and one week for installation,” Alina shared as if it was only a moderately challenging timeline. David Collins Studio just celebrated their 30th anniversary, hosting over 500 guests, an exhibition that Alina suggested was just slightly overwhelming by the way her eyes widened when describing her reaction to the favorable turnout they received.
Up Next: Floor Two at Kips Bay...