Going for the bronze medal
Raul Barreneche -- Interior Design, 9/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
The Trump World Tower is a building of superlatives. Apartments with $17 million price tags. Celebrity residents Derek Jeter, Bill Gates, and Sophia Loren. And the World Bar, a lobby watering hole that serves the World Cocktail: a $50 flute of Veuve Clicquot, cognac, Pineau des Charentes, white-grape and lemon juice, and a dash of liquefied gold.
To provide a suitable setting for this stupendous signature aperitif, owner Mark Grossich—also proprietor of the Campbell Apartment bar in Grand Central Terminal—hired Arthur Casas Architecture and Design. Principal Arthur Casas then brought in Owen & Mandolfo, his New York collaborators.
Selected from the group of 16 top designers who submitted plans for the World Bar, Casas is known for his subtle but stylish hospitality designs, notably the sublime Emiliano Hotel São Paulo in his native Brazil. The World Bar, he says, is the most faithful execution of his ideas among the U.S. interiors he's completed.
Given the location across from the United Nations, Casas aimed his design at the over-30 crowd." The project had to be in a 'Trump style' but without excess," he says. And the decor does indeed steer clear of the over-the-top flourishes you might expect from a Donald Trump establishment serving $50 drinks. For starters, the space isn't particularly large—about 3,000 square feet. Its ceiling, however, soars at a lofty 23 feet high, with a mezzanine floating behind the First Avenue facade to define the towering volume.
As befits World Bar's tony clientele, Casas's palette is an understated mix of metallics and neutrals. A hefty slab of white Calacata marble tops the bar, and not a stitch of furniture is off-the-rack. Sofas, benches, armchairs, tables, and even light fixtures were designed by Casas and shipped from Brazil, keeping manufacturing costs low and quality high. At a foundry in São Paulo, metalsmiths who once worked with Diego Giacometti cast the rough bronze pedestals of the World Bar's cocktail tables and drink stands.
The metallic theme continues with cast-bronze sconces and sheer bronze drapery. ("Even Donald Trump knows gold is passé," jokes president Sylvia Owen.) Casas's bronze palette isn't just an updated alternative, though. It also flatters the complexions of the distinguished diplomatic crowd.