At the ground-level New York apartment of Kenneth Alpert Associates principal Andrew Petronio, the view is of his art collection
Marisa Bartolucci -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Andrew Petronio is a man on the move. And that's not just because he's a marathon runner. In the three and a half years since he left textile design to become a principal at the New York interiors firm Kenneth Alpert Associates, he's worked on a host of luxury residences up and down the East Coast, in styles ranging from American country to art moderne.
Petronio clearly doesn't have time to stand around, but he used to do a lot of it in his old apartment building, where the elevator took eternities to arrive. Last year, the frustration got to be too much for him. He leaped at the prospect of an apartment most Manhattanites would consider less than ideal. What made a cramped, gloomy, and sterile postwar one-bedroom so attractive to Petronio? Its ground-floor location.
The drawbacks of the 550-square-foot apartment didn't faze him. Busy with his new career, Petronio doesn't spend many daylight hours at home, so the lack of sunshine wasn't an issue. Neither was the absence of architectural detail. In fact, he saw this minus as an asset. The interior could essentially function as a frame for his art collection, at once backdrop and counterpoint.
That collection is astonishingly extensive, considering that he assembled it in less than four years. The buying spree's start coincided almost exactly with his arrival at Kenneth Alpert. Accompanying Alpert and some clients to a gallery showing Alex Katz's work, Petronio was riveted. Egged on by his new employer, an avid collector of contemporary art, the neophyte walked off with his first art acquisition, a large Katz drawing of his wife, Ada. Since gallery hopping with clients was now a part of his professional routine, he simply kept going. "I don't even bother to hang new pieces anymore," he admits. "I just prop them against the wall or put them in storage."
Above: In the living room and dining area, Petronio daringly paired the figured-velvet checks of the lounge chair's cushion and sofa's throw pillows with the silk stripes of the curtains. The mahogany table has a polished-chrome base.
Petronio's taste leans to figurative art, especially portraits. At present, the collection encompasses both modern and contemporary pieces: American and European prints, drawings, photographs, and sculpture. Among them are masters, such as Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet, and rising stars, including Brazilian sensation Vik Muniz.
In the living room, Petronio employed a luxurious overall palette of cream and chocolate brown. There's a cream twill sofa, a deco-style armchair upholstered in dark brown suede, and a mahogany armoire with cream sueded-leather panels. The round Regency-style table, which usually holds his mounting assortment of art books, can be cleared to seat four for dinner. A rattan-and-mahogany planter's chair and a console with a Chinese-style stretcher provide a touch of the exotic. Along the back wall, a pleated silk curtain in chocolate brown and cream reinforces the play of light and dark while disguising an ugly metal door leading to the patio.
Placed around the living room, reflective elements catch the eye, making the space feel bigger. Red accents demarcate the "work" area, where Petronio paired a deco-style desk in red aluminum and chrome with a matching chrome chair. To punch up the color theme, he surrounded the desk with red-toned works by James Rosenquist, Jeff Koons, and Keith Haring. When the designer bought a red Vespa, he couldn't help himself—he parked it in the living room.
Left: Custom wallpaper lends a poky kitchen some op-art dash. Below left: Artwork by James Rosenquist, Jeff Koons, and Keith Haring surrounds an aluminum-and-chrome desk and chrome desk chair.
Left: A Jean Dubuffet linen scroll print graces the wall above Petronio's bed.
His playfulness is equally evident in the galley kitchen. Since it had recently been renovated, with white lacquered cabinets and black granite counters and floors, he added only custom wallpaper with black-and-white stripes. The stripes run right over the ceiling for an op-art effect.
By contrast, the ambience of Petronio's bedroom is enveloping, calm, and hushed—almost decor by prescription. (A happy side effect is the handsome way the chocolate-brown walls set off the Picasso ceramic plate and Dubuffet print near his bed.) "When I'm in the bedroom, I feel worlds away from the rush of the city," Petronio says.
He may sleep well here at night, but he never rests for long. A plot to move to a new apartment is already afoot. You guessed it: He needs more space for his art.
SOFA (LIVING ROOM): RMMR. LAMPS: BAKER KNAPP TUBBS. CURTAIN, CUSHION, PILLOW FABRIC: CLARENCE HOUSE. VASE: NANCY CORZINE. CARPET: STARK CARPET CORPORATION. CHAIRS (LIVING ROOM, DINING AREA): BRITISH KHAKI. TABLE (DINING AREA): RALPH LAUREN HOME. CUSTOM WALLPAPER (KITCHEN): FIRST EDITIONS WALLCOVERINGS FABRICS. DESK, CHAIR (LIVING ROOM): TERENCE CONRAN SHOP. BED (BEDROOM): PROFILES. BEDDING: KREISS COLLECTION.