As He Likes It
Advertising whiz Donald Ziccardi designs his residence to focus on collected artworks.
Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
His c.v. lists academic studies and hands-on experience in finance, advertising, retailing, accounting, marketing, and public relations. Two giant store chains competed for his services; he politely rejected both, convinced, after trying it, that retailing wasn't his thing. Interior design looked appealing, but what he saw in shelter magazines did not. Trouble was that all these fields dealt either with finance or aesthetics. He, however, wanted both "the fascination of numbers" and the attractions of creativity. Which may explain why eventually he made advertising his profession and, indirectly, why he took on the challenge of transforming an age-worn flat in Manhattan's Sutton Place area into his own quite splendid residence.
The multi-talented protagonist of this tale is Donald Ziccardi, head of his namesake $55 million full-service advertising shop. He had been living at his present address for some years. But as his company grew, so did the need for more space allowing business (and family) entertaining at home. An 11-room flat in his elegant pre-war building became vacant. The unit was run down, requiring much to fix it up. Undaunted, Ziccardi bought the place and embarked on a process of professionally executed renovation. While curious about the apartment's looks in former glory days—an acquired 1927 sketch gave some clues about fabrics and textures—he had no intention of following predetermined rules or guidelines. Instead, he chose furnishings and decorative pieces that, jointly and severally, please his eye and stimulate a sense of delight. His style? Ziccardi subscribes to none. He favors contradictions, he says, disliking match-ups; and refers to his habitat as an amalgam of architectural elements that include Italian, English, and neoclassical furniture as well as Renaissance art and Asian/Far Eastern objects seasoned with modern accents. Having crisscrossed the globe and attended numerous auctions, he has amassed artful travel mementos and assorted treasures. Obviously he knows where to shop, and how to find good professional trade sources and subcontractors to complete the job.
Taking the professional route, then, Ziccardi began with a thorough rehab drive keyed to the planned layout redistribution for enlargement of entertainment space. To this end, a bedroom on the south side was moved to the erstwhile master bath/dressing zone, thus vacating space for a library that, in turn, became one of a tripartite space expanse. The resulting living/dining/library stretch accommodates up to 100 circulating cocktail-party guests. For formal meals, 16 sit at the mahogany-inlaid dining-room table. To the side is a small sitting zone, formerly a staff's bedroom and now a favorite spot for after-meal drinks and conversation. A newly created gallery is filled with Ziccardi's collection of Far Eastern art and artifacts.
Following gutting of outdated utility rooms, most floors were paved with mahogany parquetry. In the brand-new and vastly enlarged kitchen, acid-washed marble with small mosaic corner inlays lies underfoot. Mouldings in the living room were restored and, in replicated form, extended to the library, dining, and sitting rooms. Walls were skimmed before being painted off-white. Part of the elevator hallway, uncontested by other occupants, was ceded to Ziccardi for expansion of his foyer. This, plus some finagling with an extant closet, accounted for a 20 percent increase in the flat's present 2,700-sq.-ft. size.
Asked what he would highlight were he to conduct a make-believe sightseeing tour for a fictitious relative, Ziccardi replies, in the spirit of the game: "Well, starting at the foyer, I'd say 'Here you see a framed Aubusson weave bought at the Jacqueline Onassis auction,' and then I'd point out the 10-panel coromandel screen from Japan." Thereafter he'd probably concentrate on the veritable treasure trove of artists' names, citing 18th- century portrait painter François-Hubert Drouais, George Romney, Jean-Jacques Hennear, Chagall, Matisse, Renoir, and more. Still, a question looms large: What about basic furnishings? They are top of the line, but none is custom-made or one-of-a-kind. Yes, he admits, his furniture choices tend to be understated, almost spartan. Clearly the rare, luxe, and beautiful are what he loves best.