Coming Up Trump*
How the Donald and designer Richard Mishaan experienced a meeting of minds at the Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza
Maria Shollenbarger -- Interior Design, 9/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Richard Mishaan's name and that of his Madison Avenue furniture gallery, Homer, are synonymous in certain circles with a particular well honed aesthetic, one defined by clean shapes and quietly luxurious materials—light and space in lieu of bells and whistles. "Anything rococo or baroque sends me into spasms," Mishaan has been known to proclaim. Yet somehow he found himself designing a midtown model apartment for that grand vizier of "more is more," Donald Trump.
How exactly did this project come about?
Sony, which is a client of mine, signed on with Mr. Trump to participate in the creation of a model apartment at the Trump World Tower. The goal was to showcase cutting-edge design and Sony's highest-end technology, more specifically the Cierge centralized home-theater and technology-systems program. Because I'd built a very successful relationship with Sony, redesigning public spaces at their headquarters, they suggested to Mr. Trump that mine might be an aesthetic he should look into.
Of course, you did realize that your taste and his don't necessarily intersect?
Well, being the bright man that he is, Mr. Trump understood that his client base at the World Tower might differ from that at his other properties. Here, he was trying to attract diplomats, international executives, sports stars, couples without children, single professionals—someone who would have a magnificent modern-art collection, perhaps some large-scale color-field paintings.
Basically, it's the kind of package that a younger person would be likely to gravitate toward. The model apartment is on the 62nd floor, with amazing views of the river and the U.N., and the rooms are vast, with 17-foot ceilings and full-height windows. The furnishings need to complement that. Wealth used to be traditional by definition. Now you can be seriously wealthy and cutting-edge contemporary, too.
So you experienced no pressure to Trump-ify the space?
When we started work, he did in fact envision a client partial to—shall we say—highly traditional decor. But trying to make a new building prewar by adding excessive molding or damask really undermines the beauty of the geometry. The great, interesting thing about Mr. Trump is that he eventually saw the point and got on board with the much more minimal, Zen style we ultimately went with.
Presumably, though, that took some convincing?
Yes, in that—for someone with a more exuberant sensibility—the quieter brand of luxury can seem a bit scary. You might fear that certain people, for instance your regular clients, just won't get it. It's like Roberto Cavalli and Hermès. One's glaringly obvious. The other takes 10 minutes before you realize, Wow, that's so beautiful and finely crafted. Nevertheless, I do think the design was a bit of a leap of faith on his part.
Were any elements concessions on your own part?
I didn't really have to concede at all. The apartment's look is definitely 100 percent Homer. Within that frame of reference, though, Mr. Trump did tend to like the pieces at the more flamboyant, bold end of the spectrum. In the dining room, we've got a giant white Chinese lacquered table. That's very luxurious by our standards—but also the height of minimalism in its way.
Has the response been positive?
The reaction has been absolutely amazing. We seem to be establishing a new luxury category. And I have to tell you that everyone who's toured the apartment says, "Honey, can we go home now and toss out half our stuff?" We'll have to see how the sales go this fall.
Richard Mishaan, designer of the 62nd-floor model apartment at the Trump World Tower at United Nations Plaza.
An oil on canvas à la Mark Rothko hangs behind glassware from Homer.
Also from Homer, the living room's furniture includes glass stools and a topstitched leather-wrapped cocktail table.
Mishaan designed the living room's zigzag bookshelf in ebonized oak; the rug is by Denis Colomb.
A lacquered table adds its gleam to that of the dining room's polyurethaned parquet floor.
Leather-covered bedside lamps and Henry Dean's glass vessels flank a bed by Mishaan.
Samuel R. Mishaan - 2008-04-09 22:07:00 EDT
Hi Richard, my name is Samuel Mishaan I am the grandson of Samuel Mishaan Yarhi that might be your grandfathers brother, I live in Guatemala City and will like to met you some time,here or there, maybe you knew my late uncle Rudolph Mishaan, the painter. I´ll be happy to hear from you, have a nice day. Best of luck,