A Very French Twist
Charlotte Macaux Perelman brings Parisian flair to a New York penthouse.
Nicholas Tamarin -- Interior Design, 11/1/2011 2:00:00 AM
You could be forgiven for succumbing to the Gallic-tinged charm of certain streets in New York's Greenwich Village. They're sprinkled with bona fide Parisian families, wielding maps, and lined with antiques shops proffering furniture by Jacques Adnet or Jules Leleu. So it's perhaps ironic that, directly above one such shop, a firm founded by a Frenchwoman has completed a penthouse loft so quintessentially New York.
Charlotte Macaux Perelman earned her master's degree at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-Belleville before gaining on-the-job experience with a who's who of hospitality-design stars. For Interior Design Hall of Fame member Philippe Starck, she worked on Ian Schrager's Sanderson hotel in London. For another Hall of Famer, David Rockwell, she worked on a proposal for a Cirque du Soleil theater in Hong Kong-and met a Detroit-born colleague, Niels Guldager, who would later join her as a partner in her Studio CMP. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. It was during a stint at André Balazs Properties that she completed a breezy renovation of the tropical deco 1940's Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach, and that's what caught the eye of the owners of the New York
loft, the top floor of a former buttonfactory, circa 1911.
A French couple-an art dealer and a wine merchant-had purchased the loft when it was still a working painter's studio, and the two men asked Studio CMP to maintain the "artist's character," Perelman says, while transitioning from live-work to comfortable living. The space was in a state of grand bohemian disrepair, with ad hoc partitions and an uneven floor. Out the partitions went, and the maple floorboards were sanded and re-stained. One of the brick walls was painted white. As there were already skylights in the 12-foot ceiling, Perelman retained them, safety glass included. Windows are also original with the exception of the convincing replicas in the master bathroom. "What I really like in New York lofts is when you have double exposures. This project was always about opening everything up, so even the center has no dark spots," she continues. The result is 3,500 jealousy-inducing square feet defined by bold art and furniture and elegant detailing.
An enviable eight windows, with views of the Empire State Building, front the living area and an adjacent alcove, which instantly becomes a guest room when a taupe curtain slides across. When it's open, a single glance can take in a Donald Judd desk and chair, a Charlotte Perriand daybed, and a selection of Gerrit Rietveld prototype armchairs so banged up they could have been in a fist fight. The living area eventually rambles into the central dining area, furnished with not one but two tables. First comes the worktable of the loft's former owner-marked by decades of paint splatters, an artwork in itself.
A ubiquitous choice of artists, for both artwork and work spaces, unfinished Douglas fir plywood has a major presence here. Studio CMP found a knot-free version after searching for six months, then used it to build shelving that she describes as "very plain, very uniform, to look like it was done by an artist." It now holds every Christie's and Sotheby's contemporary-art catalog since 2000, chronologically ordered, plus an impressively alphabetized collection of art books, while wrapping a row of enclosed spaces along a sidewall. A break in the
shelving reveals the kitchen. "Our big gesture was to put the kitchen and bathrooms off to the side to keep the rest of the apartment open," Guldager says. The kitchen's industrial-looking stainless-steel cabinets and island intentionally reference Judd.
Next up, where the bookshelves end, is a study that could be described as merely functional were it not for a Judd love seat, natch, a chrome chair by Marcel Breuer, a Carlo Scarpa prototype table, and another Rietveld prototype armchair. A wall of six windows unifies the study with the master suite. The master bathroom, Studio CMP's pièce de résistance, is hedonistic enough to make Tom Ford blush-with sequentially matched striated gray Italian marble used for the floor, walls, vanity, and rain shower. By contrast, the bedroom is relatively ascetic. Acres of empty space stretch between a white platform bed and a Frank Gehry stool at one end and a Florence Knoll credenza and a Jean Dubuffet canvas at the other.
Of all the remarkable furnishings, were any purchased in the antiques shop downstairs? "They have great stuff, but it's very expensive," Perelman says. "I could get it at home for half the price." Vive la France.
Photography by Eric Laignel
thomas jensen; daniel pouzet; angela liu; heather blind; eri nagasaka : studio cmp . micha el zenreich architect: architect of record. tirschwell & co.architectural lighting design: lighting consultant. essential communications: audiovisual consultant. rodney d. gibble consulting engineers: structural engineer. rosini engineering: mep. atelier prela ti; euro style: woodwork. art metal industries: metalwork. gregory muller associates: stonework. bogen: general contractor.
MAHARAM: DAYBED FABRIC.
LORO PIANA: PILLOW FABRIC.
HOLLY HUNT: CURTAIN FABRIC.
KIPRO: CABINETS (KITCHEN).
DORNBRACHT: SINK FITTINGS (KITCHEN, BATHROOM).
A&S WINDOW ASSOCIATES: CUSTOM WINDOWS (BATHROOM).
GALERIE DU PASSAGE: WRITING TABLE (STUDY).
MOROSO: RUG (BEDROOM).
LITELAB: TRACK LIGHTING.
LUTRON: CUSTOM WINDOW SHADES.
TULNOY LUMBER: PLYWOOD.
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