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An Airy Aerie at Kips Bay
The 38th annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House, now open to the public, marks my third adventure of this sort with Joan and Jayne Michaels of 2Michaels Design. The first two took place outside of New York, and while interesting and successful in their own right, the third time was the charm. The work processes were similar, so the first two efforts provided some amount of experience for the third, but there is little that can prepare you for the additional pressure and stress of the Kips Bay stage.
Fortunately, I learned enough to stay out of the way in the beginning of the project. The two Michaels eat and drink their work, with sleep deliberately omitted. So Joan and Jayne bounced ideas, color schemes, floor plans, and pointy objects off each other for two months, then I stepped in toward the end to help them execute (the room, not each other). The result was serene, exquisite, nuanced and layered, in my words, or chic and magical, in words I overheard opening week.
The concept for the room was to create an urban sanctuary or retreat; a place to decompress or meditate. Hence the "Buddha Tower" by Long-Bin Chen, which, incidentally, is carved out of phone books, and the prototype meditation chair, a 1987 piece by German designer Herman Becker. Hence also the low placement of cushions, daybed, and other furnishings; the "hearth"--a sculptural maquette for a fireplace by Brooklyn artist Stephen Antonson (functional with an Ecosmart bio-ethanol burning insert); the references to Eastern and ancient cultures in the Carlo Bugatti chair and the architectural framing; the soothing "mellow ivory" wall color; and the regenerative, spiritual symbology of bird and egg, seen throughout, but especially in the birdcage, the fireplace, the "nesting" light fixture custom-made by Lindsey Adelman, and the delicate porcelain screen done in 1960 by French designer Anne Barres. For good measure, the eyeball in the Sam Samore photo, and the eyeball floor lamp connote vision or insight.
Joan and Jayne will be the first to acknowledge the collaborative nature of the project, and to credit the people who helped, by lending or providing materials, or by creating pieces. Thanks go out to the following galleries, for the vintage design and art: Magen XX Century, R 20th Century, Pascal Boyer, Sebastian+Barquet, Demisch Danant, Downtown at Claremont, Frederieke Taylor, Winston Wachter, and D'Amelio Terras. Special thanks to Stephen Antonson, Lindsey Adelman, Sam Samore, Nancy Angel, and John Kingsmill, for the creative work provided.
Thus far, several visitors have indicated a desire to repose in the room, an indication of some success in the design, or a response to the six-story winding staircase in the townhouse. Either way, Joan and Jayne have created a small oasis in a crowded and visually over-stimulating environment--a good place to relax and recharge before continuing the rounds. Stop in on your way up or down.