Today Curbed sits down with NYC-based interior designer Robin Baron to discuss a two-bedroom pied-à-terre located in famed celeb-happy NYC condo building 15 Central Park West. One of several residences that the family owns, it's filled with Baron's bespoke touches, from the lighting to the wallcoverings to the window treatments.
Photos 1 through 7 by Phillip Ennis; photos 8 and 9 by Philip Ficks
Tell us about the inspiration for this apartment.
We were going for a very luxe, chic look that still maintains a calm and serene vibe. It’s a fine line between making something very luxe and very serene. They have teenage children who do visit the apartment, so we had to infuse a level of comfort and ease to meet all of their needs.
What determined the pointed, cohesive color palette?
The client wanted a monochromatic feeling to keep the home cohesive and elegant. I interpreted that by incorporating subdued metallics and reflective surfaces throughout to add a little interest and a pop. For the kitchen backsplash, I used glass tiles inset in bronze to create a bit of movement and drama without going over the top; in the dining space, we created a custom hand-blown Venetian-glass wall sculpture with beautiful back lighting. The hallway got a stenciled silver-leaf wall treatment. Alone, many of the elements in the apartment may be interpreted as “over the top,” but in context with the overall design, they read chic yet understated. I always say that it's all about the balance. Isn’t everything in life?
Talk to us about other elements that you feel particularly stand out here.
I love the multi-functional coffee table in the living room that I designed and had made. Removable upholstered pieces allows the family the ultimate level of flexibility—the piece can alternate between a cushy ottoman where you can put your feet up and relax, to an open coffee table for entertaining. There are also built-in drawers to hide remotes, magazines, and other living room eyesores. I also love the wall unit in the same room. Although it’s particularly large, the custom piece lends the room perspective and gives it a focal point and the illusion that the room is larger than it is. I’m also a bit obsessed with the the custom tiled walls in the master bath that read like wallpaper. They open and brighten the space, creating the most luxurious ambience.
In what ways does this project reflect your work in general?
It reflects my work because my work is all about the client. It fit their specific wants and needs. It’s not their main residence so they wanted a chic, urban feel as opposed to their primary residence in the suburbs—that's more country. They wanted to feel that as they came into 15 Central Park West, they were receiving the ultimate Manhattan experience. That said, it deviates from my body of work because no two projects are really alike. I have an open palette; a blank canvas on every job. I never like to repeat myself. Because each project is about the client, the inspiration for each job will be different.
15 Central Park West is such a hallowed place in New York. Talk to us about the experience of designing within such a legendary building.
Because building is one of the most prestigious buildings in the city, we were lucky enough to work with a budget that allowed us to be creative and work out-of-the-box. Everything in this home was custom designed, custom made, and custom finished. The client wanted a sense of being pampered while here in the city. Both the building and our designs have achieved that for them.
Were there building restrictions placed on what you were allowed to do?
It is a strict building with many rules and regulations, so we just had to work within those parameters. For about a year of the year and a half that we were working on this project, we were overlapping with the building’s own construction. That made it challenging to have to navigate our workers with theirs in terms of freight elevators and things like that. The building's approval processes for certain things took quite a long time, too. For example, during the building construction, the client’s A/C system became filled with dust—in the end, it was cheaper to replace it than to have it cleaned. But getting that new A/C unit took months for the building to approve.
If you could choose other famous buildings to design in—in NYC or elsewhere—what comes to mind?
What’s great about this city is that the “best” buildings have personalities as distinct as their clientele?there is such a great mix of new construction and post-war/old buildings. And although I am lucky enough to work in some of the “best” buildings in the city, for me, again, it’s more about the client and less about the building. What would be a dream would be to take a raw warehouse, convert it into a residential space and create an open floorplan with an “industrial glam” vibe. I love the incongruity of mixing the more industrial elements like iron, rough surfaces, and reclaimed wood with glam details like glass, reflective surfaces, and luxurious fabrics to create a tough yet chic, elegant, and hip look.
What would you say was the biggest challenge about this project?
Although it was a new space, we did a significant amount of construction to customize it. We gutted the kitchen, all the bathrooms?almost the entire apartment. As always with construction, the challenge was staying on schedule.
And after the fact, would you change anything?
Every aspect of the project, every inch of the home, was thought out and thought through. So, the good news is, the clients were ecstatic with the results. I wouldn’t change that for the world!