Today Curbed sits down with NYC-based architect and designer Tommy Zung to talk about one of his early solo works, a Flatiron loft for a young, single copywriter at a major New York advertising firm. Completed in 2002, the project still feels current, maybe even timeless, just as a Fifth Avenue apartment should.
The son of Thomas T.K. Zung, longtime president of Buckminster Fuller, Sadao and Zung Architects, Tommy Zung nevertheless took a less conventional route to the profession. After graduation, Zung went to work at his father's firm, before leaving to establish Zung Clothing, a menswear line sold worldwide, and collaborated on Austyn Zung, a fashion line celebrated by the likes of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and GQ. In 1997, Tommy became a partner in Moomba Restaurant and Lounge, an NYC celebrity hotspot, where he was responsible for brand development. When Moomba shuttered, he went out on his own, founding Zung Design and tackling residential projects. Three years in, he produced this Fifth Avenue loft, and we talk to him here about the project.
Curbed National: What's your favorite piece in the finished loft?
Tommy Zung: The open stillness of the living space while still remaining intimate is most successful element of this project.
CN: Do you always work in this stripped-down style or do you tackle maximalism too?
Zung: I always work with getting down to as many of the pure beautiful details that a building has to offer as its root. Then elements and details are added that are harmonious to each other so each detail speaks to the other one and the symbiotic nature becomes apparent to the viewer experiencing the space.
CN: What inspired the distinctly downtown vibe?
Zung: I wanted to turn a multi-bedroom, downtown Fifth Avenue space into a loft-feeling space, as the owner was a creative copy writer for a big advertising agency.
CN: Did you tweak the floor plan at all?
Zung: Yes, I ripped all of the old rooms out and did an entirely new layout and renovated down to the studs.
CN: What sort of challenges did you run into renovating in a Fifth Ave co-op?
Zung: The most difficult part was dealing with City to replace windows in a Landmark building.
CN: We just have to ask, was that gorgeous fireplace original to the apartment?
Zung: Fireplace mantle was not original, it was purchased.
CN: How do you think your style has evolved since 2002? Is there anything is this apartment you regret?
Zung: My style has evolved in that my choices of materials and the range of sustainable materials has increased as has construction techniques. It serves no one to regret, only to learn.