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Meet the Curbed Young Guns Semifinalists: Kyle Weeks

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Long before graduating from the Syracuse University School of Architecture, Kyle Weeks developed an interest in houses. "I remember reading about it in a book when I was 5, something like, 'Careers You Can Have When You're Older,' and one of them was architecture," he says. "They had a pretty rudimentary description along the lines of 'An architect builds houses,' and I loved houses growing up, so it was, like, perfect, problem solved at the age of 5."

Weeks didn't truly discover his passion or talents for interior design, though, until he was a fresh-out-of-school grad applying blindly to an anonymous classified ad seeking part-time summer help. The job? Office assistant. The office? AD100 interior designer (and Curbed Young Guns panelist) Jennifer Post. "I had no idea who I was going to be meeting, but in the end it was just really good chemistry," he says. He was hired full time at Post's Manhattan firm within two weeks of starting, and his early assignments involved assisting one of the designers who "was in the middle of finishing up two major projects and starting a third, so it was a really great time to jump in."

Weeks, who is now 26 and lives in Brooklyn, evolved into a junior designer and has since been promoted to the position of designer, complete with his own clients and projects. Here's what Post has to say about her employee of more than three years:
"I could tell within the first three or six months this kid was very talented and just had it in him. A lot of people have passed through my office in the last 20 years, and he just kept growing and growing by bounds, more so than any other 22-year-old just out of college. He just has a natural sense of proportion, color, concept, space, what textures go with what textures, and his attitude is incredible. He's a perfectionist—he's an absolute perfectionist—plus, he's very humble and he's always so appreciative. He also is very proactive. When you're that young, to be proactive and not just be told what to do is very rare." Weeks' very first assignment as lead project designer was a 3,000-square-foot duplex on Park Avenue (below). Soup to nuts, the three-bedroom pied-à-terre didn't take too long—six to eight months, he estimates—because the renovations were only cosmetic: the team gave the walls and floors a fresh coat of paint, did some built-ins, changed out hardware, fittings, and fixtures, and trucked in a stunning array of sleek Italian furniture, midcentury lighting, and contemporary art. The end result? A small, no-name community magazine called Architectural Digest published the space this month.

Reflecting on his short career trajectory thus far, Weeks credits his Mom for planting the seed of what has become a love of and respect for interiors. She "kept the most gracious home and was always the most gracious host growing up," he says, and "instilling that in me in a young age definitely comes out today. I think a lot about how people live and I think about what it means to have a home and care for a home. They might not be lavish—or maybe they are lavish—but you still treat them with the same level of respect."

Weeks provides further insight into that very first project:

Jennifer's home is all white—we've seen it featured in the Journal, on New York Social Diary, and so on. From looking at your work, this project included, I've noticed that a lot of work is white with pops of color.
I think if people know the history of Jennifer Post as a designer, throughout the years of her career, I think they do think of her as the all-white designer. That's how she got her start; it was her original trademark. But something she likes to say now is that we've diversified in the modern era. Jennifer likes to say she has two palettes—she has her all white, which she's been cultivating and refining over the years because not all white projects are the same. This one has a lot of silvers and grays and creams and off-whites; it's a really cool, more urban mix, and it almost feels "Donna Karan." It definitely has this edge for Park Avenue that's not quite expected. But then Jennifer has her rich tones—she has her darks, her browns, that really saturated, bachelor-pad kind of thing. She calls it her "Tom Ford palette." It depends on what the client is interested in—we have people come to us and they're not comfortable with stark-white interiors, and we have people that really want it. They almost want their New York apartment to feel like this ethereal, modernist vision. I think this project bridges a gap between the two, because it has elements of refinement and sophistication, kind of period-looking pieces, then some great, slick, Italian, streamlined furniture, which is definitely right up my personal alley—I love that balance between the two silhouettes.

Talk a little about what the clients approached you with.
They had just bought this duplex on Park Avenue. It's in a brand-new building so it's kind of this own entity on Park Avenue. It's not pre-war, it's brand-new and all glass, and they actually came to us with a vision of an all-white, pristine, modern look. Believe me, this is a total departure for them. Up until then, they have this really gorgeous estate where they live on Long Island; it's very traditional and definitely not modern in any sense. With their kids growing up, it made sense for them to finally get a little place to crash during the week and on the weekends somewhere in New York, where the husband's business is. So they bought this. It's kind of the yin and yang thing: they have their really traditional-looking seaside mansion, but they also have this really ethereal place in the city that's super clean and super modern and just the best of both worlds.

In terms of the overall design, what kind of vibe were you going for?
They wanted that Jennifer Post all-white look. They wanted a place that felt pure and clean; it had to have an element of sophistication, but I like to say that this definitely has a New York edge to it. It has this urban mix of a really white floor and white walls with these silvers with these really slick black elements. And then there are moments of texture, moments of the organic—as Jennifer would call it, "the humanity." We took them shopping for art and they started to cultivate a really interesting art collection. I don't think it goes beyond their comfort level—it doesn't make them feel uncomfortable—but I do think it has a little bit of edge to it, which is exciting because they're not an old couple on Park Avenue, they're a young couple on Park Avenue. It's exciting to give them something that's a representation of who they are as people. It's youthful and it's modern, but it has that address that everybody wants.

Name some of your favorite elements—anything that stands out about this project now that it's complete.
Well, I really like the floor; it has this glossy white finish but you can still see the grain in the wood, almost like you put a milky-white stain over an oak floor, which is spectacular. The flooring was this honey color when we first inherited it, and there was a discussion about whether we should do stone or perhaps tile throughout, and the client said, "You know what, we have this really nice wood floor, let's refinish it." So we went through a really big operation, pulling samples from different vendors, and then we finally nailed it and it was perfect—like the finish on a car. It's not just painted over; you can feel this really subtle texture and I think that is this huge playing field for all of the beautiful furniture and rugs that sit on top of it.

Another thing I love is the lighting, which is all period—it's all from the '50s and the '60s. It's European. That's really exciting because everything else in the house in brand new. So it's still modern, but it adds this little bit of a romantic element to the space, which I think is really cool. It's something unexpected, but it sets up the whole system of balancing that's going on.

· Jennifer Post Design [official site]
· All Young Guns 2013 coverage [Curbed National]
· A Sleek New York Apartment With Pops of Color [Arch Digest]