Good Judgement

Photography: Karen Fuchs/Courtesy of Aman & Meeks

   

JAMES AMAN & JOHN MEEKS

Designers
Aman & Meeks
aman-meeks.squarespace.com

We would describe our style as: Aman & Meeks doesn’t have one particular style. In fact, we’re style chameleons. We pay attention to our clients’ dreams and wishes for their homes, so each residence we create is customized.

If we weren’t designers, we would be:
John: I would be a furniture maker because I come by that artistic craft honestly. I’m a descendant of the J. & J. W. Meeks family, the prominent eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American cabinetmakers, so it’s in my blood.
Jim: I would be an art dealer. John and I have had the great fortune to work with so many clients who have extraordinary art collections. We’ve learned so much about all genres of art—maybe enough to wheel and deal in the rarified world of fine art.

Favorite perk of our job: We’re so lucky to travel to exotic locations all over the world for our clients. Not only do we love to see the sights, but we get to stay in our clients’ magnificent homes. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

We’re currently coveting: The exquisite ceramic creations by Brooklyn-based artist Beth Katleman. She casts everyday whimsical pieces into porcelain for singular masterpieces.

The moment we felt we made it: Interestingly enough, it was after we completed our very first project. It was a home for the matriarch of a large New York family. When the family visited and saw the outcome, they loved it. It set us up for a lot of referrals. We’re so grateful for that.

We’re best known for: Our expertise in designing around important art collections, and our singular use of materials, finishes and color palettes.

A career highlight to date: In addition to the honor of being asked to judge the athome A-List Awards, we’re awed at being acknowledged by our industry through the publication of our work and inclusion in significant industry “best of” lists.

What makes us feel at home: Fresh flowers top our list, and then Egyptian 600-plus thread crisp sheets. Everything in its rightful place at home gives us great comfort.

Currently on our radar: We just completed staging rooms at the famous Atterbury Mansion. What an honor to work in one of New York’s most notable townhouses that has recently been turned into condominiums.

Most treasured item in our home: That’s an easy one—our dog, Millie. She goes everywhere with us. She’s part of the family, and we even listen to her design ideas very closely!

We collect: We absolutely love the work of Australian artist Kate Bergin. Her inspired use of wild animals in domestic settings is clever and fun. We’ve collected a number of her works.

Something you may not know about us: When we’re not working, we escape to our house on the lake. There, we let it all hang out—we garden and take the canoe out on the lake to drift and dream. What a life.

What brings us the most joy: Working together as a team in life and in business. We are two halves of a whole, and we could never do the caliber of work we do without each other.

What’s next: We’re about to start a very special new project—an Upper East Side townhouse that was once the home of the F.A.O. Schwarz family. We can’t wait to dive in.

We hope our creative legacy will be: That our interiors will look as good, and their owners will feel as good about them, in the future as the day we put the finishing touches on them. We want to stand the test of time—what better way to be remembered!


BRIAN SAWYER

Architectural Designer/Landscape Architect
Sawyer | Berson
sawyerberson.com


Portrait: Bobby Doherty; Project: Joshua Mchugh

I would describe my style as: Eclectic, a mix of all that inspires me, from ancient artifacts to modern design.

If I weren’t an architectural designer/landscape architect, I would be: A chef! I’ve been fascinated by cooking from a young age. I had worked my way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child by the age of fifteen.

Favorite perk of my job: Having a great partner and wonderful team allows me to travel frequently for inspiration. I encourage everyone here to do the same; it’s an essential part of a life in design.

I’m currently coveting: The his and hers Oops dining chairs by Pierre Yovanovitch at R & Company, along with the paper flower sculptures by Livia Cetti from John Derian.

The moment I felt I made it: I’ll let you know when it happens:)

The design trend in 2018 that I’m most excited about: The return of craft and celebration of master craftsmen. We’re seeing quality and hand that is unprecedented in everything from fabrics to lighting.

I’m best known for: Our ability to work successfully in almost any style. We’re currently under way on a Regency home on the water in Long Island. We’ve dubbed this style “Beachency.”

A career highlight to date: Whenever a client calls to say how happy they are in their new home and that you’ve changed their lives.

What makes me feel at home: Sitting by the fire with friends, watching old movies with takeout from Gene’s on 11th Street.

Currently on my radar: The near completion, after five years, of a razor-sharp modern apartment at 740 Park with an incredible art collection.

Most treasured item in my home: Aside from Alice, my black pug, an original eighteenth-century ink drawing by the French architect Gabriel of the Hôtel de Crillon.

I collect: Antique Chinese jade and scholars’ rocks, which I have been fascinated with since studying Taoism and Chinese philosophy in college.

Something you may not know about me: My first name is James.

What’s next: Our first book showing the firm’s work over the past eighteen years.


RUSSELL GROVES

Architect
Groves & Co.
grovesandco.com


Portrait: Groves & Co.; Project: Eric Piasecki/Courtesy of Groves & Co.

I would describe my style as: A layered modernism combined with a refined aesthetic of luxurious materials and finishes. This brings together the best of design, comfort and style infused with warmth and ease.

If I weren’t an architect, I would be: A therapist. No, wait, I do that already.

I’m best known for: Clean, simple lines contrasted with luxe materials. It’s this combination that makes our work both modern and comfortable. An effortless assemblage of architecture, interior design and art, which creates unique and luxurious settings that also reflect the individual client’s taste, vision and individual needs.

Favorite perk of my job: The design process. I love to sit at my desk and draw, although this happens less and less nowadays. I also love to work with craftsmen. We make a lot of custom furniture, and collaborating with these artists is inspiring.

The moment I felt I made it: I started my firm in 1999 with my first project, the incredibly successful Tea Box at Takashimaya. It won an American Institute of Architects award and really launched my career.

Currently on my radar: We’re launching our plumbing line this fall and working on a new edition of Groves & Co. furniture.

A career highlight to date: Some of the most exciting projects we’re currently working on are two of Michael Kors’s private residences—one in Florida and one in New York City. We’re also excited to be working on two large residential developments—1 Seaport, an all-glass, sixty-story waterfront tower in lower Manhattan, and Waterline Square, an illustrious collaboration with Rafael Viñoly.

Most treasured item in my home: My art collection. Recently acquired works by Damien Hirst and Tracy Rocca have added great pops of color to my Chelsea home.

I collect: Cutlery. Odd, I know, but in architecture school, I was given an assignment and asked to rethink flatware. I became obsessed. I look for items that are luxurious but highly functional. The best also have a simplicity of form.

Something you may not know about me: I love color. We’ve garnered a reputation for neutral palettes—it seems to be what attracts our clients—but I’m trying to insert more color into our projects in a modern way. I love soft, heathery lavender and French blue.


ERNEST DE LA TORRE

Designer
de la Torre design
delatorredesign.com


Portrait: Peter Murdock; Project: Ashkan Sahihi;

I would describe my style as: I like to think of myself as a Savile Row tailor, putting together the right materials to perfectly fit a client well into the future.

If I weren’t a designer, I would be: An artist, probably working in the medium of sculpture. I like creating beautiful rooms, so objects aren’t far off.

Favorite perk of my job: I thought it would be riding on private jets, but it’s not very relaxing when you’re being pummeled with questions! I would say establishing relationships with extraordinary clients and artisans and learning their stories.

I’m best known for: Expensive interiors, but it’s my clients’ excellent taste that drives their selection of the best.

The moment I felt I made it: When my project was on the cover of Elle Décor and I was named to their top 25 designers in America that year.

Currently on my radar: I’ve been asked to be on a certain TV show, but I’m not sure I have the time or stomach for it.

I’m coveting: Time with my two-year-old son. He’s growing like a weed.

A career highlight to date: Doing a super yacht for a client, and then getting a week on board as a wedding present!

Most treasured item in my home: I know it’s corny, but my family. Everything else can be replaced.

Something you may not know about me: I’m a first-generation American. My parents were here for medical school at Northwestern and stayed once the revolution started.

What brings me the most joy: Professionally, it’s having clients tell me I’ve transformed their lives for the better. When a sixty-five-year-old billionaire tells you that, as one did, it’s something you never forget.

What’s next: I want to create a monograph of my work, but time seems to evade me. I’m working on a fabric and furniture line, too.


EDWARD SIEGEL

Architect
Edward Siegel Architect
edwardsiegalarchitects.com


Portrait: Aaron Tredwell for Cooper Robertson; Project: Peter Murdock

I would describe my style as: Contemporary classicism.

If I weren’t an architect, I would be: Probably an interior designer. They bring a very special level of refinement to my projects, which I encourage and truly enjoy.

Favorite perk of my job: In the pursuit of my profession, I’ve visited and created some of the most beautiful private residences in the world. Visiting these places and creating them has been, and continues to be, an extraordinary privilege.

I’m currently coveting: Talenti’s hazelnut chocolate chip gelato. Do I really need to say why?

The moment I felt I made it: I get that same “I made it” feeling every time a client tells me how much they love their home that we designed for them.

The design trend in 2018 that I’m most excited about: I’m less concerned about trends and more concerned about creating value.

I’m best known for: Luxury apartment renovations because we know how to make a multimillion-dollar home chic and timeless.

A career highlight to date: Designing a 35,000-square-foot recreational center for an Upper Westchester private estate—it was truly a commission of a lifetime.

What makes me feel at home: Saturday mornings, having breakfast on my Sag Harbor porch looking over my garden towards Noyack Bay.

Currently on my radar: I’m finishing up the gut renovation of an 8,000-square-foot luxury duplex penthouse that includes a 2,600-square-foot terrace in Tribeca.

Most treasured item in my home: My sepia-toned, hatched background Savarin print by Jasper Johns. He is the most painterly and creative of the Pop artists.

I collect: Contemporary works on paper. My parents collected them, and having grown up with serious art on our walls, it’s hard to give it up.

Something you may not know about me: I’ve been the co-chair of the AIA NY Chapter’s Interiors Committee since 2011.

What brings me the most joy: My friends, family and, most importantly, my life partner of seventeen years.

What’s next: I’m working on the 15,000-square-foot renovation of a 1901 townhouse. The interior spaces are palatial, and we’re giving them a new lease on life.

I hope my creative legacy will be: “He left behind a beautiful and timeless body of work that increasingly became more valued with the passing of time.”


RICHARD HARTLAGE

Landscape Architect
Land Morphology
landmorphology.com


Portrait: Derek Reeves

I would describe my style as: We practice a wide range of styles, and I like that. It keeps me constantly learning and critical in the best ways, improving my craft. My own personal garden style is modern with rich, meadow-like plantings, but we get hired for Georgian Revival, Arts and Crafts, and really the whole gamut of projects.

If I weren’t a landscape architect, I would be: A psychiatrist, because that’s half the job.

I’m best known for: Our planting design, a high level of detailing, the completeness of our construction drawings and bringing our projects in on budget. Each of these takes daily discipline, attention to detail and a follow-through that I value and am proud of.

The moment I felt I made it: We received our second large commission and knew the first wasn’t a fluke!

A career highlight to date: Working on the mile-and-a-half Seattle Waterfront, at Rockefeller Center and the Leach Botanical Garden in Portland.

Currently on my radar: The Authentic Garden: Naturalistic and Contemporary Landscape Design with Monacelli Press, published in 2015, celebrated a broad cross-section of landscape architects and garden designers in the U.S. Additionally, Color for All Seasons: Field Guide is a book on the gardens at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle. I’m working on two new books on residential landscape due out in 2018-19.

I collect: Art photography, because I do a lot of garden photography and I’m inspired by the wide variety of approaches beyond my own style. I’m also a mad plant collector, constantly trying new plants to use later on projects. I try them, observe them for strengths and assets, compost them and move on to the next ones. That leaves my garden in a state of dynamic flux, which entertains my neighbors and friends.

What brings me the most joy: A great dinner I make at home for close friends. It will be three to five courses. I always plate each course and never serve buffet-style because I love the ritual of being deliberate and slowing down the pace of life to have entertaining and challenging conversation with family and friends.

Most treasured item in my home: My four-foot-tall turquoise mosaic glass Italian penguin that sits in my dining room and stands attentive for all my diners.

What’s next: We want to do more urban projects and botanical gardens because my staff loves working in the public realm. I still have a deep love of residential gardens because they’re so personal and richly detailed. I will start teaching in the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Washington next spring, and I’m looking forward to that experience.


DELPHINE KRAKOFF

Designer
Pamplemousse Design
pamplemoussedesign.com

I would describe my style as: A creative problem-solver.

If I weren’t a designer, I would be: A chef, as I love to cook for friends and family. I still plan on going to culinary school at some point in my life—or the next!

Favorite perk of my job: It used to be travel, hands down, pre-internet days…. But even without as much travel now, I still have the best job—I get to work with the most talented craftspeople to create beautiful rooms, in beautiful settings, for the most sophisticated and trusting clients.

The design trend in 2018 that I’m most excited about: I’m not big into trends. I prefer to create unexpected juxtapositions regardless of the origin or time period of the pieces.

I’m best known for: Telling it the way it is, good or bad.… Remember, I am French!

The moment I felt I made it: My first major shelter magazine cover, back in 1999.

What makes me feel at home: My kids, a cashmere blanket and a “Baies” Diptyque candle.

I collect: What do I not collect would be an easier one. I accumulate design, art, books, watches, reading glasses, sneakers, teas and so much more.

Currently on my radar: Houses That We Dreamt Of, the coffee table book that my husband Reed and I just published with Rizzoli. It features six of the homes we created together for our family, with forewords by some of our chicest and most design-savvy friends: Martha Stewart, Tory Burch, Hamish Bowles, Simon Doonan, Jacques Grange and Marc Benda. I am so excited for my first book tour!

Most treasured item in my home: The Rulhmann coiffeuse that Reed gave me as my wedding gift.

Something you may not know about me: I am a marathon runner. I love to run by myself, with no music. Some of my best design ideas have come to me during long winter runs.

What brings me the most joy: Hearing my kids laugh.

What’s next: I’m working on a lot of exciting projects. My next big installation will be in Miami this winter at the Richard Meier Surf Club—what fortunate timing!

 

 

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