April 12, 2016

David Mann Creates a Jewel in the Sky

Architect and Designer David Mann helps an East Side couple downsize… up.

by Deborah L. Martin interior designer MR Architecture + Decor photographer Björn Wallander architecture MR Architecture + Decor

HIGH CONTRAST

When Daria and Mitchell Schrage wanted to downsize after their sons moved out of their 17th floor, Upper East Side apartment, they contacted their friend, architect and designer David Mann. "Originally they wanted to be closer to Central Park," says Mann, "but I convinced them that where they were was perfect." The post-war building had great bones, and Mann was convinced that they would be happy there. "The lobby is high-1970s design with travertine, wood, and a beautiful chandelier. And while you don't have the soaring ceilings you find in pre-war apartments, what you do have is solid construction and the casual elegance that defined that period."

In the entry an enormous painting by Nancy Lawrence incorporates mother-of-pearl inlay and seven layers of traditional Japanese lacquer. A bronze sculpture by Herve Van Der Straten and a glass vessel by Peter Bramhall add architectural detail.
In the entry an enormous painting by Nancy Lorenz incorporates mother-of-pearl inlay and seven layers of traditional Japanese lacquer. A bronze sculpture by Herve Van Der Straten and a glass vessel by Peter Bramhall add architectural detail.

"We wanted to scale down," says Mitchell, "and for us that meant moving up." Up, as in all the way up, to the 45th floor. Smaller than their existing apartment, but with massive views in every direction, it was perfect. "The original owners had it since 1974. It was untouched, but it was the perfect size," Daria says. Mann adds, "The views are among the best I've seen."

A corner of the living room is highlighted by an illuminated ceramic sculpture by Pamela Sunday, and aubergine cushions in cashmere by Loro Piana.
A corner of the living room is highlighted by an illuminated ceramic sculpture by Pamela Sunday, and aubergine cushions in cashmere by Loro Piana.

Mann gutted the apartment and transformed it into a jewel on the 45th floor. "We pushed and pulled until it was exactly right. We painted certain walls black so it's hard to distinguish where they are, especially at night. They seem to disappear." Furnishings are done in whites and neutrals, with rich aubergine in accents such as pillows and cushions. "I got a gift from Asprey and the color of the box inspired that choice," Daria says.

The art in the apartment completes the Zen aesthetic. Says Daria; "We wanted it to be environmentally part of the space, to be very soothing and calming." In the entry, a piece by Nancy Lorenz takes center stage and sets the mood. Carved, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and then covered with seven layers of lacquer, the piece shimmers.

In the master bedroom a textile wall hanging and a wool Turkish tulu on the bed add texture in a sleek environment.
In the master bedroom a textile wall hanging and a wool Turkish tulu on the bed add texture in a sleek environment.

While most of the apartment is high contrast black and white, the family room is done in taupe. "It's the most inviting and embracing spot. It's where we go all the time," says Daria. Although the public rooms are open plan, the family room can be closed off with a series of folding screens for privacy when their sons visit.

Recently, Daria had to spend five weeks housebound with an injured foot, and she says, "I fell in love with the comfort and serenity of the space all over again."

The built-in bar can be closed when not in use.
The built-in bar can be closed when not in use.

*Interested in more articles like this? Sign up for our Newsletter!

Join New York Spaces' Weekly Newsletter.

Subscribe