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
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."
"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."
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.
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."
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