February 8, 2017

Jarvis Wong Imbues a Chelsea Apartment with a Relaxed Elegance Designed to Highlight the Art

A bicoastal couple taps Jarvis Wong to design a Manhattan nest using their art collection as a starting point

by Deborah L. Martin interior designer JarvisStudio photographer Joshua McHugh


Faced with an empty nest in a family-sized apartment on the Upper East Side, this San Francisco/New York couple decided the only sensible thing to do was to downsize to a more manageable flat in Chelsea. They brought designer Jarvis Wong into the conversation. "This project really started with the art," says Wong. The couple had an extensive collection, and wanted Wong to work some very important pieces into the design aesthetic. "We spent weeks going through the collection, understanding why certain pieces were important to them."

In the open plan living and dining areas, two very important paintings helped inform the designer's choices. He picked up some of the olive greens from a Robert Rauschenberg in the dining area, and some yellows and golds from a painting by Marcel Mouly, hanging over the living room sofa. "The homeowners are very relaxed people so we wanted to give the apartment a relaxed elegance." Wong added subtle shimmer to the walls, and chose finishes and textures that added layers of discovery. A round coffee table from Bernhardt appears to be bronze with brown glass, but upon closer inspection a subtle olive green is revealed. Wong's background in fashion comes to light in his work. "Fashion adds to design. You can find little nuances in color, and if you approach it with a sense of humor, you can add more richness and subtlety."

In the entry hall, a nickel-accented wall mirror hangs over a sideboard from the couple's collection, and vintage Paul McCobb stools.
In the entry hall, a nickel-accented wall mirror hangs over a sideboard from the couple’s collection, and vintage Paul McCobb stools.

Wong worked with the artistic palette in each room, while simultaneously ensuring the rooms had a narrative that flowed from the entry through the bedrooms. In the kitchen he created a gallery wall at one end, incorporating mixed-media pieces from the collection. Dramatic dark walls set off a bright white island and countertops. In the long hallway leading to a guest bedroom, the designer placed black-and-white photography of the couple's daughters over a Lucite and brass bench from Jonathan Adler, which seems to levitate in the hallway. Upholstered in pale green, it picks up the bright spring color from a painting hanging in the adjacent bedroom. Accent pillows in leaf green continue the story, offset against a chocolate rug. "Green has a brightness that wakes you up," says Wong, and "I liked the lighthearted playfulness of the Lucite bench." In the master bedroom, the warm beige and brown is accented by pale blue, and a vintage Gaetano Sciolari chandelier adds a touch of Hollywood glam.

Custom cabinetry throughout adds storage and elegance in pale ceruse finishes. "The pale cabinetry adds to the relaxed feel of the space," says Wong. "I like to mix textures, finishes, and colors. Just as in fashion, it takes the look to the next level."

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