Chic in the CityAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
For a California client’s pied-à-terre, Martin Kobus takes Manhattan
When Martin Kobus was installing his Marin-based firm’s first New York project in the landmark Woolworth Tower Residences, And Just Like That…, the Sex and the City spin-off, was filming scenes a couple of floors above him. (That same apartment was apparently used as a set for Succession, too.) Only in New York, right?
Kobus’s client, similar to the And Just Like That… lead character played by Sarah Jessica Parker, has a passion for the sartorial, having worked as a tech/fashion executive for years. And like the TV series’ protagonist, she is also a single woman living in the city (albeit only part-time, as this is her pied-à-terre, with her main home now in Beverly Hills). Fittingly, according to Kobus, for her sleeping quarters, the client had one directive: sexy. “We wanted to make it more feminine and soft,” he says of the blush scheme, which includes a mural wallpaper, a faux-fur throw and shimmery velvet drapes. “It’s very tactile, with beautiful fabrics.”
In addition to the filming upstairs—“We were on a list to get into the building,” recalls Chris Bergin, Kobus’s partner in life and work—there were other aspects of the apartment’s location that made for unfamiliar territory for Kobus Interiors. Occupying about half of the 34th floor, the 3,800-square-foot unit required installation via an elevator. So the living room’s custom S-shaped double-sided sofa, spanning 16 and a half feet in length, was an especially memorable challenge. “We folded it in half—the base,” says Kobus. “It barely fit in the elevator.” (His retelling brings to mind another New York show: the episode of Friends in which Ross and Rachel unsuccessfully carry—and pivot—a sofa up the stairs.)
The Tribeca residence marks Kobus’ third under-taking with this client. He previously completed her Belvedere house, which was “much more airy and had a lighter palette; it was more California and was also about the water view—all the colors from the water and the sky,” he explains. While both projects are characterized by an abundance of natural light, as well as an emphasis on the homeowner’s art collection, the design concept in New York is decidedly “moody.” Having developed a trust with her, Kobus was essentially given carte blanche.
In the living room, a Julie Mehretu painting was the jumping-off point for the metallic and olive aesthetic choices. A flat white wall was transformed with four 12-by-4-foot églomisé panels created by San Francisco’s Villafranca Studio, which Kobus recessed between columns that he added for architectural interest. The sinuous custom rug by Scott Group Studio was somehow left off the truck that brought the furniture east to New York and—since it was one of the first items to be installed—had to be shipped overnight. Curves are a recurring theme in the living room, with the rug and double-sided sofa, plus another sofa covered in sheepskin, round metal nesting tables by Butler and a pair of lounge chairs by Pierre Paulin.
The motif continues in the adjacent dining room’s Kobus-designed furniture: a table composed of steel bases and an organic-shaped églomisé top (also the work of Villafranca Studio), surrounded by 3D-printed and resin-casted chairs in a smoky hue. As striking as these elements are, the pièce de résistance is Enso, a digital work by teamLab from Pace Gallery, which is on a loop that runs 18 minutes and 30 seconds. (Kobus, Bergin and photographer Douglas Friedman waited for just the right moment to capture the brush strokes of the circle.) The room also boasts a view “all the way up Broadway,” says Bergin.
In the hallway, Kobus leaned into the darkness—lining the walls and the ceiling with an Élitis design in charcoal, then painting the doors and trim to match. One section of the wall, in the foyer, is embellished with beading in an array of colors, giving the effect of flowers in bloom. “It’s like a beaded gown,” says Bergin. One of the apartment’s three bedrooms was converted into a media room that is awash in purple and gold. The room can still accommodate guests, however, thanks to a chic sofa bed designed by Kobus and upholstered in a Sahco ochre velour with a geometric pattern. The walls are sheathed in de Gournay’s Namban, a gilded paper with swirls and graphic lines, while the ceiling features Élitis’s Paradisio, whose aubergine tones are reflected in the Riflesso tables.
In Sex in the City Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, once remarked that “in New York, you’re always looking for a job, a boyfriend or an apartment.” For Kobus’s client, with the completion of this project, at least one out of the three is settled—and spectacularly so.