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May 2014: A look back at the month’s main event​

Trend-Spotting at Kips Bay

10 Eye-Catching Concepts

For more than 40 years, Springtime in the New York design community has included a whirlwind tour of the inspiration-filled rooms of the annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House


Part fine arts exhibition, part carnival of can-you-top-this creativity, the Show House has a reputation for pulling out all the stops in ways that result in both stunning beauty and outrageous showmanship—all presented to the public for a very good cause: to raise funds for Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. Early numbers suggest that this year’s event was a smashing success, doubling attendance from past years and raising a record number of funds for the Boys and Girls Club’s after school and enrichment programs.  


This May, twenty-two celebrated interior design and architecture firms transformed the interior of 457 Madison Avenue—one of Midtown Manhattan’s grandest landmarks of the Gilded Age—into a decorative arts playhouse, where fantasy clients conjured in the designers’ imaginations inhabit spaces ranging from the playful to the jaw-droppingly beautiful. These are not rooms to live in…they exist for only a month, and then poof! They disappear from all but memory and the pages of countless newspapers, magazines, and design blogs around the country. The 42nd Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House closed to the public on May 29th: But the trends documented here will be seen in the rooms we execute for months and years to come. 

10 Trends from Kips Bay


1.  GALLERY WALLS—AND GALLERY HALLS. New Yorkers number among the world’s most devoted collectors of modern photography (both color and black and white) and contemporary art—and the evidence was everywhere at Kips Bay, including the “Some Like It Hot” bedroom/sitting room designed by Cullman and Kravis, Inc., which featured a sizzling mix of fine contemporary photography and framed prints culled from a vintage New York City Firefighters Calendar


2.  STATEMENT CEILINGS. Martyn Lawrence Bullard used Schumacher paper of his own design to create a patchwork effect on the ceiling of the Main Floor’s Grand Entry Hall. Markham Roberts covered the ceiling of their Gentleman’s Study in cork paper. SPAN Architecture bathed the ceiling of the third floor hall in colored light with linear LEDs. And Mendelson Group gave their space's ornamental ceiling a luminescent lacquer finish. 


3.  REFLECTIVE SURFACES: MIRRORS & METALLICS. With a little help from the white-glove general contracting firm Best & Company—and the 22-foot scaffold their crews erected on site—John Douglas Eason refurbished the mansion’s Main Staircase with hand-painted wallpaper from the Alpha Workshops, bronze-glazed ceiling, and a stunning Oh Mei Ma Kabir chandelier, from Ingo Mauer, and reflected the whole scene in a custom-fabricated screen of mirrored glass—gracefully foreshadowing a trend repeated in multiple rooms.


4.  STATEMENT LIGHTING. For ceiling fixtures, nothing dinky will do: Monumental, artisan-crafted pieces raised the eye upward, making another scene on the ceilings. Floor lamps doubled as sculpture, as seen in Carrier & Company’s chic Sitting Room, with an elegant hour-glass-based midcentury “Calla,” from the inspired collection of Bernd Geockler Antiques.


5.  ASSERTIVE COLOR. Calm, monochromatic interiors have not faded away. But fiery red (William T. Georgis), auto-body orange (Vincente Wolf Associates), soft tangerine (Cullman & Kravis), and spring green (Alexa Hampton, for Mark Hampton, Inc.) reminded us of the transformative power of paint—and lacquered, glazed, combed, and stenciled surfaces. 


6.  FIRESIDE SEATING. Quirky chairs and armless sofas, arranged in groups around the hearth, had a place in many of the mansion's grand rooms. A custom floor-to-ceiling fireplace screen (with a video of a roaring fire behind it) with an integrated bench, made of stainless steel rods by Ron Arad, created a modern inglenook of sorts in Ingrao, Inc.’s textural study. 


7.  ANIMAL PRINTS ARE STILL IN. Zebra, tiger, leopard, snake…they are all still there. Along with some fur (faux and otherwise). We especially loved the graphic tiger stripes from Beauvais that grounded Markham Robert Inc.’s teal-upholstered study. 


8.  WALLPAPER. Hand-painted, patterned, grass cloth, cork-veneered, metallic, and yes, even floral papers—as in Young Huh’s inviting Hollyhock Lounge—shook off any remaining remnants of prejudice against papered walls…and ceilings.  


9.  MAGNIFICENT MILLWORK. There’s no denying it: The Mansion on Madison’s period mouldings and millwork made the woodworking specialists in us long for the days before the “plain white box.” Elegant and well proportioned, fine woods and artisan craftsmanship made every room feel complete. We loved how Alexa Hampton, of Mark Hampton LLC, brought in an artisan to create a subtle strié finish on all the woodwork in her “Sitting Room Folly,” which proved that classical architecture doesn’t need to be so very serious to be strikingly beautiful.  


10.  AN INTERNATIONAL MIX. No room in the 2014 Kips Bay Decorator Show House was stuck in time or place. Perhaps nowhere was the effect more dramatic than in designer Juan Montoya’s masterful “Untitled” sitting room, where a circa-1830, 30-light cut-and-molded glass chandelier from Spain (via Mallett Antiques) illuminated a space furnished with a back-to-back pair of 16-foot serpentine sofas by Anthony Lawrence and a staggering collection of modern sculpture by an international roster of artists, including Sol Lewitt, Eva Hild, Marina Karella, Romeda Bruno,  and Xavier Mascaro, to name but a few. Everywhere, classical architecture was balanced with contemporary art. Serious architecture framed comfortable seating. Pattern and color played nice. Every room was unique. Just as it should be. 


1. GALLERY WALLS—AND GALLERY HALLS. Cullman and Kravis, Inc., at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

2.  STATEMENT CEILINGS. Martyn Lawrence Bullard, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

3.  REFLECTIVE SURFACES: MIRRORS & METALLICS. John Douglas Eason, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

4. STATEMENT LIGHTING. Carrier & Company, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

5. ASSERTIVE COLOR. William T. Georgis, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

6. FIRESIDE SEATING. Ingrao, Inc., at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

7. ANIMAL PRINTS ARE STILL IN. Markham Robert Inc., at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

8. WALLPAPER. Young Huh, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

9. MAGNIFICENT MILLWORK. Alexa Hampton of Mark Hampton LLC, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

10. AN INTERNATIONAL MIX. Anthony Lawrence, at Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

Images Courtesy of the Kips Bay Decorator Show House

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