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Maximalist Makeover

Ian Schrager’s sleek new apartments are being sold as a minimalist’s dream. But that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.


An ad showing John Pawson's rendering, torn from a magazine.  

We’ve seen it in countless magazines, but we never fail to stop and stare anew. Of the many renderings depicting future apartments in new developments, it looks, well, the most real: that light, those trees, all that beautiful, calming, haute-monastic space. It’s the ad for Ian Schrager’s first residential project, 50 Gramercy Park North at Gramercy Park Hotel, where the hotelier is building apartments with every five-star amenity, including not having to plan your own dinner party or walk your own dog. Schrager says he sees in residential living the “same opportunity that I saw in hotels and nightclubs before that. It’s just a barren wasteland ready for someone to come in and rethink it.”

Simulations by hypertecture  

And the rendering he commissioned has evolved from a piece of marketing material into a visual totem for our times. The brainchild of architect John Pawson—known for his Calvin Klein retail temple on Madison Avenue and an actual monastery in the Czech Republic—it instantly conveys a certain sort of luxuriously pared-down lifestyle. Spareness reads as money, and freedom.

But not everybody wants to live so free. So, we wondered, what would happen if we took Pawson’s space and handed it over to Miles Redd, a designer with a much more ornate aesthetic, giving him total liberty to digitally redecorate it? Things might turn out just fine. “The idea of working with Pawson” as the architect for the development, says Schrager, “was to provide a blank canvas for people, a modern envelope that would really be receptive to anybody’s style, anybody’s taste.”

Even somebody who loves color and patterns and . . . curtains? What about a big old classical bust? How would all that work in such a space? See Redd’s initial sketch, and the photo simulation to find out.

“The Pawson room leaves me cold,” says Miles Redd. “But I think for a modernist it is a sublime space to be in.” For a neo-Baroque contemporary classicist like himself, however, it simply wouldn’t do.

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