An Apartment That Pares Art Deco Down to Its Most Elegant Moves

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A jewel-box one-bedroom that pares Art Deco down to its most elegant moves.Photo: Aviad Bar-Ness

“This is silver leaf, hand-applied, each square,” Ghiora Aharoni says, standing in the entrance of this Chelsea pied-à-terre. The client, he says, “wanted something special, something small and spectacular. He commissioned this as a work of art.” If you believe Le Corbusier’s dictum that “a house is a machine for living,” think of this as the Apple Watch version: the most streamlined, silent, seamless possible version of itself. It’s Art Deco form without the jazzy-fussy patterns: simplified and timeless.

The apartment is itself in a 1939 Deco building, modest looking from the street but immaculately maintained within. The space Aharoni’s client purchased was a one-bedroom, built in the prewar vernacular with a foyer leading into each room, creating a lot of dark, unnecessary spaces. It took a year and a half to rebuild, from totally gutting the space to laying in the final details, and entailed a research trip to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The result is a glowing, intimate universe of free-form space, a hybrid of conventional apartment and loft. The kitchen, dining, living, and sleeping areas aren’t blurred together, but they are open to one another. Once you have adjusted to the palette of soft, glowing, silver reflective light, you realize there is nary a right angle in the place, nor a light fixture, for that matter. The design of the kitchen — wait, is that area the kitchen? It has a counter, and curved-glass-encased shelving, but it’s nearly invisible until you are on top of it, when you can see that it’s equipped for a real chef.

A custom-designed divider gives the bedroom some privacy and contains a fireplace open to both the living room and the bedroom, as well as a pivoting flat-screen TV that can face either area. Most remarkable is the bathroom vanity counter, which runs like a satin ribbon from the bathroom wall on through the bedroom, flows into a sink, and continues on to form bedside tables. It is made of one unbroken piece of black Corian, a material, Aharoni notes, “that is very hard to do; it is such a diva. It is not friendly at all.” (He makes a point of adding that he’s highly dependent on the contractors F&N Solutions, who have worked with him for more than a decade and match his level of attention to detail.) Inside the bathroom, light reflects off titanium tiles — smaller than the average bathroom penny tiles, more like dimes — and the pocket door, when closed, has a Deco motif within the glass.

That’s about the only classic Deco element in the apartment. The rest is about form and material. “All these details were handcrafted,” he says, running his hand over a silver-leaf wall, explaining how each square was laid down. “These were caressed for, like, two weeks.”

*This article appears in the Winter 2017 issue of New York Design Hunting.