Instant Classic

Photographs by Cari Vuong

Delphine Krakoff had her work cut out for her. Her client, a fashion executive relocating to New York from Paris, presented her with a two-part challenge: Find a place to rent, and have it impeccably designed and move-in-ready … within three months. Krakoff, the principal of Pamplemousse Design, was undeterred. “I love working fast,” she says. “You have a very clear point of view when you do.”

So the search began. Krakoff visited nearly two dozen homes before securing this nineteenth-century townhouse with a massive back wall of glass and steel. Given the restrictive schedule, Krakoff had to proceed without the usual process of consultations and meetings, and knowing only that the client prefers, in both her home and wardrobe, a black-and-white palette. So the designer used that as the home’s foundation. “She’s an immaculate woman who has a super-identifiable eye,” Krakoff says. “You would recognize that this is her house.” Beyond that, Krakoff was free to play, as the client was bringing nothing with her—no furniture, rugs, art. “She came with two suitcases—that’s it,” says Krakoff.

Krakoff’s strategy was to intersperse iconic mid-century furnishings with contemporary designs. She sourced museum-worthy vintage finds from auctions, galleries, and eBay (handily avoiding the wait for custom items) and set these off with pieces that straddle the line between art and object, like Maarten Baas’s charred dining table and a lighting fixture by Joris Laarman for Flos. Rugs and custom floor-to-ceiling drapery (a rush job from one of her go-to vendors) add warmth to what Krakoff calls the “cold architecture.”

What resulted was a home that feels cozy and lived-in, and truly reflects the client, despite the fact that it was designed in a scant 90 days. Krakoff says she wouldn’t change a thing if given more time. “There are benefits of working slowly. But I like working fast or very slowly—in between is the worst for me.”

Krakoff describes this room as “a place where family can come together.” It is furnished with a mix of cozy and sleek pieces. Krakoff had the Gio Ponti club chairs upholstered in the same fabric used to make Steiff teddy bears. Joris Laarman’s dramatic Nebula pendant is from Flos. A desk by Pierre Charpin, along with felt-covered chairs co-designed by Delphine Krakoff and her husband, Reed, provide an elegant working atmosphere in the third-floor living area. Photo: Cari Vuong

White-leather chairs from Cappellini flank the table. The green felt-covered Parsons table is a one-of-a-kind by Krakoff. Photo: Cari Vuong

Krakoff gave the Pippa folding desk to her client”only to discover that the woman had known Rena Dumas, who designed the piece for Hermès. The photograph opposite the bed is by the French artist Valérie Belin. Photo: Cari Vuong

“I always ask clients if they really want a dedicated dining room,” says Krakoff. Rather than reserving the space for eating only, she had it double as a library”one of her signature touches. A group of five pendants designed by Marcel Wanders for Flos hangs above a table by Maarten Baas. Baas transforms furniture by burning, then sealing it to preserve the charred effect. Photo: Cari Vuong

Instant Classic