Tour a Fifth Avenue Apartment That Melds Milanese Style with Old New York Charm
Award-winning designer Edward Yedid of the firm Grade creates a modern Manhattan sanctuary for a longtime friend based in Italy
After leaving New York for Milan in her early twenties, an old schoolmate of award-winning design principal Edward Yedid was ready to dip her toes back into the Manhattan pool. With family still living in the city and her three daughters nearing college-age, the expat and her Italian husband purchased a modest prewar pied-á-terre in her former Upper East Side stomping grounds in anticipation of increasingly frequent future visits. Seeking comprehensive architectural, interiors, decorative, and artistic intervention, she decided to relinquish the responsibility to her lauded, life-long friend Yedid, who heads full-service design firm Grade New York along with architect Thomas Hickey.
While preserving the traditional Upper East Side context of her childhood, the client also wanted to ensure “that what she’s grown to love in Italy also became a part of the language of the project,” notes Yedid. Such juxtaposition required a careful layering of the two aesthetics. Pairing the firm’s architectural prowess with its inside access to the collectible art and design market (the upkeep of the client’s friendship was, after all, predicated on Yedid’s regular European sourcing trips), Grade infused each space with carefully balanced contrasts: traditional and modern, textured and sleek, muted and bold, rounded and rigid, hard and soft.
Tapping top international galleries including R & Company, Maison Gerard, Nilufar, and Marienne Boesky, the team skillfully injected such contradictions harmoniously using equal parts architecture, art, and design. United through a palette of cool neutrals and rich jewel tones, each room of the pied-á-terre presents its own compositional story, akin to exploring the many compartments of a jewelry box.
While the inherited apartment layout presented a series of disjointed spaces, Grade smartly reorganized the 1,800-square-foot floor plan to comprise an entryway, dining space, kitchen, living room, three bedrooms, and a trio of baths. In the core of the apartment where windows are scarce, an intricate, softly contrasting white luster daub plaster was added to raised paneling to cleverly reflect light, illuminating the combined foyer and dining room.
Immediately upon entry to the apartment, the composition begins to coalesce: Traditional yet pared-back moldings and chevron floors meet contemporary curves; a plush stool by Israeli designer Ayala Serfaty, a stately, spider-like chandelier by Achille Salvagni, urchin-like ceramic vases by the Haas Brothers, all joined by the artful hues of Francesco Clemente’s Chain (1996), hanging over a vintage 1950s Italian banquette. “I’ve loved Francesco Clemente ever since I saw Great Expectations,” adds Yedid. “He was responsible for all the artwork in the Gweneth Paltrow rendition.” A goblet by Dale Chihuly stands out among the smattering of curated baubles within the Verde Palladio Marble-topped bar.
The same green marble appears in the form of a monolithic fireplace surround at the center of the apartment’s light-filled living area. The striated plaster technique which unites this room with the preceding foyer was actually derived from the stone’s uniquely bulbous veining. The surround and all the millwork throughout the home were custom-designed by Grade and manufactured near the client’s home in Italy. As the pandemic limited travel during the process, this proximity allowed the client to participate firsthand in the New York project.
In the living room, a sizable Edward Burtynsky photograph sets the palette, providing a contrast between warm sunrise hues and sharp black accents. Shapely bronze tables from the hands of Mark Brazier-Jones, Ado Chale, and Stacklab rest atop an expertly textured area rug from Mark Philips. “I think we captured a very old-world European moment in the living space,” says Yedid of the small Martial Raysse portrait suspended over the sinuously curved Studio Glustin loveseat. “I love how this corner balances the artwork, scale, and proportion in an unexpected yet collective way.”
Further European references extend to the kitchen, where modern Italian sensibilities present themselves in the form of sleek charcoal cabinetry. An entire wall of Calacatta Lincoln marble is punctured by custom floating shelves, while a dynamic ink study on paper from German-Venezuelan visual artist Gego sits beneath.
In the primary bedroom, another prominent female artist appears over the plush, custom-designed headboard and floating nightstands. A trio of vibrant works by Marina Adams connect with the vintage mauve Murano chandelier overhead. Purple again punctuates the predominately white marble primary bath in the form of a custom flush mount light from Atelier 001. The same light appears in the bathroom of the secondary bedroom, this time in a jade green to match the wide expanses of Tiffany cristallo marble.
A delicately swooping wall hosts the curved vanity counter, further contributing to the tapering lines, waves, and fluid connections that give the apartment a sense of feminine modernity. Outside, blue-green hues set the tone for the secondary bedroom. Such rich jewel tones are captured in Immaculate Conception, a photograph from Karen Knorr depicting an Italian palazzo, which hangs above the side table by Sebastian Herkner.
Leaving absolutely no stone unturned, Yedid and his team achieved a sophisticated and subtly feminine cohesion of Italian modernist aesthetics and quintessential New York charm. It’s a perfect home away from home for a lifelong friend.