Jennifer Weisberg Reimagines a Manhattan Apartment with a Major Art and Design Collection
The JLW Interiors principal designer cultivates a calming interior for a client's bold cache of works by Jean Dubuffet, Ellsworth Kelly, India Mahdavi, and Wendell Castle
When a couple who had lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan decided to downsize to a smaller apartment in their building, they asked the designer Jennifer Weisberg of JLW Interiors to give their new home a new look, while incorporating their impressive art collection. After living in a traditional apartment, “the wife wanted something different,” Weisberg explains.
The New York–based designer, whose work toward spare lines and quiet colors with occasional bright accents, often incorporates texture and pattern into her projects. But above all, she says, “I wanted the art to speak for itself.”
The entry, with its geometric-patterned, multicolored marble floor, and its wallpaper, awash in a subtle print, has two sinuous wood benches by Gildas Berthelot, above which hangs a colorful painting by the Nigerian artist Gerald Chukwuma. A painting by Ed Moses punctuates the opposite wall. At the far end of this space, a doorway leads to the living room, where one of Vladimir Kagan’s curved sofas sits near the fireplace, surmounted by a painting by Jean Dubuffet while a work by Fernand Léger adorns a corner dominated by a gleaming piano. The hand-painted wallcovering, which Weisberg had custom-colored, is inspired by the Japanese mending technique kintsugi; its “broken” spots are arresting, while its gray and white palette is soothing.
In the dining room, a striking three-panel screen by David Hockney inspired the backlit, verre eglomisé ceiling panel by the noted artist and designer Miriam Ellner. Weisberg wanted the ceiling’s patterns “to mimic the shapes in the Hockney screen, but not literally,” she says. Chairs by Kimberly Denman surround the brass-and-lacquer dining table by India Mahdavi, and the interiors of the Holly Hunt cabinets are a custom raspberry-colored lacquer that echoes a hues in the Hockney screen. Above each cabinet hangs a work by Ellsworth Kelly, which the wife found at Art Basel.
In the library, a painting by Milton Avery tops a sumptuous sofa, displayed against another multidimensional wallpaper from Casamance. The organic form of the Wendell Castle cocktail table contrasts with the crisp lines of the Amuneal cabinets and bookshelves. The slightly irregular forms of the horn and bronze cabinet handles are pleasing to Weisberg, who “loves the variations of a natural material.”
The master bedroom is lined with a custom, gray silk version of a wallcovering that is a collaboration between Fromental and Lalique—which the wife fell in love with when she and Weisberg saw it—and which is dotted with crystal birds that Weisberg placed herself. On one side of the room is a painting by the contemporary artist Maha Ahmed and, on the other, a drawing by Henri Matisse. The kitchen, with its geometric-patterned marble backsplashes, frames a view of an Alice Neel portrait that hangs in the entry.
Weisberg wanted to “curate a sophisticated, restrained and neutral palette” as a background for the art. She also focused on textures, especially the ones that are “more focused on tone, for a quiet elegance. I wanted it not to fight the art, but not to disappear either.” In these rooms, she strikes the perfect balance.