Kelly Behun Curates a Striking Manhattan Pied-à-Terre
The designer orchestrates a serene city escape for an international couple with an edgy collection of contemporary art
When London-based real estate investor Marcus Meijer and his wife, Maria, connected with Kelly Behun to design their New York pied-à-terre, they very much wanted to embrace Manhattan living but also needed a calming space to unwind with their young children. “The location and architecture of the building are very different from our townhouse in Notting Hill,” says Marcus, who purchased a high-floor unit in Herzog & de Meuron’s sinuous West Village tower. “The 14-foot ceiling height and wraparound windows with views of the Hudson River, Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center, and Empire State Building meant that we wanted to maximize the views and the light.”
Even without decoration, the apartment asserted itself as something special. “With that undulating façade, you really feel like you’re perched out over the city and over the river,” says Behun. “It’s quite magical.”
The building’s unique form resulted in unconventional interior architecture that offered remarkable sight lines but also presented design challenges such as anvil-shaped rooms and full walls of glass. Behun leaned into the nonconformity, floating a rigorously curated selection of pieces such as pistachio green Campana Brothers seating and an Oscar Niemeyer lounge chair in the living room. “We’re always mindful of setting, views, and context, so the apartment feels light and ethereal,” says the designer. “Rounded shapes and very tactile finishes like shearling and bouclés—that’s the language that we work in.”
Less was certainly more in the furniture selection, which included custom designs by Behun as well as remarkable pieces by Pierre Yovanovitch in the primary bedroom, Mathieu Lehanneur in the dining room, and Daniel Arsham in a child’s bedroom. “It’s a minimally furnished apartment, but it has these rich touches,” says Behun, who kept the palette neutral and the shapes organic to draw the eye out to the incredible vistas.
“It’s a minimally furnished apartment, but it has these rich touches”Kelly Behun
The sparse interior also allowed the large-scale artworks room to breathe. An ambitious Glenn Brown painting is displayed near a digital wall work by teamLab in the dining room, while an oversize Damien Hirst canvas looks onto an Ashley Hicks totem in the living area. “The ceiling heights allowed us to hang artworks that wouldn’t fit in our London house, like Veil of Love Everlasting by Hirst—it bursts with color and fills the entire living room,” says Marcus, who recently acquired Anna Weyant’s It Must Have Been Love, now installed in the kitchen. “We met Anna for the first time when she was just starting to work on that painting so that makes it even more special to us.”
Other artworks that bring an added dimension to the home include a sheep and a lamb by François-Xavier Lalanne. “They’re the first thing we see in the morning. With the Empire State Building right behind them, it is a great view to wake up to,” says Maria.
Despite the residence’s location just steps from bustling West Street, there is an overall sense of peacefulness. “It just feels very calming,” says Behun of the result. “There’s something quite restorative about being there.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Spring Issue under the headline “Urban Oasis.” Subscribe to the magazine.