Spaces: Joe D'Urso: Pardo + Gresham Residence, Manhattan

. Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pilar Viladas:

"It is possible to be a modernist and still have lots of stuff. In this Manhattan apartment, more is definitely more.

For those of you who were out of the room the last time I discussed this subject, let me repeat one more time: modern does not equal cold and sterile. Modern can — and should — be as richly textured as it is rational and ordered. The apartment shown here, in the United Nations Plaza (the pair of swank towers designed by Harrison, Abramovitz and Harris in the 1960s), is a rewarding case in point. Its owners, Benjamin Pardo and David Gresham, are passionate, as well as informed, about design, and it shows. The nearly 1,700-square-foot apartment, which was given a thoughtful renovation by Joe D’Urso, is filled with a profusion of modernist and contemporary furniture and objects — from Saarinen to Sottsass — that in lesser hands would look cluttered.

Layering is used to great effect. In the living room’s main seating area, classic pieces of 20th-century furniture are grouped around a two-tier coffee table (designed by D’Urso for Knoll in the 1980s). The glass top allows you to see through the objects placed on it to those on the bottom, creating a deep, layered composition of form and color. In the kitchen, a small Eero Saarinen dining table overlaps a shallow bookcase, and in the master bedroom, two coffee tables intersect, one midcentury Scandinavian, the other a smaller version of the D’Urso table in the living room. (Pardo jokingly describes this layering strategy as, ‘‘You have a lot of furniture in a very small space.’’) The stainless-steel kitchen is warmed by the addition of a brass Alvar Aalto hanging light and a Persian rug. The apartment’s main hallway was turned into a library with floor-to-ceiling bookcases that also display Pardo and Gresham’s ceramics collections. There is nothing in these rooms that isn’t modern, yet the cumulative effect of their design is — dare I say — almost cozy. This is modernism that anyone could live with.

Talk about a meeting of great minds. Joe D'Urso is one of the most important interior designers of the late 20th Century. Named by New York Magazine as a Design Revolutionary, D'Urso pioneered the minimalist industrial loft look in the 1970's. Benjamin Pardo is the senior vice president for design at Knoll. David Gresham is the director of graduate studies at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit (and the Steelcase's former global vice president of design). The home is at once brimming with modernist icons, yet never cluttered. Warm and cozy, yet sleek and clean lined. Achiving perfect balance, this is the definitive home for any 20th Century design collector.

Photographs by Anthony Cotsifas.

Via New York Times


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