Why Is This Year’s Kips Bay Show House So Special?

Interior design by Ken Fulk

Interior design by Ken Fulk

It’s all the buzz.  This year’s Kips Bay Show House is widely praised as one of the best in years. But what makes the 45th Kips Bay Show House so special? Did a new trend emerge? Was there a conceptual room that reverberated ? What precisely did the designers do different this year??

Classicism

Well, yes, there is a prevailing trend.

It permeates throughout the 45th Kips Bay Show House elevating all of the designs to the highest level, but it’s not new.  Rather, room and after room rocks because the designers followed the principals of solid, classic design.  Connoisseurship ruled every decision.

As design doyenne Bunny Williams says, “You’re giving people what they want–but it’s the best version of what they want.”  Designers looked to design history for inspiration.  They filled their rooms with museum quality furniture and blue chip art.  And they employed artisans to recreate decorative embellishments in the finest traditions in decorative arts.

I haven’t found a name for this trend so I am going to call it classicism.  I am all for it.

Who needs maximalism, minimalism, traditionalism and the like, if you go with the style you prefer but choose the best you can afford? And there isn’t a better guide than looking at great rooms and architecture when it comes to arranging your stuff in a livable way.

Let’s take a look at how it was done.

Design History

Richard Mishaan

Interior design by Richard Mishaan

Interior design by Richard Mishaan

Richard Mishaan‘s living room was filled with rich layers of pattern and objects.  Like several other designers, he said he wanted his room to look collected over time. Wallpaper inspired by Instanbul’s Topkapi Palace is the show stopper.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

Clearly Mishaan also had a  look at Renzo Mongiardino’s acclaimed room for Lee Radziwill.

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Nick Olsen

Nick Olsen’s room featured a beautiful French Art Deco tapestry by Jean Lurcat

Nick Olsen’s room featured a beautiful French Art Deco tapestry by Jean Lurcat

Designer Nick Olsen looked to the French Art Deco period and one of it’s leading designers, Jean-Michel Frankfor inspiration for his space.  He chose Frank’s signature straw marquetry to sheath his room, using a wallpaper by Maya Romanoff.

Nick Olsen

Nick Olsen

Jean-Michel Frank’s straw marquetry

Jean-Michel Frank’s straw marquetry

Janice Parker

Janice Parker

Janice Parker

Landscape architect Janice Parker created an Asian outdoor environment, complete with a moon gate, that echoed elements of Tony Duquette’s fanciful and iconic garden at Dawnridge.

Janice Parker

Janice Parker

Like Dawnridge, she used  similar textures and palette of verdigris and red, lining her space with lush plantings and bamboo.

Dawnridge

Dawnridge

Decorative Arts

Museum Quality Furniture

Interior design by Neal Beckstedt. Chair by Pierre Jeanneret

Interior design by Neal Beckstedt. Chair by Pierre Jeanneret

The 45th Kips Bay Show House is so filled with museum quality furnishings that it is impossible to show them all.  Let’s keep it simple and look at just two of my favorite chairs.  I love the Pierre Jeanneret chair, seen above, in Neal Beckstedt’s room.   In addition,  Rob Stilin includes a beauty by Mattia Bonetti--a current design darling who had a solo exhibition at Collective Design this year.  It has an especially sexy back.

Interior design by Rob Stilin. Chair in foreground by Mattia Bonetti.

Interior design by Rob Stilin. Chair in foreground by Mattia Bonetti.

Chair by Mattai Bonetti.

Chair by Mattai Bonetti.

Handpainted Wallpaper

No discussion of decorative arts at this year’s Kips Bay Show House is complete without mentioning the wallpaper.  I have never seen better. The handiwork is exquisite.

Ken Fulk commissioned venerable firm de Gournay to transform its traditional chinoiserie wallpaper to include  a magical menagerie of animals that escaped from a zoo.

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Similarly, Jonathan Savage asked  MJ Atelier to created a modern chinoiserie wallpaper filled with wildlife and flora from his home state of Tennessee.  The designs are hand sculpted with plaster using a pastry bag.

Interior design by Jonathan Savage. Wallpaper by MJ Atelier.

Interior design by Jonathan Savage. Wallpaper by MJ Atelier.

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What is old is new again.

Fine Art

Like the museum quality furniture sprinkled throughout the house, the Kips Bay designers carefully curated the art they hung on the walls.  Kirsten Kelli‘s  and Rob Stilin’s rooms stand out. Both were packed with art.

This angle in Kirsten Kelli’s room shows an iconic dot painting by Damien Hirst and part of a lovely blue abstract by Corinne Bizzle.

Interior design by Kirsten Kelli. Dot painting by Damien Hirst. Blue Abstract by Corrine Bizzle.

Interior design by Kirsten Kelli. Dot painting by Damien Hirst. Blue Abstract by Corrine Bizzle.

I love this abstract in Rob Stilin’s space.  It’s by Dan Colen and it’s done in bubble gum!

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Conclusion

The Kips Bay Show House is well worth a visit.  I simply scratched the surface!  It’s open through May.  If you can’t make it, please follow me on Instagram where I will continue to post more pictures.

And, if you are like me, and you like all types of design as long as it is done very well, we now have a name.  We are classicists. 

Photo credits: All Kips Bay Show House photos by Lynn Byrne, except for Rob Stilin’s room which are by Stephen Kent Johnson, and the large Savage Interior Design photo  from their website.  Topkapi Palace. Lee Radziwill photo by Horst.  Frank furniture color photos by Hermes.