Transported. That is the first word that came to mind when I laid eyes on the space that my friend Kati Curtis designed for this year’s Kips Bay Boys & Girls’ Club Decorator Showhouse. Even through photos, the visual experience felt like a personal journey, and to my ears, the soundtrack was undoubtedly “The Lark Ascending.”
As it turns out, I was indeed picking up on what Kati was communicating through her work which she has aptly titled “The Path To Enlightenment.”
The journey Kati crafted for us begins on the 3rd Floor of the modern New York City townhouse. Curtis wanted the experience to feel like the visual feast for the senses one might encounter walking into the Garden Of Eden – layers upon layers of beauty and detail, representing the distractions that often meet us on our path to enlightenment. The centrepiece and visual narrator for the entire journey through the 3 floors of Curtis‘ design is the stunning deGournay St. Laurent wallpaper, which was selected, customized and installed for this project in a mere 7 weeks, something of a major miracle in the design world.
Each designer comes into their designated space at the Kips Bay Showhouse with far less time than usual for a project of this scale. That may be the understatement of the century. Curtis learned of her honoured appointment on March 17th and was photographing for the New York Times by May 7th, but she didn’t let that brief window of time stop her from shooting for the stars. The question she asked herself was simply “what would I do in my wildest dreams?” and then, with all the daring and bravado of a skilled and experienced artist, she dove in head first.
Sculptural but strange, the staircase itself was perhaps the biggest design dilemma when Curtis first entered the totally unfinished new construction, and she found herself engaged in a dialogue of sorts with this raw concrete element. Should she highlight it or find a way to make it disappear? Her final design choice is brilliant: a high gloss finish in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue which reflects the iridescence of the Murano glass chandeliers and captures reflections of the wallpaper, furnishings and skylight above. The vibrant blue is repeated in the waterfall surround on the sexy, modern burled-wood chest which anchors the main focal point of the 4th Floor, a more masculine vignette with almost intimidatingly strong high-back gothic chairs flanking it on either side.
The first two of the three floors of the staircase that Kati designed also offer discovery moments by way of a meditation alcove on the 3rd Floor and an adjoining hallway that Curtis filled with black and white photos of the children for whom this charitable fundraising Showhome is created each year.
Clad in a deep purple burgundy bamboo motif Dedar wallpaper, the adjoining hallway on the 4th Floor became a gallery where Curtis chose to display the colourful and vibrant works of New York artist Martin Sumers. Sadly, Sumers work had remained undiscovered in his lifetime, but through friend and gallery owner Gillian Bryce of Gillian Bryce Fine Art in Atlanta, Curtis discovered and fittingly reclaimed this New Yorker’s work and “brought him home.” Kati’s keen eye understood the value of Sumers’ incredible works, which are now in high demand by savvy art collectors as the values for each of his pieces continue to soar.
As with any spiritual journey, the final ascension throws off the beauty of distractions that were previously present in the form of the cranes, peacocks, flora and fauna on the lower floors. The visual journey ends with a delicately fluttering kaleidoscope of butterflies that disappear into nothing but the tea-stained ground of the spectacular deGournay paper, perhaps a metaphor for the peace and clarity Curtis hopes to achieve for herself and her clients through her work.
The Kips Bay Boys & Girls’ Club Decorator Showhouse is in its final days of showing to the public. If you’re in New York, be sure to make time for a visit to drink in all of the delicious details in person. Thank you, Kati, for sharing your transcendent vision with all of us.
Be sure to pop back next week for more design inspiration for living a beautiful life! Until then, enjoy the weekend with the ones you love.