Great interiors always have a beginning and seldom an end, as design is always a work in progress. For Manhattan interior designer Kiki Dennis, Asian art proved to be the starting point for a recent residential project.
Dennis, a partner of Deborah Berke Partners in Manhattan, started with helping a longtime client relocate their prized art and artifacts to a Jacques Grange designed building on the city’s Upper East Side. Moving from a warmer climate where their possessions and furnishings were equally at home with a different color palette, the designer notes, “They went from a really interesting original house in a tropical climate where the palette was influenced by nature with a lot of green undertones. Intuitively we knew we wanted to cool down the palette and make the new, lighter upholstery pieces be a foil.”
Choosing which art goes and which art stays is like selecting a favorite child or pet and fortunately Dennis could guide them through the process seamlessly. “They were very sentimental about their art and antiquities collections,” remarks Dennis, “and we worked very hard to curate the collection and chose pieces that were the most suitable and fit the space the best. That was the goal from the beginning.” Selecting from a variety of Asian pieces from a mix of countries, the collection represented a unique range of contemporary living artists as well as ancient pieces.
For the living room, the designer chose Dmitriy & Co. sofas with a soft mohair from Coraggio and for an added pop of color, silk pillows from Armani Casa fabrics. Black bookcases were designed by KGBL to show off the artifacts while two swiveling round back leather chairs from Design Within Reach were paired with the sofa. “The clients enjoy an item that is not always so high-end, and this was a nod to that,” comments Dennis. “These were just perfect for the space and size as well.”
An adjoining sitting room showcases a stunning diamond-patterned wall from Maya Romanoff that is actually inlaid wood and hand-fabricated by artisans. Dennis details, “It’s fairly easy to execute as it’s a wallpaper. We knew we had this amazing collection of wooden artifacts and the designs would be a beautiful backdrop to these pieces.”
The master bedroom also receives a fabulous wall treatment with another Maya Romanoff product made of mother-of-pearl shells as square tiles and glued and installed on the wall. “We wanted something with a little bit of glam that would give sparkle and romance to the bedroom.” Mission accomplished.
Dennis, who was drawn to design and art history at an early age, knew anything with interiors, decorative arts and history would be on her career path. “I am very fortunate to do work for clients who have an interest in art,” states the New York School of Interior Design graduate. “I love working with clients and finding that perfect spot for their pieces and how they can be placed in a new space. The setting can be a beautiful foil for a collection that is evolving and changing over time, and that is something that I have always been passionate about.”
Photography by Chris Cooper.
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