A CANADIAN-BASED DEVELOPER, A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE WALDORF ASTORIA AND A $150 MILLION RESTORATION HAVE RESULTED IN THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PALACE HOTEL, A BUILDING COMPLETED IN 1929 COMBINING GRECO-ROMAN, GOTHIC AND OTTOMAN STYLES, THAT NOW INCLUDES A PENTHOUSE BACHELOR PAD.
By Linda Marx | Photography by Kim Sargent | Interior Design by Geoffrey Bradfield
The history of the Palace Hotel, together with modern applications, have provided interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield with a unique creative opportunity. After seven years of reconstruction, only the original four-story facade remains. In collaboration with architect Don Goldstein, he was able to design these interiors using an artistic vision to embrace both the past and the present.
But he instantly learned that the St. Martin, Lesser Antilles vacation home was different. Owned by his Russian-speaking, New York-based clients, this estate, located in Terres Basses, an exclusive enclave on St. Martin that is anchored by the celebrity favorite La Samanna Hotel, had additional historic cachet.
Bradfield has designed projects for three generations of this cosmopolitan and philanthropic family. Here, he was hired to create the interiors of the penthouse, including this apartment for their youngest son. The parents live in the grander residence of the contiguous penthouse, and there are two additional apartments on other floors for further siblings.
The clients, who have endowed an antiquities museum in their name, a library, medical facilities and schools, entrusted Bradfield to use his award-winning talents to convene a singular confluence of ancient and modern, where 3,000-year-old mosaics “consort with the conceptualist art of now.”
This 3,000-square-foot apartment, situated in the adjoining residential tower of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, is located at the intersection of King David, Agron and King Solomon streets. The grander residence, which occupies much of the top floor, is in a glass enclosed tower facing north and east. But this residence, because it looks west and north toward the interior of the hotel and Independence Park, is more in keeping architecturally with the facade of the original structure.
“Instead of curtain walls of glazing,” says New York based Bradfield, “the fenestration here creates arches, setting up a less-than-contemporary framework for a young man who is very much of the present. He has a personality larger than life, both courteous and animated. He is almost always trailed by an entourage of eclectic friends, so his apartment had to resonate with a much younger point of view.”
To achieve this design goal, Bradfield kept the palette minimal using the richness of Macassar ebony everywhere possible. They combined this high density wood with lighter marble floors, as well as a consistency of primary color.
“The entry announces the opulent yet understated palette of materials in a gallerylike space dominated by an impressive manipulated and acrylic-mounted photographic work by Jean-François Rauzier called Traversees,”says company vice president Roric Tobin.
The art transcends its contemporary look with the suspended-in-time quality of dream-like reverie, and with the way in which it recollects an ancient network of aqueducts. Since the bachelor son is young, Bradfield was less concerned with referencing the cross-millennial history of Jerusalem in his art and furnishings. “There did not have to be the same respect for location,” he believes.
Yet, Traversees affords a clever sense of transition from the main residence and its antiquities to a more modern environment by representing age-old structures in a contemporary way. Its arching spans also nod to the curved windows in the media room, which are visible from the entry hall.
A bold 1956 Joan Miro lithograph called La Femme au Miroir is a highlight of the rich Art Deco demeanor in the glamorous media room. Bradfield placed the work above a custom grouse-tweed sofa. Walls are upholstered in a fabric of alternating thin pinstripes using the colors midnight and denim blue. There are stepped ceilings and a stepped Macassar ebony panel to house the television. Such details bring to mind an Art Deco movie palace. Two club chairs are upholstered in a royal blue and chocolate-brown cut velvet stripe while streamlined, nickel-plated Z tables complete the room.
The designer connects this space to the open living area by utilizing the exploding colors of the Miro work and its combination of jots and meandering lines for a lavish custom-cut pile rug.
Atop, he used comfortable yet young and stylish contemporary Italian sofas and chairs upholstered in a quilted gray linen. The pieces complement the gray lacquer cabinetry and countertops of the Bulthaup kitchen located on one side of the space. More Macassar ebony in brick-shaped panels is staggered and outlined with steel “grout” on another wall where the large flat screen television is placed. “The staggering is reminiscent of stacked Jerusalem limestone on city buildings,” says Bradfield, who is also reminded of Donald Deskey’s design for the late theatrical impresario Samuel Lionel “Roxy” Rothafel’s apartment at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The choreography of this smart, sassy and artistically brilliant apartment is without a visual flaw. The master suite, designed in neutrals with subtle shots of color approached in the art, accessories and throw pillows, follows perfectly with its dance of modern masculinity.
Orthogonal walls of Macassar ebony frame the mirrored walls and the custom bed frame. The custom side tables are structures of the same wood that frames drawers faced in bronze-smoked mirror. A custom wing chair is upholstered in gray wool felt situated near a floor-to-ceiling glass window.
The master bath is stunning, resembling a sophisticated spa in Eilat. The room is done in Silver Ermine marble, which is cut into tiles and irregularly stacked to resemble the architecture of the locale, and also to give the space added textural interest, says the designer. More Macassar ebony, topped with pure white Thassos marble, forms the long custom vanity. Other bathrooms repeat the theme in innovative and surprising ways.
Whether a person is walking through the foyer, down the marble halls, or in and out of the public and private rooms, the furniture, art and sculptures, so rich in design and imagination, embrace the sophisticated present. Such detail is interpreted exquisitely for a young man who is eager to enjoy the good life in one of the world’s most fascinating cities.