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A Duplex With Scandinavian Mood In Manhattan


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An interior design project of a massive duplex space in Manhattan, just steps from the Hudson River, with a price tag we guesstimate to be somewhere near US $10 million, is challenging yet appealing to any designer.

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Add to the mix the fact that one of the homeowners also owns one of New York’s most prestigious and largest antique dealerships specializing in Scandinavian furnishings, and you have yet another challenge – and a delicious opportunity.

This is the home of Jill Dienst, owner of Dienst + Dotter Antikviteter who before starting the dealership worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, antiquaire Didier Aaron, and decorator Jacques Grange antique, and her investor husband Dan, the former CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

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It is a sublime example of the intricate balance between what to include and what to leave out.

London-based, British designer, John Pawson and Jill Dienst have created an exquisite display of what is not so much minimalism as it is reductivism in a literal sense: Leaving out everything that does not need to be there in order to create an inimitably personal environment that only this home can have.

ny6There is an almost eerie sense of emptiness and open space, a very Scandinavian feature indeed. The pristine living area, for example, has white walls, floor, ceiling and window treatments augmented with the sculptural shapes of a white vintage Philip Arctander armchair, a white sofa by Stephen Sills and a free-form Joris Laaman cocktail table. An 18th-century stark Swedish chair anchors the space in the corner by the fireplace that appears to be just a place for an open fire. That’s winter scenery in Scandinavia.

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The blanket of snow, the soft forms of rocks and small bushes under the snow, the light reflecting in the lake, with both natural light and the light from the fire reflecting the forms back to every surface.

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Some of the rooms seem almost industrial and cold, including the kitchen with its huge slabs of Carrara marble and Basaltina, the laundry room with its Swedish circa-1750 table as the only hint toward domestic chores, or the master bathroom with its 20-foot-long Carrara marble counter top and Pawson-designed soaking tub and fittings.

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But the key elements in the entire home are not so much the individual pieces as they are the texture of the surfaces, the proportions within the rooms and the quality of the light at different times of the day. There is an overall sense of peace and tranquility, a mood of history and Scandinavian functional excellence. Tuija Seipell.

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