Two strangers lock eyes across a crowded room, realize they are not strangers at all, and a new chapter begins. In this case, those strangers were architect Mario Egozi and the owner of this Upper West Side apartment, a childhood chum he hadn’t seen in decades. Their chance reunion at a birthday party was kismet, as she soon came to purchase said home—and it needed a major redesign. Assured by his meticulous renovation of a mutual friend’s residence, she swiftly hired Egozi to create an elegant, livable abode fit for her and her husband’s philanthropic endeavors and extensive art collection.
The brief began with a nostalgic entreaty: “In the very beginning, it was established that it should feel like her favorite residence, her apartment in Paris,” Egozi recalls. In pursuit of a more European character, Egozi reconfigured the unit’s floor plan, relocating the kitchen, opening key rooms to one another and combining a series of disparate corridors into a single grand passageway lined with concealed storage. Next, he introduced a material palette of handcrafted millwork, finely plastered walls, sculptural hardware and white oak parquet de Versailles flooring. Together, these elements make for a bespoke, Paris-meets-Manhattan envelope worthy of the locale: a pristine prewar apartment building overlooking Central Park.
Inspired by his clients’ art collection, which centers on works by female surrealist painters, Egozi tackled the architectural detailing with a strong sense of artistry. “My idea was to take classical Parisian detailing and adapt it in a contemporary way,” he explains, adding: “When designing a traditional apartment, it needs to evoke something of today.” This approach kicks off in the foyer, where the architect commissioned plaster artisan Stephen Antonson to fabricate a large-scale, three-dimensional wall hanging to insert into the ceiling. Its layered discs appear to float overhead, fostering an impression that is especially striking when the piece is backlit at night. “You can do anything you want on the ceiling,” says Egozi. “It’s a place to get creative.”
In the same spirit, he tasked Diane De Roo, an artist he discovered on Instagram, with creating a plaster relief with a botanical motif to fill the molding over a nearby doorway, as well as a series of oversize tiles to adorn the walls of a nearby powder room. Outfitted with dark-green millwork that frames glazed ceramic tiles in a complementary hue, the architect designed the space as an urban garden folly. “Powder rooms are historically a place where we can be a little frivolous,” he notes.
That grass-green shade surfaces again in the living room, with its cashmere-velvet sofa and pixelated wood-and-silk rug, which join a medley of fine midcentury furnishings upholstered in luscious jewel tones. (Egozi credits Jean-Michel Frank’s famed New York City living room for Nelson Rockefeller as a “great inspiration” for the home’s palette.) His carefully deployed color splashes provide a happy throughline for the residence, seen in pairings like the vintage Martin Eisler and Carlo Hauner lounge chairs dressed in Pierre Frey velvet, which converse with a ruby-red backsplash tile in the nearby open kitchen. There, milk-glass cabinetry framed in brass and bar shelves lined in eglomise panels add layers of richness that do not go unnoticed by this client. “Even the window seats in the living room are lined with mirrors, so they reflect the sunshine and the scenery of the park inside,” she adds. “Those are the kinds of details Mario thinks about.”
The owners host frequent dinners, fundraisers and chamber group concerts in their new home, treating lucky guests to this vibrant mise en scene which includes important works by Alice Rahon, Remedios Varos and Max Ernst. (A recently acquired piece by Leonora Carrington, currently on loan to the Venice Biennale, will soon rejoin the ensemble.) “Mario created a home that lifts the spirits—especially during the dark, gloomy New York winters” shares the owner. “I trusted him to do what moved him, and I could tell he was working from a place of real joy. This may sound a little woo-woo, but I think allowing for creativity really infuses something into a space.”