New York City has plenty of posh addresses, but few rival the penthouse apartments of the Woolworth Building. Nestled on the upper 30 floors of the 1913 Neo-Gothic-style tower, these luxury residences were carved out by legendary French architect Thierry Despont—he of the Statue of Liberty’s restoration—melding Old World style with modern sophistication.
Given this cosmopolitan pedigree, it makes sense that the address would appeal to a bicoastal fashion-tech CEO who frequently touches down in the city for everything from investor meetings to designer runway shows. Inspired by the building’s history and architecture, she tasked her longtime designer Martin Kobus with infusing the sunlit corner unit with as many dazzling details as possible.
“The apartment was a clean slate with a great floor plan and amazing amenities,” shares the Bay Area-based designer, who saw in his clients’ new Manhattan chapter the opportunity for a bold, urbane and art-filled pied a terre. “The owner’s been passionate about collecting art for a long time” he notes. “She wanted ambiance and a real New York City vibe—almost as though we were designing a gallery of her own.”
In turn, Kobus imagined spaces in close conversation with an array of newly acquired artworks, which the homeowner sought out almost as soon as she had signed the contract. And, to combat the unit’s traditional rectangular configuration and give each piece its own spotlight, Kobus set about crafting, in his words, “rooms within rooms.” He achieved this effect by using sultry textures and moody hues, thus establishing an intimate envelope that draws visitors into conversation with the pieces. “The apartment has that salon kind of feel with lots of tactile elements, which gives real depth and dimension to the experience,” the designer adds.
Take the living room’s hand-decorated eglomise-mirror panels (which are gilded and painted behind the surface rather than atop it), which play off a 24-karat Golden Bambi sculpture by Jasmin Anoschkin tucked in a corner. Kobus’ selection of a large-scale serpentine sofa clad in alpaca-wool bouclé offers a perfect perch for observing it all.
Throughout the residence, Kobus’ selections of furnishings and decor similarly act as artworks in their own right. A beaded wallcovering in the hallway leading to the bedrooms evokes the sequins of a haute couture gown, while a set of resin 3D-printed chairs mimicking smoky glass in the dining room feature an exaggerated shape that Salvador Dalí would approve of. In the media room, the overlapping circular tops of a mirrored cocktail table find their match in the gold-leaf spheres of a custom de Gournay wallcovering that looks like it could be a holdover from the building’s heyday. And, in the primary bedroom—a decidedly breezy and feminine space that serves as a visual reprieve from the otherwise moody Manhattan aesthetic—pendants of pastel Murano glass and crystal dangle like jewels against a painterly mural backdrop. Even the throw pillows peppered about the home carry through an artistic thread with their geometric, Escher-like patterns that nod to elements of cubism.
With its sky’s-the-limit attitude and parade of eye-catching flourishes, the finished result—which sits in the clouds in what was once the tallest building in the world—feels a fitting retreat for a high-style, high-powered entrepreneur. And like all great art, the seeming effortlessness of its beauty belies the careful calculations behind each stroke. “The apartment is chic and elevated, but still very comfortable and livable, too” adds Kobus, noting his client’s ultimate stamp of approval: “When she’s watching TV in the media room, or having a Campari at the bar, she’ll text me about how much she loves living here.”