TRD peeks at Posen’s 16W21 handiwork

TRD New York /
May.May 10, 2010 06:36 PM
alternate textInside the celebrity clothing designer Zac Posen-designed condo at 16 West 21st Street

In many ways, fashion designer Zac Posen created the interiors at new condominium 16W21 as though he himself would be living there.

An avid cook, the 29-year-old created his dream kitchen, he said, with a porcelain sink and free-standing island. He even went so far as to use his own possessions — including paintings by his father, artist Stephen Posen, and a signed, nude photograph of rocker Courtney Love — to decorate the model apartment he designed at the building, which will be publicly unveiled at an opening party tonight.

“I tried to sleep here last night,” Posen told The Real Deal half-jokingly, standing in a pink-and-red guest bedroom with a velvet canopy built into the wall. “I like how the colors work.” (See slide show from The Real Deal’s tour of the model unit above.)

alternate textA small scale replica of 16 West 21st Street used in ad campaign (Credit: Steve Hellerstein courtesy of Imagination)

Posen’s bold style may not be for everyone, but that’s fine by the developer, F&T Group, which recruited the designer for the project, along with architect Morris Adjmi. They’re hoping to attract exactly the “creative class” of high-end buyers that Posen typifies, said Catherine Lee, a managing director at F&T.

“Zac Posen would be our target customer,” Lee said.

That vision is clear in the ad campaign for the project, which features a full-scale miniature model of the building peopled by tiny, impeccably dressed dolls. In a series of videos that will soon be broadcast in Manhattan taxis (see one segment at bottom), the dolls
enact various dramas — even hopping in and out of bed with each
other — to evoke images of the hip, artsy residents the developer hopes
to attract.

alternate textA small scale replica of 16 West 21st Street used in ad campaign

The nine-unit boutique building, located at 16 West 21st Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, is nearly completed. Prices at the condo start at $1.8 million for a two-bedroom and range up to a $6 million penthouse, according to Lee, who said the building is currently being marketed to friends and family and will officially go on sale to the general public in three weeks. Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Hagay Azoulay is handling sales at the project.

Posen, who burst on the fashion scene while still in his 20s, designed all of the project’s interiors, from cabinets to sink fixtures, in addition to staging the two-bedroom, two-bath model apartment. The buyer of the model unit, a duplex, gets all of the furniture selected by Posen except for his personal belongings, which he said are merely intended to “inspire” potential buyers.

alternate textA small scale replica of 16 West 21st Street used in ad campaign (Credit: Steve Hellerstein courtesy of Imagination)

To inspire himself while designing 16W21, Posen visited architect Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House in Houston, and studied the linear motifs of Austrian architect Josef Hoffmann. The condo is full of geometric patterns, which Posen said he chose because they’re “fresh and clean.”

Oak floors mix straight and lattice patterns, while pink-and-gold diagonal stripes are sculpted into the model unit’s living room wall. The border on the master bedroom rug matches the gold-painted molding that runs throughout the unit. Posen used glossy blue lacquer on the hallway walls “to get all of the planes reflecting,” he said.

Some elements were influenced by Posen’s childhood. “I grew up in a loft,” said the Soho native, explaining that he divided the spacious living room into two distinct areas to give the feel of separate rooms.

Other rooms have a very unique feel. The walls of the master bathroom and a dressing room are covered entirely in beveled-edge mirrors, creating a trippy, “Watcher in the Woods” effect. The master bedroom pairs a bright purple bed frame with black and white paisley wall paper.

Adjmi said collaborating with Posen on the project was “refreshing.”

“Zac Posen has amazing color sense,” he said. He was pleased with the way Posen’s bold patterns interact with the “whiter than white” glass exterior of the 14-story building, which is reminiscent of the 1890s-era white-washed brick buildings characteristic of the Ladies’ Mile Historic District.

He added that he liked the way Posen brought a contemporary feel to the space.

“This feels very fresh,” he said. “It’s not like walking into your grandmother’s apartment.”


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