Architect Jean Nouvel is known for his out-of-the-box thinking, like his design for an Arabian resort built in a rock. So, it makes sense he would be tapped to take on a project steeped in artistic pursuits: the new residential tower, 53 West 53, located above Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art. And while we've gotten to see the exterior of the tapered 1,050-foot-high building come to life, Departures got an exclusive look inside the new model residence designed by acclaimed interior designer Brad Ford.
One of the many unique features of this building is that every 145 residences are unique, thanks to Nouvel's signature exposed structural system. That in itself makes each space a work of art. So when Ford was tasked with outfitting residence 36A—a two-bedroom priced at $9.74 million—he looked for ways to highlight the world-renowned architecture while still making it a livable space.
"When we work in space with really beautiful architecture, we try to be conscientious about the balance of all the different elements," Ford told Departures. "We don't ever want the artwork or the furniture to compete with the architecture. It's about creating a harmonious, cohesive aesthetic where things are super edited. But each piece also has to be unique and somewhat impactful. For us, there's that fine line between being really simple and being boring or cold and austere."
The result was a 3,020-square-foot space that blended various materials, art, and furniture pieces from historical collections and emerging designers. A Chieftain Chair designed in the 1940s by Finn Juhl would be a standout piece on its own but seamlessly blends with a Charlotte Perriand-inspired coffee table, Jens Risom club chairs, and Japanese rice wallpaper.
"We really tried to make sure that each piece we brought in had just as much integrity as the architecture," said Ford. "But it was also important to bring in furniture that had these curves and organic shapes to them to help soften some of the hard edges of the architecture."
The Field+Supply event creator also used a warm color palette, nature-inspired textures, and artwork to bring a certain earthiness to a modern space and created curated sections to achieve that homey feel.
"There are these zones that we wanted to make sure we're complementary to each other," said Ford. "Combining some of these iconic furniture designers from the thirties, forties, and fifties helped achieve that with these modern makers. It brought out a certain level of soul. It feels pretty edited but also inviting. You just want to sit on that sofa and look out at those views all the time."
Plus, given the physical connection to the MoMA (three new gallery levels were integrated into the building base), the apartments were designed to be repositories of art. There are art walls that are well proportioned and in good locations to display a resident's personal collection.
And all of this highlights the interior architecture by Thierry Despont, such as kitchens with backlit, translucent Italian statuary marble backsplashes, polished-nickel detailing by Molteni & C. Polished, statuary marble countertops with beveled edges, walnut doors, and custom bronze hardware.
Of course, the common spaces and amenities are equally museum-worthy. Residents also have access to a wellness center featuring a 65-foot lap pool complete with a vertical poolside garden, a regulation squash court, double-height lounge, private formal dining room overlooking Central Park, wine tasting room, private screening room, children's playroom, and private storage available for purchase.
But the highlight (beyond the design and architecture) has to be that residents receive deeded memberships at MoMA and the ability to host private events in the museum's iconic Sculpture Garden. Forget a night at the museum; 53 West 53 is an opportunity to live at the museum.