If you’ve been paying attention to design news over the past year, you’ve likely noticed the overwhelming upgrade in apartment model residences. No longer the cheesy staged afterthoughts thrown together by realtors, today’s model residences are as carefully designed and outfitted as developers hope their building’s best units will someday be.
In Rafael Vinõly’s towering 432 Park Avenue, Kelly Behun created a spectacular, art-filled aerie; Brad Ford brought the best of his Fair showroom to life in Shigeru Ban’s Cast Iron House. Both were newcomers to the model unit game. Now, noting the same opportunity for exposure and creative freedom that entices designers, manufacturers are looking to get in. Earlier this month, we toured Artefacto’s residence in Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum tower. The latest iteration? A model in DDG’s The Standish, Brooklyn Heights’ hot new condo building (which enlisted Matter’s Jamie Gray and Olivia Sammons to conceive an earlier unit), outfitted by Design Within Reach.
The venerable manufacturer, which offers designs by the likes of Isamu Noguchi, Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson, has teamed with interior architects Atelier Armbruster to create a comfortable home using pieces from its vast archive. “When we were approached to furnish the model apartment, we felt it was an opportunity to champion Atelier Armbruster’s work,” says DWR head of PR Kim Phillips. “They are a young, female-led firm, and their body of work demonstrates a sophisticated approach to modernist interiors that possess a serene elegance using the choicest materials — the marble!”
Digging deep into the DWR archive, Yaiza Armbruster and her team selected a bevy of furniture items with a wide range of texture and silhouette, in an attempt to create a warm space with visual interest and functionality.
“It was exciting to have the entire back catalog of the DWR line as a resource,” says Armbruster. “Our vision was to use the lesser-known pieces and give them a chance to shine.” Items included in the home range from a Hella Jongerius rug to a Paulistano armchair by Paulo Mendes da Rocha to the soon-to-hit-market Lispenard Sofa by Neil Logan.
Such originality is in line with the new concept of model units as showstopping creative feats, rather than blank spaces devoid of personality (several developers interviewed by AD confessed that prospective buyers often inquire about buying some — or even, in rare cases, all — of the furnished model’s furnishings). “Model residences are the best way to transport a prospective buyer into the experience of living in the space,” Armbruster says. “For someone who doesn’t plan spaces for a living, it can be difficult to go from the images they collect for inspiration to envisioning how it will actually feel in the space they are considering. So they afford an opportunity to move fast and with more freedom than an actual client might provide. They are a pure reflection of a creative vision that is less encumbered by compromise.”