Oct 23, 2013

Designer Visions: Alessandra Branca for Elle Decor - Part 1

Last year I visited the the seventh-annual 'Designer Visions' by Hearst Magazines preview and was blown away. It appears that you all have loved that visit too, as many of those posts have remained on my top ranking posts of all time, especially  Matthew Patrick Smyth's room.

Alessandra Branca

Well then brace yourselves, as this year's showcase apartments were even more sensational.

Walker Tower, is most definitely one of Chelsea's most beautifully newly converted condominium, with it's strong Art Deco lines originally designed in 1929 by Ralph Thomas Walker.

Now, with over 47 incredible apartments (sign me up!) this 24 story building opened its doors to three fantastic interior designers ~ Carlos Aparicio for Veranda, Jamie Drake for House Beautiful and Alessandra Branca for Elle Decor.

I wanted to begin my feature of these apartments with the Rome-born, Chicago-based, Alessandra Branca's, design. Having followed her instagram images and after having the chance to speak with her after the showing last week, I have to say she is even lovelier in person than one could imagine, and not to state the obvious, an extremely talented designer... and a fellow VIRGO! Win, Win all around.

Alessandra tackled the layout of this very 'New York' apartment, with wide open spaces, columns and breathtaking views by creating several comfortable and unique vignettes that are just begging for a gathering of friends...you could almost hear the music playing.

The strong color palette of pinks, reds, neutrals paired with black and white in both modern and classical patterns and highlighted pieces of furniture, all thoughtfully placed juxtaposed against one another.

Take the contemporary Archival Pigment Prints, "Ninfa II, 2010, and Villa Borghese I, 2012 by Lawrence Beck from Sonnabend above the custom sectional banquette which rests on a Zebra Skin Rug. All anchored by the sculptural  Cast Bronze coffee table, acting as both art and function.

Frames Coffee Table in Cast Bronze, 2011, by Silas Seandel // Throw Pillows in Marmo Fabric in Red/Black Linen/Silk and Elizabeth Chintz Fabric in Rouge/Grey by Branca for Schumacher, and Prestwick Wool Satin Fabric in Azalea and Palermo Mohair Velvet Fabric in Scarlet by Schumacher

The drapery details throughout the duplex left me breathless, with each more beautifully executed and designed than the next.

In the living area, even the simplicity of the Lismore Linen Plain Fabric in White against the Gainsborough Velvet in Raven as piping by Schumacher just played to the Black & White trend that is still so strong in many interiors right now, but with a classical twist in its design.

3//Lismore Linen Plain Fabric in White and Gainsborough Velvet in Raven Piping by Schumacher

Textures, colors, patterns .. all part of the layering that made this space so comfortable and inviting. (they also happen to be some of my favorite colors, so I may be a little impartial!). This Upholstered 'Tete-A-Tete' was covered in Prestwick "azalea" Wool Satin Fabric and Palermo "scarlet" Mohair Velvet by Schumacher with the Espadrille Picot Border Trim in Lino by Samuel & Sons happily rests on a Bessarabian Area Rug Carpet Woven with Two Central Medallions within a Floral Border.

The coral tones were highlighted by each different texture and an occasionally pop of color throughout the open living space in the choice of decorative pillows. One stood out, as Alessandra pointed out that it was a custom designed hand marbleized fabric seen on the chair below in leather, and on the pillows for the banquette in a linen. 

Throw Pillows Grey 3 Fabric by Muriel Brandolini, Prestwick Wool Satin in Azalea by Schumacher
Elizabeth Chintz Fabric in Rouge/Grey in Branca for Schumacher.

1// 2//Louis XVI Painted Demilune Console With Stone Top Above Guilloche Frieze with Hanging Garlands Supported by Tapered Fluted Feet and Stretcher Centered by Classical Urn Trophy, France, ca. 1780, from Atelier Branca - Natural Rock Crystal Table Lamp by Liz O’Brien Editions

American James Mont Style Black Cerused Oak Cabinet
USA, Circa 1950, DavidDuncan Antiques

A special treat was this four panel trompe l'oeil 'mandolyn' screen by Piero Fornassetti. Really a spectacular piece again almost casually placed alongside an American James Mont style black cerused oak cabinet from DavidDuncan Antiques. It just all flows together seamlessly...

A Pair of Louis XVI Cream Painted Bergeres France, ca. 1900, Upholstered in Elizabeth Chintz Fabric in Rouge/Grey by Branca for Schumacher and Prestwick Wool Satin Fabric in Azalea by Schumacher with Brown Scallop Trim by Rogers & Goffigon, from Atelier Branca

Wouldn't you know it, of course there was a little touch of "chintz" hopefully making its way proudly back into design schemes (I am a sucker for chintz!), on these Louis XVI cream French bergeres with Elizabeth Chintz Fabric in Rouge/Grey by Branca for Schumacher, with a brown scallop trim by Rogers & Goffigon.

Leaving the living area and upon entering into the open Dining Room space in all very soft whites tones you immediately . In a room which is completely exposed and could almost be overwhelmed by these large windows and the view beyond, Alessandra wonderfully created this intimate dining experience by encapsulating the room with drapery panels in Branca Stripe for Schumacher, a Custom White Lacquer Dining Table by Two Worlds Art.

1//Fallow Deer Antlers Mounted on Carved Wood Form and Steel Stand, U.S., ca. 21st Century, from Gerald Bland
2// Bosco Dark Natural Place Settings, Stag’s Head Stemware Branca Sable and Noir Embroidered Placemats/Dinner Napkins on Natural White Linen (all Atelier Branca Collection) ~ 
Silver Plated Albi Flatware by Christofle

 The hand marbleized pattern returns again on the custom shade pendant which hung over the dining table.

Custom Cone Pendant Light Fixture Laminated in Branca Marmo Marbleized Silk Charmeuse Fabric
in Café au Lait by Atelier Branca Collection

You see what I mean about the views!?!

the 360 views from the balcony and windows - Chelsea, Manhattan

From the living room, into the library, Alessandra showcases her red palette which she is so well known for, against black and white with dark walnuts tones.
"...In many of the interiors Ms. Branca designs, red is the accent color of choice, brightening up rooms grounded in black and white. “Red is that moment of exuberance,” she said. “It’s energy. It’s visual enthusiasm... "            - from NY Times // By TIM McKEOUGH // Published: February 13, 2013
The mixtures of patterns here, are a great testament to her skill in utilizing this very strong and stark color palette in a very masterful way. The soft upholstered walls, in Branca Natural/Dark Faux Bois Fabric that are design highlights from her collection for Bergdorf Goodman in New York, as were the pieces of flatware in the Dining Room, all of which is on display on the 7th floor into November.

Illustration by Donald Robertson

Regency Mahogany Armchair with Sabre Leg Supports on Gilt-Bronze
Claw Feet Castors Upholstered in Gweneth Linen Fabric in Greige by Schumacher, England, ca. 1830

"Reinforce" (Acrylic on Canvas), 1972, by Athos Zacharias, from Gerald Bland anchored by a Pair of Swedish Mid-Century Gilt Brass Wall Sconces hang above the chesterfield sofa in Gainsborough 'watermelon' Velvet by Schumacher with a clever reversible rouge alexander tartan throw with fringe and hand embroidered paisley details.

Chesterfield Sofa Upholstered in Gainsborough Velvet Fabric in Watermelon by Schumacher Reversible Rouge Alexander Tartan Throw with Fringe and Hand Embroidered Paisley Detail and Fleurette Pattern in Noir
Ottoman Upholstered in Sofia Diamond Fabric in Noir by Branca for Schumacher with Cambridge Strie Braid Trim  in Black by Samuel & Sons

Who could resist working in this space.. especially with the cast bronze sheep keeping watch?

Cast Bronze Sheep in the Manner of Claude LaLanne, U.S., ca. 1960, from David Duncan AntiquesWalnut and Ebonized Striped Trestle Table (Desk), ca. 20th CenturyAnthony Lawrence Belfair Easton Armchair in Alexander Tartan Fabric in Rouge by Branca for SchumacherTrinity College Library Dublin I (Candida Höfer, C-Print), 2004, from Sonnabend

Make sure to come back tomorrow, for Part 2 of Alessandra Branca's design for Elle Decor ~ Designer Visions, as I continue the tour into the bedrooms. You will not want to miss it!

*all images are my own. please feel free to share, but only with the proper credits ~ 
Jennifer Mehditash for Dec-a-Porter

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