A Pristine, Gallery-Like Aerie in the Heart of SoHo

In a clean-lined Renzo Piano apartment building, Magdalena Keck flexes her curatorial eye to showcase her creative-minded client’s growing art and design collection.

All photography by Jeff Cate

Magdalena Keck often describes her interiors in musical metaphors. When we last checked in with the New York interior designer, whose namesake firm masterfully devises pristine residences that achieve a harmonious balance of light and composition, she likened her human-centric spaces to “instruments tuned for a symphony performance.” Her latest feat, a sumptuous art-filled residence inside a Renzo Piano building in the heart of SoHo, Manhattan, is no different. 

The light-filled aerie achieves a similar balance that allows for Keck’s signature brand of warm minimalism to shine. Her creative-minded client’s extensive art and design collection, which includes pieces by Pierre Yovanovitch, Sheila Hicks, and Christophe Delcourt, as well as his own photography, complements Piano’s clean-lined interior architecture while not overpowering it. Unexpected details abound—a vintage chair in the bathroom and custom oak-paneled closet lend touches of intrigue and sophistication throughout. Below, we get the full download.

Inspiration: The apartment explores the boundary between a residence and a gallery. It’s the fourth residential project for the client, a designer himself, who was drawn to Renzo Piano’s newly completed 595 Broome tower in SoHo. The clean architecture creates a stage for Magdalena Keck’s particular brand of warm minimalism that gently stimulates the senses while remaining functional and approachable. The building’s architectural features informed many of the design decisions. 

Takeaways: Furniture, art and lighting are used together to offer a level of subtlety and precision, and result in a sequence of carefully curated vignettes. This project also provided an opportunity to showcase some treasured pieces, like a Donald Judd print that has traced across the multiple collaborations between Keck and her client, and a textile hanging by Sheila Hicks. Both form part of a collection that the pair have worked together to develop over several years.

Challenges: The project’s construction portion was nearing when the pandemic began. There was a long pause before the crew could return safely to finish. The loss of momentum and regrouping was challenging.  The furnishings were due from all over the world, and the whole world was stopped in its tracks. For example, fabric for the sofa was being woven in India and then needed to go to Paris for the sofa to be made. Each step took months due to constricted workflow and shipping worldwide.

More details: Lighting is carefully considered to offer different moods and levels, through pendants, wall sconces and table lamps. The installation of tiny, almost invisible recessed lights throughout the apartment, and the relocation and replacement of outlets to seamlessly integrate with the layout and scheme, exemplify the attention to detail. These small but important touches bring a maturity and sophistication to the space, as do many unexpected moments. A vintage chair in the bathroom. A bespoke oak-paneled closet. 

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