Granted, he didn’t get it right last time.
Garrow Kedigian’s old apartment on Park Avenue, just blocks from this new location in The Carlyle, was undoubtedly memorable: the Carolina Blue library is still an internet favorite, and the velvet banquettes with jingling gold fringes became the designers’ calling card -Louche , playful brand of classicism. But one misstep – cramming his office into the cramped adjoining bedroom – prevented the place from feeling like home. “I spend 99.999 percent of my time in my office,” he estimates. So in the new location, rather than hiding his bubbling creativity in the back of the house, he chose “the brightest, lightest room” for his work – and promptly painted it the color of glowing embers, as if to show off his roaring imagination returned was great time.
A home studio has always been the New York designer’s penchant, following the logic that, as a self-confessed workaholic, if he was working outside the home he would simply never be home. In Kedigian’s Georgian mini-home in his hometown of Montreal, the workspace is papered with hand-drawn interiors that are religiously crafted in the early hours and when he’s in Paris, where there’s his family and the Marché aux Puces, which he navigates with familiarity Most of us only have our supermarkets, he mainly shops for customers. But in New York, it’s work, and a lot of it, he admits. “It’s nice to dive in from a home environment, as I’m designing people’s homes – my mindset is already there.” It also has the benefit of inviting a potential client on a tour of his greatest hits. And who wouldn’t love to swing around The Carlyle, the storied 1930s apartment hotel where Mick Jagger apparently still has a home and JFK hides his fun using the network of underground tunnels.
But those are just footnotes for Kedigian. Instead, he fetishized the building’s classic iron doors and windows – even more so than the private entrance to Bemelmans Bar, if you can believe it.
“After all these years of living in New York and seeing those apartments with incredible iron doors and windows, I still look at those beautiful handles on those beautiful patio doors and I’m like, I can’t believe I live here may!” he says.
It is these twin spirits of discerning taste and childlike delight in such subtleties that give a Kedigian space its seriousness and spark. He’s a designer, yes, but he may have found his calling as a figure skater (he did so competitively in his youth), classical pianist (same) or astronomer, a hobby that often yields new color palettes and ways of playing bright. And deserved indeed Color is often the headline in his work; these jewel-colored capers are only pulled off thanks to the classical inflections of his architectural training. (Kedigian spent years in the Boston office of the legendary William Hodgins and still hand-draws floor plans.)
This austerity is evident as soon as you enter the sky-blue entrance hall, frosted with hand-painted gold zigzag poles. What you don’t see is the designer’s decision to draw attention and traffic flow to the living room by dramatically enlarging that opening. He also eliminated an uncomfortable soffit and an illogical arrangement of ceiling beams, adding another beam to create a pleasing overhead axis to the office; the reveal is laminated in colour, an attached strip distracts the eye from it.
The kitchen suffered from a patchwork of cabinets and walls. No chef – “The best thing I do for dinner is reservations!” he quips – he transformed it into a chic bar, using wallpaper to tie the disparate parts into a single narrative.
The gentle manipulation of space through architecture is Kedigian’s silent gift, a skill he honed with Hodgins. “He had a creative solution for every design challenge; Every blemish was an opportunity to make something appear intentional. I soaked it all up.”
Even the apparent stylistic gestures – for example the jubilant color – are underpinned by logic and meaning; a why for every mood. The lemon living room is a nod to Carlyle lobby decorator Dorothy Draper – her signature yellow velvet sofas (now refreshed) still feature on the ground floor. Borrowing that yellow for the living room walls, he chose black moldings to mirror the iron doors and window jambs, which, by the way, are imitations—just wood trim painted black, glued to the glass by his carpenter “to mimic the original window.” “, he says. The effect is calming, pleasant, right – confirmed by Hodgins.
While the designer employed some of these deft and attention-grabbing hues in his client work, he had saved one trait for himself: a unique, bold red room, a taste he picked up while training in Boston. “I always found her so alluring, so beautiful,” he says. “I thought, one day I’m going to have one of these for myself.” That day finally arrived at The Carlyle in a room cut off from the others and therefore immune to awkward color adjacencies. It was’nt easy. “It’s a strict color,” Kedigian admits. “If it’s too intensely red, it gets in the way. I wanted it to be uplifting and rejuvenating.” The final match was less crimson, more orange, and it took dozens of tries to get there. But this time he got it just right.
Featured in our May/June 2022 issue. Interior design by Garrow Kedigian; photography by Thomas Loof; Produced by Dayle Wood; Written by Sophie Donelson.