an in-ground pool surrounded by porcelain pavers at this home
Porcelain pavers surround the pool while a standing-seam zinc roof caps the 8,000-square-foot house.

Inside Look: Dune CEO’s Southampton Home by Sawyer|Berson

Over the past few decades, the New York architecture firm Sawyer|Berson has designed a bevy of houses in the Hamptons. Admired for their stylistic versatility, founding partners Brian Sawyer and John Berson have masterminded everything from stately Colonial Revival residences to bold, contemporary compounds. But never before had the studio worked on a home quite like the one proposed by Richard Shemtov for a wooded single-acre property in Southampton.

Shemtov, the CEO and founder of furniture company Dune, was looking to build a weekend retreat to share with his wife, Dominique, and their three daughters, who range in age from 14 to 26. He envisioned something modestly scaled, modeled after traditional gable-roof barns but in a rigorously pared-down style. Key inspirations were Herzog & de Meuron’s Parrish Art Museum in nearby Water Mill and the Baron House in Sweden by John Pawson.

“It wasn’t our typical commission,” says Sawyer, who has known and worked with Shemtov for years. “It was an exercise in discipline, really, a fun puzzle to work out. We could fit a certain amount of program in the box.” Adds Berson, “As it turned out, that was a deceptively simple idea, to coordinate the plan and section and make the entire composition sing.”

A Southampton Home Three Years in the Making

a lounge area inside the home of Dune CEO Richard Shemtov designed by Sawyer|Benson
With architecture and landscaping by Sawyer | Berson, the lower-level lounge in the Southampton, New York, home of Richard and Dominique Shemtov and family is outfitted with a Delta sectional, Toiny swivel chairs, a Jardin cocktail table, and a Torque side table, all from Shemtov’s furniture company, Dune. He also designed the home’s interiors.

To create a crisp silhouette, Sawyer and Berson sunk one of the structure’s two main levels entirely below-grade and devised the standing-seam roof, a weathered-gray zinc, so that it is flush with the perimeter edges and has hidden gutters. Expanses of 10-foot-high, black-painted aluminum–framed glass—most of which slide open—line much of the front and rear facades, while the rest of the exterior is clad in a distinctive recycled-glass brick.

The house’s ground floor encompasses an open living/dining area, the kitchen, and four bedrooms. The loftlike basement level—housing several entertaining areas, Shemtov’s home office, a laundry room, a gym, and a kitchenette—is completely column-free, which added significantly to the engineering complexity of the project. The house also expanded a bit as plans developed: A custom-fabricated carport was tacked on and room was carved out below the eaves to create a half level, a cozy attic den that can double as a guest bedroom. “It’s the house we wanted,” Shemtov says. “But we went way over budget and it took nearly three years to build.”

Interiors are by Homeowner Richard Shemtov

A big chunk of that time was devoted to fitting out the 8,000-square-foot interiors. It’s not uncommon for Sawyer|Berson to handle every aspect of a project—architecture, interiors, landscape—as can be seen in the duo’s forthcoming monograph, to be published by Rizzoli this fall in advance of the firm’s 25th anniversary. But in this case Shemtov oversaw the interiors himself, his first time designing a project of this scale. “Every inch of the house was considered and thought out, almost to the point where it was obsessive,” he admits.

Architectural detailing was kept to a minimum—just simple baseboard trim and crisp custom millwork in select spots. In the double-height living area, Shemtov devised a striking fireplace surround in richly grained wenge and, opposite, built-in bookshelves with a hand-glazed faux-linen finish, their back panels lined with mirror or hair-on hide to add layers of texture. On the ground level, 8-inch-wide pine floor planks were treated using a wire-brushed effect and then treated to a milky glaze. “You walk barefoot on it and it feels like a massage,” Shemtov enthuses.

All built-ins and seating and most of the tables were made by Dune, which employs some 60 full-time furniture makers at its New Jersey facility. Shemtov used a mix of Dune Collection pieces and original designs—some of which have since been added to the line, like the living area’s amoeba-shape ottoman/table, upholstered in harlequin-pattern panels of coral leather, and the dining area’s Donald Judd–inspired teal-aluminum sideboard. Downstairs, which offers billiards, ping-pong, Pac-Man, and pinball, two separate seating areas are anchored by exuberant Dune sectionals, one covered in a rusty-hued chenille and the other, a channel-tufted circular model inspired by Pierre Paulin, in a lemony suede.

a 21 feet tall vaulted ceiling in the home of Dune's CEO designed by Sawyer|Benson
The vaulted ceiling rises to 21 feet.

A Courtyard Garden by Sawyer|Berson Brightens the Lower Level

The art is mostly things the homeowners have collected over years, works by friends or that have a personal resonance. One new acquisition is the Bernardo Siciliano painting of a restaurant interior that hangs in the dining area. The scene felt distinctly familiar to Shemtov, who learned after he bought it that the artist had based it on Lincoln, a restaurant in Lincoln Center where Dune created a custom banquette.

To bring light down into the lower level, Sawyer|Berson, which oversaw landscaping, created a courtyard garden with a series of amphitheater-style concrete terraces that are arrayed with a profusion of potted plants. “I originally saw it as a kind of hanging garden with things tumbling down,” says Sawyer. “Richard came up with the idea of lining it with pots, which I think is fun and punchy.”

The focal point of the rear grounds is a minimalist swimming pool, surrounded by porcelain-tile coping and a sweep of precisely graded lawn. There’s an outdoor kitchen and a poolside dining pergola, as well as a covered terrace that’s become one of the family’s favorite hangout spots. Shemtov imagines spending weekends and summers here with the girls—and, eventually, their families—for many years to come. “Labor of love is a commonly used term,” he says, “but with this house, it resonates a lot.”

Inside a Southampton Home by Sawyer|Berson 

a bronze-tube console topped with a sculpture
In the foyer, a Michel Gribinski oil and a Paula Hayes sculpture accent Geo, a textured bronze–tube console that was a Dune prototype and is now available as a commission-only piece.
a living area with a sectional and accent chairs with a glass wall with views of trees
In the living area, a Brian Schmitt chandelier overlooks Dune’s DaBomb sectional and Cloud swivel chairs, a pair of Rick Owens antler side tables, and a hand-carved sycamore cocktail table by Caleb Woodard.
a built-in oak banquette in the mudroom of this home includes an Anna Navasardian painting
The colorway of Romo’s Kuba Cay pattern covering the mudroom’s built-in oak banquette coordinates with an Anna Navasardian painting.
an open concept kitchen with custom oak cabinetry
Custom oak cabinetry surrounds much of the kitchen, with Corian countertops, Piet Boon stools, and tractor headlight–inspired Outsider pendants by Jacco Maris.
a dining room surrounded by glass walls looks over a pool at this home
Dune’s Rhapsody table, Dash chairs, and Mason sideboard gather beneath an Anna Karlin pendant fixture in the dining area.
Dune's Stellar chair and ottoman face the bed in the primary bedroom
In the main bedroom, Dune’s Stellar chair and ottoman face the custom walnut-based bed and nightstands integrated into a linen-upholstered wall; the drapery fabric is Kelly Wearstler’s Grafitto.
butterfly kaleidoscope wallpaper accents a wall next to a built-in bed in this girls bedroom
Damien Hirst’s Butterfly Kaleidoscope wallpaper and a Samantha Gallacher rug animate the built-in bed and storage in a daughter’s room.
an electric guitar hangs on the wall of this girl's bedroom with a Lindsay Cowles wallcovering behind it
A Lindsay Cowles wallcovering enlivens another daughter’s bedroom, with a Patty bench by Lievore Altherr Molina and Dune’s Monolith desk.
a gold-tinted stainless steel wardrobe's doors are covered in lacquered rings
Beyond Dune’s Float bench in the guest bedroom, the console and the gold-tinted stainless-steel wardrobe doors with lacquered rings are custom.
an in-ground pool surrounded by porcelain pavers at this home
Porcelain pavers surround the pool while a standing-seam zinc roof caps the 8,000-square-foot house.
the exterior of a home designed by Sawyer|Benson that is built of recycled-glass brick
The house is built of recycled-glass brick.
a mint-green pergola
The pergola’s mint-green color is custom.
freestanding partitions separate a game table
Free­standing Modernica screens partition the lower level’s custom game table and chairs, joined by Bertjan Pot’s Non Random pendant and a Liz Collins wall work.
dark marble tile lines the walls of the main bathroom in this home
Variegated marble tile lines the main bathroom.
a cowhide rug in front of a red sofa in a lounge area of this home
Also on the lower level, a hair-on cowhide rug anchors a sitting area composed of Dune’s Yaz sofa and Peanut coffee table.
the attic den of the Dune CEO's home with sectional and ottomans
Built-in beds double as lounging spots in the attic den, where Dune’s Faux cork-patterned wallpaper, Turbo sectional, and Bump ottoman flank the custom oak TV cabinet.
sawyer|berson: alex taylor wilk
blue sky design: structural engineer
bk kuck construction: general contractor
toulemonde bochart: rug (lounge)
normann copenhagen: small side table
romo: chair fabric (lounge), drapery sheers (living area, dining area), banquette fabric (mudroom), bench fabric, window-treatment fabric (guest bedroom), settee fabric (main bedroom)
anna karlin: pendant fixture (dining area)
élitis: chair fabric
crosby street studios: rugs (dining area, guest bedroom)
schmitt design: chandelier (living area)
pollack: sectional fabric
kerry joyce: chair fabric
through jeff lincoln art & design: cocktail table, side tables
Ortal: fireplace
foro marble: fireplace stone
stone source: floor tile (mudroom)
renson: custom carport, custom pergola (exterior)
damien hirst: wallpaper (bedroom)
art + loom: rug
Knoll Textiles: wall fabric
robert allen: headboard fabric
brinklicht: pendant fix­tures (kitchen)
corian: countertops
piet boon: stools
wolf: oven
California Faucets: sink fittings
through lee jofa: drapery fabric (main bedroom)
c & c milano: bed fabric
céline wright: pendant fixture
beadlight: sconces
jab: chair fabric, ottoman fabric (main bedroom), chair fabric (game area)
mgs milano: outdoor shower (guest bedroom)
pelican pools: pool (terrace)
ceramiche refin: pavers
lindsay cowles: wallpaper (bedroom)
paul smith: lamp
loro piana: chair fabric
verzelloni: bench
jane churchill: bench fabric
modernica: screens (game area)
Moooi: pendant fixture
salvatori: wall tile (bathroom)
concrete collaborative: countertop stone
ann sacks: floor tile
brizo: sink fittings
&tradition: lamp (den)
fleetwood windows & doors: windows, exterior doors
rheinzink: roof
harbour outdoor: outdoor furniture
Stonhard: resin floor coating
benjamin moore & co.: paint

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