October 18, 2018

Janson Goldstein Infuses a Classic Upper East Side Apartment With Modern Sensibilities

Homeowners in New York City are obsessed with original architectural details. So seeing a design firm intentionally rip every last historical element out of an apartment located within a 100-year-old grande dame building on the Upper East Side is unusual, to say the least. “This neighborhood is typically crown moldings and oriental rugs, but that wasn’t what anyone involved in this project was interested in,” Janson Goldstein partner Mark Janson begins.

Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen chairs and an Eero Saarinen table stand on new stained walnut floor planks in the apartment’s renovated dining area. Photography by Scott Frances/Otto.

He’s speaking of his clients, a Boston-based couple who needed a pied-à-terre in Manhattan for business trips. They had a vested interest in this particular Park Avenue building because the husband’s mother lives there, too. Yet, as contemporary art collectors working in tech and finance, “They have a modern point of view,” Janson says. “They weren’t looking to live in a traditional interior from a century ago.” The pair came to him, through a mutual friend, knowing modernity is the stock-in-trade of Janson and copartner Hal Goldstein, and a dramatic transformation was to be expected.

Stools in the kitchen are by Shin and Tomoko Azumi. Photography by Scott Frances/Otto.

That transformation began with 1,600 square feet of dark, enclosed spaces. Janson Goldstein gutted and reconfigured them amplifying air and light. While the room count remains the same—two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, plus a study that converts to a third and a separate guest bathroom—nonessential walls were reconfigured or replaced by massive sliding doors, and the rest were sheathed in bright and airy white paint and pale oak. Windows were stripped of clunky frames, ceiling fixtures were used sparingly to avoid visual clutter, and the guest bathroom, a closet, and entry doors were camouflaged behind monolithic panels of rift-cut oak. Furnishings are equally streamlined, a mid-century modern and contemporary mix that includes pieces by Eero Saarinen, Yabu Pushelberg, Charles Pollock, and Marcel Wanders.

The result, Janson says, is “clean, clean, clean.” And his clients, he adds, don’t miss the old-school trappings one bit.

Recent Projects