an airy bedroom in a penthouse by Meyer Davis
Pierre Paulin lounge chairs gather beneath an Ingo Mauer pendant in the main bedroom.

Meyer Davis Designs a Sprawling Manhattan Penthouse

2023 Best of Year Honoree for Large Apartment

A chance encounter started the ball rolling on the redesign of a full-floor penthouse atop one of New York’s most avant-garde structures. The glittering 56 Leonard in TriBeCa, completed in 2017 by Herzog & de Meuron, is often affectionately likened to a stack of Jenga blocks. The cantilevered upper floors make the 57-story building a standout on the downtown skyline and give its lucky residents uninterrupted 360-degree views.

“One weeknight, I was out having drinks with friends when a potential client happened to pop in,” recalls Will Meyer, principal of Meyer Davis. The men were acquainted but had not seen each other in years. “It was midnight, but he said, ‘I just bought this new apartment. Let’s go look at it.’” Up they went several dozen stories, emerging into a 5,500-square-foot aerie surrounded by 14-foot-tall windows. “Imagine coming out of the elevator and seeing these outrageous views. It was a white box with nothing going on but also the most amazing blank slate possible.”

Soon after, Meyer and fellow principal Gray Davis—jointly inducted last year into the Interior Design Hall of Fame—met with the homeowner to share their thoughts on making the vast residence more human-scale and inviting. “The client appreciates good design,” Davis says, “and loves music and hosting parties. But the apartment also had to feel comfortable when he’s there alone or with his kids.”

Meyer Davis Creates a Warm and Approachable Penthouse Design

the living room of an NYC penthouse apartment with views of the city
In a 5,500-square-foot New York penthouse apartment renovated by Meyer Davis, a raised oak platform furnished with beanbags covered in recycled sheep­skin and a custom shelving unit encircling an existing concrete column create one of three sitting groups that help temper the living area’s vast open plan.

“The client had a clear idea of how it should feel: warm and approachable,” says Meyer Davis associate Shannon Senyk, senior design lead on the project and at the firm. “The views were there, but the space itself was quite cold and austere. We needed to add layers through architectural finishes and soft, lush textures.” Conjuring welcome is a practiced skill for the firm, which places not only 60th on our 100 Giants list but also 24th among the Hospitality Giants.

Meyer Davis Transforms a Loftlike Layout into Functional Zones

The team devised a number of strategies to tame the open, loftlike layout, which is augmented by two terraces and a balcony totaling 1,600 square feet of outdoor real estate. “A super-large space should be zoned in subtle ways, making rooms without making walls,” Meyer observes. The designers arranged the furniture informally, with three separate seating groups in the main living area “so you can hop around and sit in different places,” as Davis puts it. Chief among the architectural upgrades—and there were many, including four-and-a-half renovated baths and an oak-and-marble kitchen beneath an existing statement stove hood—was a zoning gesture Meyer reports “made all the difference in the world”: a raised oak platform that spans about a quarter of the living area.

a teak console holds a planter in the entry way of an NYC penthouse apartment
In the entry, a Jenni Kayne leather vase sits on a burnt teak console by Andrianna Shamaris.

One prime corner of the platform, groovily furnished with furry beanbags on a nubby Moroccan rug, became “the spot people gravitate to,” Senyk notes, lured by its casual coziness. (The sunset views aren’t bad, either.) Nearby, a custom shelving unit lightly encircles a hefty concrete column. “It divides the space and adds function,” Meyer says of the freestanding structure, which incorporates a bar and a professional-level sound system that make the area emphatically party-ready. The column is one of a dozen that march rhythmically along the apartment’s outer walls. “The rules we set were all about letting the architecture be what it is,” Meyer continues. “We wanted a delicate piece of millwork that wrapped around the column but didn’t touch it, didn’t diminish its importance.”

Wherever Meyer Davis made interventions, it introduced sensuous, luxe materials and finishes. The partition separating the entry from the dining area was refinished in graphite-colored Venetian plaster and the existing gas fireplace in it reframed with blackened-steel panels. “We liked the hand-finished quality,” Senyk says. “It’s another layer,” and the dark massing is a striking contrast to the abundant light everywhere else. Closet doors at the entry were upholstered in leather. Pale cerused-oak wall panels turned one of the four bedrooms into a chill-out den that doubles as a guest room. And by installing the same paneling and a row of glowing pendant fixtures in the door-lined central hallway, a difficult space that Davis says “felt like a service corridor” is now experienced as an atmospheric passage terminating in thrilling city views.

Furnishings Reflect a Relaxed Luxury Aesthetic 

The furnishings—predominantly new or custom pieces with a couple of vintage items thrown into the mix—all contribute to Meyer Davis’s trademark relaxed luxury, providing deep comfort while hold­ing their own against the grandeur of the architecture and the glory of the setting. Modern classics like Pierre Paulin lounge chairs and Ingo Mauer pendant fixtures join such contemporary pieces as a BassamFellows daybed and a Kelly Wearstler desk, the ensemble arranged so as not to disturb the pervasive feeling of cloud-borne calm. At the same time, the designers were mindful of placing the furniture in a way that, Meyer notes, “enhances your ability to take it all in.” The overall palette is neutral but far from colorless, comprising mostly blues, grays, and browns. The rust color of the velvet upholstery on a sofa in the den is the boldest hue in the apartment. “We brought in colors from the city and the sky,” Meyer concludes, “so as not to compete with the main event.”

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Inside the Manhattan Penthouse With Expansive Views

the dining area of an NYC penthouse with a large sculptural stove hood
Beneath the kitchen’s original plaster hood, Hugo stools by William Gray, Meyer Davis’s furniture line, pull up to an island of cerused oak and marble, while David Regestam’s Viva chairs furnish the breakfast dining area.
the center hallway of an apartment with tubular sconces and hanging pendants
Oscar pendants by Roman and Williams and Tassel sconces by Apparatus illuminate the center hall.
a table holds the book Meyer Davis: Made to Measure, a 2014 monograph by Dan Shaw
Meyer Davis: Made to Measure, a 2014 monograph by Dan Shaw, rests on a living-area table.
a seating group in a living room made of gray sectionals
EÆ lounge chairs by Erickson Æsthetics face a Timothy Oulton Cloud sectional in the living area’s second seating group; matching custom pendant fixtures with linen shades tie it to the third grouping beyond.
a dining area in front of a fireplace wall clad in Venetian plaster and steel plates
Crown chairs by Masspro­ductions surround a custom oak table in the dining area, where the fireplace wall is clad in glossy Venetian plaster and blackened-steel plates.
a free standing tub in the bathroom of an NYC penthouse overlooking the city
Allied Maker’s Grand Aperture chandelier joins an existing tub in the main bathroom.
a bedroom in an apartment with an ombre blue wall
In a child’s bedroom, Damo table lamps by Chen, Chao-Cheng and Studio Dunn’s Sorenthia pendant fixture are back­dropped by a painted wall echoing the colors outside.
an orange velvet sectional across from a blue daybed
Under a silk-covered pendant by Ruemmler in the den, the niche’s custom daybed accommodates overnight guests while plush velvet upholsters the custom sectional.
a desk is viewed through the open door of the closet in a New York apartment
Viewed from the closet, a Kelly Wearstler desk occupies a prime window spot in the main bedroom.
the main bathroom of an NYC penthouse apartment with a custom dual vanity
The main bathroom’s vanity is custom.
the exterior of 56 Leonard, a tower in TriBeCa
The apartment tops 56 Leonard, a 57-story tower in TriBeCa by Herzog & de Meuron.
a bed with a custom leather headboard in an apartment by Meyer Davis
The bed is outfitted with a custom leather headboard backed by fabric-covered panels.
a powder room with a carved stone vanity
The powder room’s carved-stone vanity was existing but the Circuit sconce by Apparatus is new.
the terrace of an NYC penthouse designed by Meyer Davis
The terrace hosts a Paloma teak sectional by Mario Ruiz.
an airy bedroom in a penthouse by Meyer Davis
Pierre Paulin lounge chairs gather beneath an Ingo Mauer pendant in the main bedroom.
meyer davis: anastasia bersetova; lindsay leonard
daniel demarco & associates; premium millwork: woodwork
silverlining: general contractor
jg switzer: beanbags (platform)
contardi: floor lamp
mellah: rug
William Gray: stools (kit­chen)
troscan design: table
gärsnäs: armchairs
erickson æsthetics: lounge chairs (living area)
tibetano: rug
BassamFellows: day­bed
rh: sectionals (living area, terrace)
andrianna shamaris: black side table (living area), console (entry)
jenni kayne: vase (entry)
flos: pen­dant fixture
sacco: rugs (entry, main bedroom)
rw guild: pendant fixtures (hall)
apparatus: sconces (hall, powder room), pendant fixtures (dining area, closet)
armada new york: custom table (dining area)
massproductions: chairs
Allied Maker: pendant fixture (bathroom)
seed design: table lamps (bedroom)
studio dunn: pendant fixture
castel; pollack: daybed fabric, pillow fabrics (den)
Montauk: sectional
ruemmler: pendant fixture
brooklyn workroom: custom daybed (den), custom headboard, custom sofa (main bedroom)
mokum: sectional fab­ric (Den), curtain fabric
menu design shop: mirrors (closet, powder room)
phillip jeffries: wallcovering (closet, powder room)
Gubi: chairs (main bedroom)
blackcreek mercantile & trading co.: coffee table
Ingo Maurer: pendant fixture
perennials fabrics: wallcovering
c&m shade: curtains
benjamin moore & co.: paint

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