October 30, 2018

Water Motifs Abound in Harry Heissmann’s Master Suite for a NYC Town House

“They asked me for glamour,” Harry Heissmann says, “and I ran with it.” His namesake firm turned the entire second level of a Greenwich Village town house into a master suite. The three-room enfilade totals 1,200 square feet, a lavish single space when pocket doors slide away.

Onyx for the shower walls and floor derives a blue tone from resin backing. Photography by Eric Laignel.

First up: the dressing room, boasting a Finnish mid-century chandelier and, instead of a vanity table, a limited-edition plywood desk by Jasper Morrison. The sidewalls are actually closet doors, glass panels covered in a giant circle motif rendered in glittering mica, gold leaf, and polychrome paint—call them verre églomisé. To sketch the patterns, Heissmann grabbed a fistful of felt-tip pens and sheets of Mylar.

Pocket doors can close off the bedroom from the vanity area. Photography by Eric Laignel.

Concentric circles reappear in the bathroom. “They’re like water hitting water,” he explains. Here, on panels fronting the shower and toilet, the circles take the more muted form of frosted glass detailed by a practitioner of the rare art of wheel-cutting. “I remember him with sandpaper, going like this,” Heissmann says, waving his hand back and forth to demonstrate. Other surfaces resemble a vast watercolor: They’re highly figured beige onyx that owes its cornflower-blue undertone to resin backing. In the bedroom, walls are Venetian plaster raked with a trowel into vertical grooves. Ceramic lamps that Heissmann designed with Christopher Spitzmiller flank the bed. Carpet, as in the dressing room at the opposite end of the enfilade, sports a spotted pattern developed for Brooke Astor, who kept a miniature donkey indoors and, Heissmann notes, “didn’t want the marks to show.” (He used to work for Astor’s decorator, Albert Hadley.)

In the dressing room, the closets’ custom sliding doors are tempered glass gilded and painted on the reverse. Photography by Eric Laignel.

The town house’s owners are repeat clients introduced to Heissmann when he worked for Hadley. After 20 meetings for the master suite, the couple are practically family. To wit, they even bought a fuzzy bed for Heissmann’s French bulldog mix, Samson, to use whenever he drops by.

Product Resources: Puccio Marble & Onyx: Stone Supplier. Tirschwell & Co.: Lighting Consultant. Miriam Ellner; Tomas Tisch Studio: Glasswork. Artgroove: Plasterwork. Edward Fields Carpet Makers: Custom Carpet.

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