André Fu Designs His First Apartment in the US

The model residence is part of Jean Nouvel’s 53 West 53 and features pieces from the designer’s new lifestyle brand


Jean Nouvel’s recently completed residential tower in Manhattan is recognisable both for its slender pyramidal form — the building rises to more than 300 metres next to the Museum of Modern Art and tapers gradually — and for an exposed structural system that crisscrosses the facade in an asymmetrical pattern the architect calls a ‘diagrid’.

A look inside Hong Kong designer André Fu’s plush 36th floor model residence reveals that the diagrid also imposes heavily on the building interiors: thick beams cut across the apartment’s floor-to-ceiling windows creating angular views of the cityscape. Fu’s design approach embraces the project’s unusual geometry. ‘I wanted to showcase that there are interesting whimsical twists that you can introduce to turn the diagrid into a design element within the apartment,’ he explains. Next to the kitchen Fu built a custom Carrara marble counter that interlocks with the diagonal beam, a strategy that recurs in the master bedroom where a marble counter crosses the diagrid to create a small desk. 

To offset the building’s predominant rectilinearity, Fu introduced organic shapes into living areas. In the dining area he placed a round six-seater table, and in the corner living room, which includes ivory sofas and interlock tables from the Andre Fu Living collection, he placed a sculptural screen in high gloss piano lacquer that references the curvilinear silhouette of the city skyline. ‘The architecture is very geometric,’ Fu says, ‘so we brought in some curvature to play off the surroundings and accentuate it.’

Fu’s palette of stained grey oak and anodised bronze, highlighted with subtle accents of dusty burgundy and mineral blue, also serves as a counterpoint to Midtown’s grid of steel and glass and creates an overall sense of warmth and calm. He also teamed up with long time collaborator and gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin to curate artwork for the two-bedroom residence, including three serene paintings by Korean artist Park Seo-Bo.

‘Obviously the building has that Thierry Despont, very New York look to it,’ Fu says, referring to French-born architect and designer who used oak, bronze and touches of gold leaf in the building’s lavish lobby, and who also designed the sleek marble kitchens and baths. ‘I think the client came to me because he wanted to showcase a slightly different aesthetic.’

Fu estimates that roughly half of the furniture and accessories in the almost 200-square-metre apartment are from his new lifestyle collection, which he launched at Salone del Mobile in Milan earlier this year, and which is now debuting in the US. Other accent pieces, like the LED lamp rendered in rippling glass that glows over the dining table, were custom designed for the space.

Scaling his new collection to a full-blown luxury Manhattan apartment — his first project in the Americas — has been an interesting journey, Fu says. ‘Whether some of these new items will be available in the future is subject to response and to our feeling, but we’re quite open to the idea.’

Text / Sophie Kalkreuth
Images / Stephen Kent Johnson