Sasha Bikoff Decorates the AD Apartment at the Architectural Digest Design Show
"Have you ever seen that movie Uptown Girls?" New York–based designer (and AD 2018 New Creative) Sasha Bikoff asked me a few weeks ago over the phone. She's talking about the 2003 flick starring a carefree Brittany Murphy as Molly Gunn, the cool, rockstar’s-daughter babysitter to one very uptight Upper East Sider: eight-year-old Ray Schleine (Dakota Fanning). Yes, I'd seen it.
"That was kind of my inspiration,” Bikoff continues. “She lived in that crazy apartment downtown that was, like, this rock-and-roll harem-y den with all this fabric on the walls. It was kind of bohemian and wild and she had a pet pig that ran around."
This is the fanciful jumping-off-point for Bikoff's latest project—the AD Apartment, a fixture of the Architectural Digest Design Show (ADDS), which opens to the public on March 21. And if it seems an unlikely fit for a trade show, well, that's the point. Bikoff—who shocked Kips Bay Showhouse visitors last spring with her psychedelic staircase wrapped in Memphis-inspired Voutsa wallpaper and eye-popping carpets—is a pro when it comes to shaking the dust off a design-world institution. And her fun riff on the trade show "apartment" has the same smack-you-in-the-face freshness. Her goal? "To give it a soul. Like someone is actually living in there."
Her concept, of course—an uptown girl living in a downtown world—is one she can relate to.
"She’s from the Upper East Side, she’s well traveled, she loves vintage, she comes from this classically trained place. But she lives downtown and has this modern edge about her too," Bikoff explains of her imagined client, quick to point out, with a laugh, "Maybe it describes me a little bit." Bikoff, after all, grew up on Manhattan's East 87th Street and now lives downtown in Greenwich Village. Still, it's a construct that serves a design purpose: It lends a certain logic to mixing furniture and decor from a pretty disparate list of manufacturers.
"It’s almost like working with a client’s needs," she explains of the design process wherein a decorator is asked to appoint a space using product sponsors from the ADDS exhibitors roster. “It’s a similar challenge. But the way we design these days is eclectic. People are mixing a lot of things together. And when you hire a designer, you’re paying them to achieve that mix."
For the AD Apartment, that mix started with the kitchen, which she clad in cabinets by ADDS exhibitor Reform, a Danish company that makes stylish fronts for basic cabinetry.
"They do this brass, pink, and gray kitchen that is pretty awesome," says Bikoff, who explains that "the kitchen really creates this balance within the space and helps all these elements work together." They have a modern look, but the palette—particularly that hint of brass—balanced out the apartment's more decorative touches.
From there she created an open floor plan. The kitchen (outfitted in appliances by presenting sponsor Gaggenau, surfaces from Dekton by Cosentino, fittings from Brizo, and tableware from Lenox), is front center, the bedroom on the left, and the living room on the right. The living and bedrooms got a hit of old-world glamour with chandeliers from Livex, who provided hanging lighting for the whole place. "I wanted it to feel like a downtown loft. I didn't want to create walls and block certain areas." She clad the floors in hardwood from Lumber Liquidators and, for a touch of edge, created a slight delineation between rooms using brass-plated chain curtains by ShimmerScreen.
Next step: the wallpaper. Between a tiger stripe in the living room and a watercolor-like feather motif in the bedroom—all sourced from sponsor Mayflower Wallpaper—she established a pattern medley that could accommodate an array of furnishings.
"Nothing here is monochromatic," she explains. And to bring that same eclecticism to the furnishings, she mixed sleek modern forms from Italian brand Calligaris with a Charlotte Perriand–esque bookcase fabricated by Reform, and a cache of her own stuff. Among her own contributions are two French tufted chairs in a floral fabric for the living room, a 1980s Memphis desk in front of the bed, two Lucite Charles Hollis Jones chairs redone in Pucci silk, vintage boudoir lamps, and a gilt Italian mirror from the 1950s. For the floors, she brought in the white-and-gold rug from her recent Disco Dots collection and an antique Chinese rug that she dyed in groovy turquoise, red, pink, and purple. To get a sense of her process, just check out the watercolors—realized by Clementine Studio by Carly Martin—plastered across the outside walls of the apartment.
For the finishing touch, Bikoff worked with Supreme Furniture Services to devise a dreamy canopy bed that, just like Murphy's, is draped in billowing sheer fabric. Only this one is outfitted with a mattress, pillows, and bedding by Tuft & Needle and, naturally, sits next to a Gaggenau wine fridge, dry bar (with hardware from Emtek), and 24-karat-gold Dyson blow dryer.
The only thing missing from Bikoff's Uptown Girls fantasy? She pauses to think. "I should have added a little pig."
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