Perched atop one of New York City’s tallest residential skyscrapers, this luxurious duplex is home to a remarkable contemporary art collection
Couple Kay Olivia and Ryan Jackson recall being seduced by the sight of the Robert AM Stern Architects 82-storey skyscraper. They swiftly scooped up a 555sqm, three-bedroom duplex that occupies the 78th and 79th floors, and moved in with their two young sons. The exterior of the tower located in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan) echoes a classic New York façade with its precast concrete panels that look like limestone, and metal screens that bring a contemporary update to the traditional design. Meanwhile, bay windows allow for ample daylight and stunning views. What’s inside is somehow even more impressive, starting with the 360-degree panorama of the New York City skyline, including the Hudson and East rivers, and the Statue of Liberty. “One day, during a frequent gallery walkthrough, Kay Olivia and Ryan told me they had found their dream apartment and wanted me to see it to start conceptualizing the spaces and get a sense of the floor plan and flow,” remembers New York City-based, Spain-born Barbara Cartategui, at the helm of Barbara Cartategui Art Advisory. “They had a clear vision, and the project involved a full renovation and interior design led by Workshop/APD.” For Kay Olivia, relying on Cartategui’s expertise for the art was natural. “We went to Parsons School of Design in New York together and were close friends during our time in college,” Kay Olivia explains. “So, as soon as Ryan and I started to collect art for our homes, we hired Barbara.”
This project started from scratch. “It was truly an artistic process commencing with a blank canvas of the apartment and choosing every piece to fit in each location perfectly,” says Kay Olivia. “This gave me a chance to collaborate with the interior designers and create a very special synergy between all the elements like lighting, furniture, and wall finishing,” adds Cartategui. “In this home, the entire collection is extremely balanced and dialogues with its surroundings. The art is completely integrated with the space and environment, and that is something very challenging to achieve.”
As part of the brief, former fashion stylist Kay Olivia and Jackson, who works in real estate, wanted to focus on living artists and whenever possible, buy directly from their galleries. “My role here was to take the clients to art fairs, galleries, and artist studios to see diverse options, as well as to present market analysis and reports to guide Kay Olivia and Ryan [in] the pricing and investment on each artwork.” Combining museum-quality pieces by established and emerging artists, including many women – such as Angela de la Cruz, Tracey Emin, and Rania Schoretsaniti – the collection also features commissions by Alberto Gil Casedas, Sergio Gomez, and Manolo Ballesteros, among others. “We needed to find potential artworks that would have enough strength to stand up against the interiors while remaining minimal, subtle, and cohesive to the overall theme of the design,” says Cartategui.
The first work to adorn the duplex, the white wall sculpture on top of the fireplace by Greek artist Schoretsaniti, took over two days to be installed due to the intricacy in positioning each piece. Finding the ideal sculpture by Jaume Plensa for the staircase was a challenge, too, as it needed to be spectacular yet livable. “It is really fun that we can see a massive piece by this Spanish artist installed across the Hudson River directly from the apartment,” smiles Kay Olivia. “We didn’t realize that was the case until after we settled in our home.” In the spaces, the team of Workshop/APD introduced soft curves, luxurious plaster finishes, and a bright, harmonious material palette with neutral tones, complemented by warmer hues. “For the interior design, the volume, and views of the home are extraordinary and we did not want to detract from these innate characteristics,” says Kay Olivia. “We wanted to merge our minimalist desires with the gritty yet timeless elegance that we love about New York.”
“These collectors are more inclined to a monochromatic aesthetic and therefore all works had to revolve around those guidelines but be singular enough to add something to the atmosphere,” Cartategui says. The couple took a chance with color when they purchased the first piece for their home: a yellow artwork by Johnny Abrahams. “We knew instantly when we saw each piece – after going through thousands of works – that we were in love with it for our home,” says Kay Olivia. “We created a story around the work and the design and why together they made perfect sense.” For Cartategui, too, it was key to ensure every element visually spoke with the others. “I believe art is energy and we feed off that which surrounds us. I wanted to create a sacred space filled with beauty and harmony. The art selection helps you isolate from the real world and transports you to a meditative state of mind. It gives you inner peace.”
Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Vogue Living Arabia