November 9, 2010.
Nothing says “If you lived here, you’d be home now” like a model apartment. But with a glut of new apartments gathering dust bunnies on the market, real estate developers are upping the ante on the marketing tool. At Manhattan House, the landmark Gordon Bunshaft 1950s complex that went luxury condo in 2008, the message might well be, “If you lived here, you’d of course have the good taste to hire an A-list decorator.” James Huniford is one of three interior designers who was handed the keys to an apartment, a generous budget and the directive to turn it into a place where potential buyers will walk in and say, “I’ll take it.” (Two others were designed by Rita Konig and Celerie Kemble).
Huniford’s signature look — quirky antiques and found objects mixed with elegant furniture that he designed or generously modified — is executed in a serene blue/gray palette and an uncluttered layout that plays up the nine-room apartment’s sprawling proportions. But when it came to the artwork, instead of going blue-chip to match, Huniford took some creative license and turned the spotlight onto Creative Growth, an organization in Oakland, Calif., that works with adult artists who have developmental, mental and physical disabilities.
Dan Miller’s dynamic, overdrawn word works hang in the living and dining rooms; a handful of his densely scribbled skateboard decks are installed in a hallway in a Donald Judd-like stack. Elsewhere are pieces by the sculptor Judith Scott, known for her objects wrapped in fabric and yarn, and by Aurie Ramirez, whose fantastical watercolors are inspired by things like 18th century dandyism and the rock band Kiss.
On Wednesday night, Huniford will host a cocktail party in the space, where guests will be able to learn more about Creative Growth and White Columns, the New York nonprofit alternative art space headed by Matthew Higgs — and to see just how great the apartment is for entertaining.