Interior Design

A HALF-CENTURY LATER—AND RUDOLPH IS STILL AVANT GARDE

Underground Interiors, published in 1972, showcased some of the world’s most unique, quirky, and creative new interior designs—tangible manifestations of that experimental late 60’s/early 70’s era. A work of Rudolph’s was included—of course!.

Underground Interiors, published in 1972, showcased some of the world’s most unique, quirky, and creative new interior designs—tangible manifestations of that experimental late 60’s/early 70’s era. A work of Rudolph’s was included—of course!.

UNDERGROUND—AND FAMOUS

We sometimes speak of Underground Culture: productions by independent makers, groups, and communities, which were created apart from the mainstream—and often in pointed challenge to it. The most well-known application of the term underground is in “Underground films”—like the kind originally associated with Andy Warhol and other independent filmmakers. Calling them “underground” allegedly came about because of where such films were first screened: literally, in basements—though the association of “underground” with secrecy and daring (and even Dostoevsky) may have given them some cachet.

Poster advertising several underground films, featuring one by Andy Warhol’s, for a showing in 1967. Poster courtesy of the    Underground Film Journal   .

Poster advertising several underground films, featuring one by Andy Warhol’s, for a showing in 1967. Poster courtesy of the Underground Film Journal.

The use of the term spread, and—while it certainly had a political face—”underground” was applied to all kinds of new and experimental things happening in the 60’s and 70’s:

  • Underground Press

  • Underground Music

  • Underground Comics (of which Robert Crumb is the most famous practitioner)

  • Underground Clubs

  • And even a popular guide to offbeat restaurants, The Underground Gourmet

An example of “underground” culture extending into wider use: the great designers, Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, had a column in New York Magazine about restaurants that were out of the mainstream. Their recommendations were collected into a book, which used the zesty graphic style which they had pioneered. Image: Design of the book: by Glaser and Snyder

An example of “underground” culture extending into wider use: the great designers, Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, had a column in New York Magazine about restaurants that were out of the mainstream. Their recommendations were collected into a book, which used the zesty graphic style which they had pioneered. Image: Design of the book: by Glaser and Snyder

Even if you were labeled “underground”, that didn’t mean you couldn’t become famous—and Warhol, Pink Floyd, and Crumb are probably the most recognized example of that. Today marketers speak of an “underground brand” —and it’s a useful association (especially when promoting to the mainstream) to connect ones product with, in Ian Volmer’s superb phrase, “a soupçon of subversion.”

 UNDERGROUND DESIGN?

If films, music,media, and even restaurants could be “underground”, then why not design too?

By the mid-60’s, a spirit of cultural rebellion and lifestyle adventurousness was sprouting in every domain—and in just a few years designs with “experimental” color, layout, materials, and function were beginning to appear in design magazines. Ultimately, this included architecture—but buildings are expensive and clients are, on-the-whole, conservative. So this explosion of colorful creativity first manifest in interiors: after all, they’re more personal, temporary, and (compared to whole buildings) lower-budget—and thus more likely to be the sites, at least initially, for adventurous design.

A collection of these interiors was brought together for a 1972 book, Underground Interiors: Decorating For Alternative Lifestyles. It showed some of the most exciting designs to date, and the book was published by The New York Times.

The book’s writer-editor was Norma Skurka, Home Editor of the New York Times. The photographer, Oberto Gili, has a distinguished career taking photos of a great range of subjects—including interiors.

The book’s writer-editor was Norma Skurka, Home Editor of the New York Times. The photographer, Oberto Gili, has a distinguished career taking photos of a great range of subjects—including interiors.

Oberto Gili—still an active photographer, with a creative portfolio—started the book project for the publisher L’Esperto. When they dropped the venture, it was picked-up by the New York Times’ long-time Home Editor (and prolific author) —who no doubt (having also worked for House Beautiful, Interior Design, and Contract magazines,) was aware of the most exciting interiors then being done—and together they completed the book.

 SURREALIST, RADICAL, POP, SPACE AGE…

Those are not our descriptions of the work they included in the book—they were the author’s, appearing unabashed on their contents page. While some of the designers and artistic personalities they included have fallen into obscurity, a number of them were already gaining prominence.

Before he achieved ultra-stardom in the world of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld was already making fascinating juxtapositions, as in his own apartment:

A spread from the book, showing Karl Lagerfeld’s combination bath-sitting room, and gym-bedroom, for his Paris apartment.

A spread from the book, showing Karl Lagerfeld’s combination bath-sitting room, and gym-bedroom, for his Paris apartment.

Dream, parade, or baking contest?—this Paris home offered them all at once:

A spread showing the Paris home of Antony and Dorothee Miralda offers treats that are visual (and possibly edible)

A spread showing the Paris home of Antony and Dorothee Miralda offers treats that are visual (and possibly edible)

The book came out at in the midst of the US space program’s most active period—and some interiors embodied that futuristic flavor:

A spread from the “Space Age Habitations” section of the book, showing the home Victor Lukens designed for himself.

A spread from the “Space Age Habitations” section of the book, showing the home Victor Lukens designed for himself.

One of the most influential designers included in the book was Gamal El-Zoghby. “Minimalism” does not do justice to the careful thought and planning he brought to each project. His modulated spaces, carpet-covered platforms, deftly-detailed built-ins, and hidden storage (designed to lower the distractions of everyday life) inspired a generation of designers—and helped create the vocabulary for multi-level living spaces.

A page from the book showing an El-Zoghby design: a NY apartment for entertainer Jackie Mason.

A page from the book showing an El-Zoghby design: a NY apartment for entertainer Jackie Mason.

RUDOLPH: AVANT GARDE AND TIMELESS ?

Paul Rudolph, most known for his muscular buildings, was also focused on interiors. He used his own home and office spaces as laboratories, trying out different spatial arrangements, lighting techniques, materials, and details—and, if pleased by the results of those experiments, he’s apply some of those lessons to the work he did for clients. [This was the subject of the Rudolph centennial exhibit, Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory] Rudolph had a significant number of commissions for interior design, most often residential, but sometimes commercial (including an innovative dental office!)

In Rudolph’s design for a home of Mr. & Mrs. Elman in Manhattan, the walls remained unchanged—but he was able to shape the existing spaces through the placement of hanging light fixtures (of his own design) on an unexpectedly low plane, textures that flowed from floors to furnishings, and the creation of a living room that partakes more of landscaping than of traditional notions of room design.

Rudolph’s shows up too: a page in the Underground Interiors book.

Rudolph’s shows up too: a page in the Underground Interiors book.

Here’s the book’s caption, with what the author’s had to say about Rudolph’s interior:

Rudolph capton.JPG

Many of the rooms in the book (a sample of which we’ve shown above) are amusing, but also like they’re “of their time” [and maybe a bit too much so?] If “timelessness” is one of the criteria for good design, It’s hard to imagine—with some exceptions, like El-Zoghby—later designers choosing to create them.

What about Rudolph’s design?

It is nearly 50 years since he received the commission. Yes, back then, it was an era identified with “shag carpets”—and we all make fun of that. So if Rudolph were doing this interior today, he might dial-back the woolly-mammoth textures a bit.

But—

But the room still looks striking, enticing, fun—and quite livable and flexible: a place one would like to visit and hang-out. A place that could accommodate a large party, yet maintains a sense of intimacy. A place to unwind—and a place to be theatrical. A place to shock—and a place to relax. We contend that Rudolph’s design, overall, holds-up rather well, even a half-century after its conception—another sign of a master.

PAUL RUDOLPH’S OWN HOME - HIS FAMOUS “QUADRUPLEX”: THE BEST COVERAGE

The cover of FDR: FLORIDA DESIGN REVIEW, showing the living room of Paul Rudolph’s multi-level apartment in New York City. That issue’s coverage was the most comprehensive (and best photographed) article to ever appear about this most personal of Rudolph’s architectural works. The magazine is now out-of-print, but copies are available through the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s    “Shop”    page.

The cover of FDR: FLORIDA DESIGN REVIEW, showing the living room of Paul Rudolph’s multi-level apartment in New York City. That issue’s coverage was the most comprehensive (and best photographed) article to ever appear about this most personal of Rudolph’s architectural works. The magazine is now out-of-print, but copies are available through the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s “Shop” page.

FDR: FLORIDA DESIGN REVIEW was a magazine devoted to architecture, interior design, and the allied arts. Its large format and high-quality photography allowed readers to have a rich and immersive experience of the buildings and spaces upon which they focused.

The magazine didn’t just look at design in Florida. They showed projects in a variety of locations—and in their issue number two (2007), they featured Paul Rudolph’s own home in New York City.

We’re frequently asked about Rudolph’s famous apartment—a design which he experimented with and refined and revised over many years. It contained some of his most spectacular residential spaces, and was certainly his most “personal” project.  It was a “quadruplex”—a magnificent four-story penthouse apartment, facing New York City’s East River. He used it as a “laboratory” for exploring ways to shape space and create dynamic experiences.

While Rudolph’s apartment was widely published, that issue of Florida Design Review is important, because it has an 18 page article on the quadruplex: the most comprehensive coverage ever published of this richly conceived & fascinating residence.

The author, Richard Geary, is himself a distinguished designer. The photographs in the article (often printed full-page) are by Ed Chappell. Also included in the article is a design sketch by Rudolph, as well as two of his famous section-perspective drawings of this multi-level apartment.

The bad news is that Florida Design Review is now out-of-print, and copies can be hard to find. But—

But the good news is that the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has a number of copies of this issue available. It can be purchased through the PRHF’s website, on our “Shop” page (along with a number of other interesting Paul Rudolph publications and items.)

1968: AN AMAZING YEAR (INCLUDING FOR RUDOLPH)

“Earthrise”—probably the most famous photograph to come out of the space program. The photo was taken in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission—the first time a manned ship had gone to the moon-and-back. Photo by US astronaut William Anders

“Earthrise”—probably the most famous photograph to come out of the space program. The photo was taken in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission—the first time a manned ship had gone to the moon-and-back. Photo by US astronaut William Anders

THE BIG CHURN

1968 was an amazing year for the US—and the world. A year of firsts, a year of adventure, turbulence, war, creativity, and great sadness. A few examples of what it encompassed:

  • Apollo 8: first manned trip to the moon-and-back

  • First successful heart transplant

  • My Lai massacre in Vietnam

  • Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia

  • Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy both assassinated.

  • Big Mac goes on sale nationwide

  • Founding of Intel corporation

  • Premiers of films Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary’s Baby, and Planet of the Apes

  • North Vietnam launches Tet Offensive

  • 911 emergency phone service is initiated

  • Talking Barbie doll introduced

  • Massive student protests on campuses in the US and worldwide

  • London Bridge is sold to the US

  • Installation of first ATM machine in America

  • Chicago Democratic Convention protesters are met with violent police response—which is broadcast nationwide

  • Boeing introduces first jumbo jet

  • the musical Hair opens

 The cultural & domestic scenes were churning as well—wildly!—with pervasive questioning of the establishment in every domain, and extensive exploration of alternatives in lifestyle choices, religion, relationships, health, child-rearing, career, and education.

 The arts—painting, sculpture, dance, film, writing, curation—were especially affected. Nor did design escape, as fashion, display, advertising, graphics, architecture, and interiors saw their share of colorful and untamed experimentation.

MAINSTREAMING THE FAR-OUT

 While the mainstream architecture magazines kept publishing conventional work—plenty of International Style boxes filled their pages, and would do so for years to come!—the magazines also began to do articles on novel ideas and departures in design.

Cover of Progressive Architecture’s October 1968 issue, which dealt with the new adventures in interiors. Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library

Cover of Progressive Architecture’s October 1968 issue, which dealt with the new adventures in interiors. Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library

The October 1968 issue of Progressive Architecture was entirely devoted to looking at this strange new phenomena (as manifest in interiors)—and is a perfect example of the professional journals attempting to grapple with the wild things that were happening in design. The issue was titled:

THE REVOLUTION IN INTERIOR DESIGN: THE BOLD NEW POLY-EXPANDED MEGA DECORATION

 But, as though the editors couldn’t quite believe their eyes (or the sincere intent of the what they called “deviationist” designers), they kicked-off the issue with a meditative editorial asking:

“Is the work presented in this issue “serious”?

What followed were a series of article (each accompanied by a rich selection of designs) with provocative titles like:

  • Chaos As A System

  • Fun-House Architecture

  • The Synthetic Environment

  • Hard-Edge Interiors

  • Soft-Edge Exteriors

And, in a possible tribute to Tom Wolfe, one titled:

  • The Kinetic Electric Environment

RUDOLPH IN THE LATE 60’s

The year of that issue’s publication, 1968 (and the years bracketing it) was an exciting time for Paul Rudolph. They included some of his most interesting projects: Endo Labs, Tracey Towers, the Graphic Arts Center and LOMEX projects in NYC, the Green Residence, a stadium project for Saudi Arabia, Oriental Masonic Gardens (where he attempted to utilize prefabrication for housing units), the Burroughs Wellcome headquarters, the Brydges Library in Buffalo---and he also received the NY AIA’s Medal of Honor.

Paul Rudolph was referenced several times in that issue of Progressive Architecture. Ever the innovator, examples of Rudolph’s own designs were included—specifically in the last article, which was focused on light.

Even the title of that section of the magazine—via its unconventional (for the time) loose hand-lettering) reflected the adventurous nature of the content.

Even the title of that section of the magazine—via its unconventional (for the time) loose hand-lettering) reflected the adventurous nature of the content.

Here are the portions of the issue which showed Rudolph’s work:

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

Image courtesy of USModernist Library

In this work, as always, we see Rudolph-the-inventor: experimenting and exploring—and very much a part of that late 60’s hyper-creative era of design. Rudolph’s fascination with light (and light fixtures) would continue, and about a half-decade later he would go on to found a lighting company—Modulightor—in collaboration with Ernst Wagner.

RUDOLPH'S LOUIS SULLIVAN PANEL

An ornamental panel, designed by Louis Sullivan for the Schiller Theater (later known as the Garrick Theater) in Chicago, which opened in 1901. Photograph courtesy of Modulightor.

An ornamental panel, designed by Louis Sullivan for the Schiller Theater (later known as the Garrick Theater) in Chicago, which opened in 1901. Photograph courtesy of Modulightor.

Visitors to the Modulightor Building—and particularly to the Paul Rudolph-designed duplex which is the spatial gem within it—are always curious about one of the objects on display here: a large (nearly 2 feet x 2 feet) panel, with a creamy finish and a complex composition of organic and geometric forms. The panel was designed by Louis Sullivan, and we thought you’d like to hear its interesting story.

ORIGINS: THE WORK OF ANOTHER MASTER

Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) was a renowned American architect, often considered one of the creators of the modern concept the skyscraper. Frank Lloyd Wright, who worked for him, asserted Sullivan to have been his greatest mentor, referring to Sullivan as “Lieber Meister” (beloved master)—and for Wright, a towering ego, it says something that he so strongly acknowledged another architect. Sullivan was based in Chicago and worked mainly in the Midwest—although he also designed major buildings as far away as Buffalo and New York City.

Sullivan was famous for his exuberant, lively, and inventive ornament, creatively integrating both natural (generally plant-based) and geometric forms. The ornament was used on the exteriors and interiors of his buildings, and was made from a variety of materials: terracotta, carved stone, plaster, as well as cast and wrought metals such as bronze and iron.

 Adler & Sullivan—the firm he formed with his architectural partner, Dankmar Adler—designed the Schiller Theater (later known at the Garrick Theater) in Chicago, opening in 1901 with 1,300 seats. It was demolished in 1961, amid protests by preservationists. Although the building was not saved, a large number of ornamental elements from the building were recovered—including our ornamental panel made from cast plaster.

The Schiller Theater Building (later known as the Garrick) was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler of the firm Adler & Sullivan. Our “Sullivan panel” was part of the ornament of the theater’s proscenium arch. Image: Historic American Buildings Survey copy of a photograph taken circa 1900, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Schiller Theater Building (later known as the Garrick) was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler of the firm Adler & Sullivan. Our “Sullivan panel” was part of the ornament of the theater’s proscenium arch. Image: Historic American Buildings Survey copy of a photograph taken circa 1900, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Louis Sullivan is also considered to be America’s prime practitioner of Art Nouveau in architectural design. Though often grouped with other Art Nouveau practitioners, Sullivan’s personal “system of architectural ornament” really grew from his individual philosophy, as well as his investigations of patterns, systems of geometric and natural generation and growth, and by plant forms—and one can readily see that in his composition of this decorative panel.

This view, of the theater’s interior, shows that Sullivan used a variety of cast plaster ornament. The proscenium’s design (seen at the upper-right) is composed of a series of recessing, concentric arches, and one can see that those arches are lined by repeated castings of our “Sullivan panel.” Image: Historic American Buildings Survey copy of a photograph taken circa 1900, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

This view, of the theater’s interior, shows that Sullivan used a variety of cast plaster ornament. The proscenium’s design (seen at the upper-right) is composed of a series of recessing, concentric arches, and one can see that those arches are lined by repeated castings of our “Sullivan panel.” Image: Historic American Buildings Survey copy of a photograph taken circa 1900, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

FROM CHICAGO -TO- YALE

 When the Schiller/Garrick was demolished, at the beginning of the 1960’s, efforts were made to create a comprehensive record of the building (as well as to preserve as many examples of the ornament as possible.) Heroic in this work was Richard Nickel (1928-1972)—the Chicago-based photographer and preservationist. It is to him that we owe much of the documentation and artifacts which survive of Chicago’s lost architecture, as well as his helping to create the preservation movement.

Paul Rudolph took over as Chair of the architecture school at Yale in 1958—and he was to have a long run as head of the school, not leaving the post until 1965. While there, he achieved what is probably the dream of any chair or dean: to design his own school building. The design process began shortly after he started at Yale, and the building—now known as Rudolph Hall in his honor—was completed in 1963, almost instantly becoming one of the most famous Modern buildings in the world.

Although the building rapidly became an icon of the Modern Movement, Rudolph had placed examples of vintage architectural fragments, ornament, and sculpture throughout the building—including examples of Sullivan ornament. We don’t know the exact process whereby the Garrick panels got from Chicago to Yale, but the timing was right: the theater was demolished about the same time that Yale’s school building was being constructed and fitted-out. [Perhaps there was some intersection between Nickel and Rudolph?]

The Yale Art & Architecture Building—Paul Rudolph’s most famous design, and an icon of Modern architecture—was featured in Architectural Record’s February 1964 issue. The cover shows one of the interiors in which, as with many of the building’s other spaces, Rudolph had incorporated vintage ornament, fragments, and objects.   Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library.

The Yale Art & Architecture Building—Paul Rudolph’s most famous design, and an icon of Modern architecture—was featured in Architectural Record’s February 1964 issue. The cover shows one of the interiors in which, as with many of the building’s other spaces, Rudolph had incorporated vintage ornament, fragments, and objects. Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library.

Placing these objects into such an educational setting aroused responses of a “How could you!” flavor (as some thought that their inclusion was a betrayal of Modern principles)—most pointedly from Yale teacher, artist (and Bauhaus alumnus) Josef Albers. [The controversy is covered in recent book from Princeton University Press, Plaster Monuments: Architecture and the Power of Reproduction by Dr. Mari Lending, a professor of architectural history and theory at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.]

FROM YALE -TO- RUDOLPH

Ernst Wagner, founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, tells us that when Rudolph left Yale in 1965, he was told that he could take anything he wanted—and the Sullivan panel was among the things he brought with him to his new home, New York City. In his New York rental apartment, Rudolph used the panel in a unique way: to form the back plane of his living room sofa. Actually, the images we’ve seen of that room show several panels in-a-row, forming that sofa back—so we don’t know if Rudolph owned several original Sullivan panels -or- if he had multiple castings made.

An article in the May, 1967 issue of Progressive Architecture magazine focused on innovative interiors—including Paul Rudolph’s floor-through apartment in a townhouse near the UN. In this view of the living room, the sofa back---made of a series of Sullivan panels—can be seen on the far left. Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library

An article in the May, 1967 issue of Progressive Architecture magazine focused on innovative interiors—including Paul Rudolph’s floor-through apartment in a townhouse near the UN. In this view of the living room, the sofa back---made of a series of Sullivan panels—can be seen on the far left. Image: Courtesy of USModernist Library

THE PANEL GOES UPSTAIRS

Later (in collaboration with Ernst Wagner) Rudolph purchased the townhouse in which he’d been renting: 23 Beekman Place—and he went on to create his famous “Quadruplex” penthouse apartment atop the building. The Sullivan panel, placed at the Eastern end of the living room, acted as a strong formal focus point.

Paul Rudolph’s section-perspective of his Beekman Place “Quadruplex” apartment. In this longitudinal section, looking South, one can see the Sullivan panel at the lower-left. Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

Paul Rudolph’s section-perspective of his Beekman Place “Quadruplex” apartment. In this longitudinal section, looking South, one can see the Sullivan panel at the lower-left. Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

A view of the Living Room in Rudolph’s Quadruplex apartment, looking East. The Sullivan panel at the end of the room, in front of the main window which looks out over the East River. Photograph by Ed Chappell

A view of the Living Room in Rudolph’s Quadruplex apartment, looking East. The Sullivan panel at the end of the room, in front of the main window which looks out over the East River. Photograph by Ed Chappell

FROM QUADRUPLEX -TO- DUPLEX

When Rudolph passed in 1997, Ernst Wagner was one of his heirs. A number of Rudolph’s possessions—including objets d’art from Rudolph’s Quadruplex apartment, passed to Wagner, and among them was the Sullivan Panel (with the mounting frame which Rudolph had designed for it).

The duplex residential spaces, within the Modulightor Building, were originally designed to be revenue-producing rental apartments, but Ernst Wagner (who’d become the sole owner of the building with Rudolph’s passing) began to occupy those spaces in 2000, opening up the doors between the north and south apartments so that it became one spacious, light-filled duplex. He furnished them with things he’d collected, as well as the legacy of objects and antiques he’d received from Rudolph—including the Sullivan panel—and that’s where the panel resides today.

The Sullivan panel, where it now resides in the living room of the Rudolph-designed duplex within the Modulightor Building. Photograph: courtesy of    Annie Schlechter

The Sullivan panel, where it now resides in the living room of the Rudolph-designed duplex within the Modulightor Building. Photograph: courtesy of Annie Schlechter

SEE THE PANEL IN PERSON

The Modulightor Building—including the Rudolph-designed duplex (with the Sullivan panel) can be visited, either by attending our monthly Open House, or by scheduling a private tour. Find out about that through the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s Visit page on our website.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

This American Life’s Ira Glass, Chris Ware, and Tim Samuelson have produced a densely rich book-DVD set, “Lost Buildings,” which focuses on Sullivan’s work—including the efforts that Richard Nickel made to save that built heritage (and the Schiller/Garrick building receives a lot of the book’s attention).

“Lost Buildings” is a book-DVD set, which focuses on the lost work of Louis Sullivan in the Chicago area. The Schiller/Garrick building—and especially its ornament—is one of the buildings which the book delves into.

“Lost Buildings” is a book-DVD set, which focuses on the lost work of Louis Sullivan in the Chicago area. The Schiller/Garrick building—and especially its ornament—is one of the buildings which the book delves into.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can obtain it directly through This American Life’s website. Copies are also often available through Abebooks or Amazon—and the quickest way to locate them on those sites is by putting these 4 words into those pages’ search box: lost buildings collaboration ware

AND GET THE PANEL!

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with Modulightor, is also making available full-size reproductions of the Sullivan panel. They are fabricated by an art-casting firm (who also applies a finish which matches the original with great fidelity), and a portion of each sale goes to support the work of the Foundation. [If you’d like to discuss obtaining one of them, please contact us at:  office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org ]

Rudolph Reimagined: A New York Family’s Reworking of an Iconic Rudolph Interior

“It’s pretty darn original,” Carolyn Rowan says with a beaming smile as she shows me into the living room of her family’s stunning apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; and indeed it is. Described by Ms. Rowan as a “labor of love,” her apartment’s interior is one of particular note for more than purely aesthetic reasons. Redesigned for banker Maurits Edersheim and his wife Claire in 1970 from its original 1917 form, the interior of the 5th-floor apartment is a noted example of Paul Rudolph’s interior works.

When Ms. Rowan and her husband, Marc—longtime residents of the 6th floor—purchased the apartment, they made a promise to Claire Edersheim, who often spoke about how she and Maurits “built the apartment with Rudolph,” that it would remain largely unaltered and that she and her husband would do little to mar or obscure Rudolph’s mastery. The end result of this promise, which was lovingly undertaken with the assistance of noted interior designer Tony Ingrao, is a sleek and retro space that, while more contemporary, retains the Rudolphian whimsy that makes it so unique.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The heart of Rudolph’s vision remains, but in an updated form. Original 1970’s features like track lighting have been supplanted by more modern fixtures, and features like the unique “u” shaped couch, which the Rowans remade in the exact same footprint as the one Ms. Edersheim took with her when she sold the unit, has been reupholstered in a more muted fabric.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

Unfortunately, many Rudolph interiors are lost, razed by later homeowners who lack a knowledge of his significance or an appreciation of his works, which is why it’s important to emphasize renovations like the one undertaken by the Rowan family. As pictured above, the Rowans’ transformed the office space from its original seventies feel to one that was better suited to their own taste, while retaining Rudolph’s couch, desk, stair-shelves, and ceiling decoration.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Genevieve Garruppo courtesy of Tony Ingrao Design’s Intagram

The Rowan renovation shows how an owner of a Rudolph property or interior can still allow for Rudolph’s details to shine through, like the mirrored walls and kidney-shaped sofa seen above.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The hallway, pictured above, received the most changes — however, Rudolph’s design is still present in the sloping walls that punctuate the center right of the hallway, which was once the playroom of the Edersheim children (and is now a foyer that leads to the second story of the Rowan duplex).

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The dining room, seen above, has been repainted in an airy white, and retains the original Paul Rudolph dining table, which cleverly breaks apart into three smaller, circular tables whose connecting leaves fold neatly under the shelving unit against the wall. Though bereft of the delft pottery it was made to showcase, the unique feature wall Rudolph designed still remains in its original form.

Pictured: A before shot provided by Carolyn Rowan next to an after shot taken by Ethan Shapiro

It isn’t easy to be the steward of an iconic property, especially one full of original architectural details. Luckily, there are sensitive owners like the Rowan Family who value such a property and have, throughout their four-year-long renovation, kept the heart and soul of Rudolph alive in their space. Right down to the last mirrored wall pane.