Over the past ten years, there has been an increase in New York City’s towers that can see through the clouds, each trying to claim Manhattan’s ever-crowded skyline. The 53 West 53 is a landmark at 1,050 feet high. Pontiac Land Group built it in partnership with Hines. Jean Nouvel, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect from Paris, executed it. The distinctive diagrid facade, an exposed structural system that frames every unit of the building’s view, elevates it to a new addition: the ELLE DECOR Penthouse.
ELLE DECOR A-List Designer Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem Associates, New York, brought this space to life. Few design companies are more familiar with the magazine than Fox-Nahem Associates. Nahem says, “I’ve been a member of the ELLEDECOR family for probably thirty decades.” He and his late business partner Tom Fox landed their first ELLEDECOR cover in their 20s. Nahem’s approach to the space was to showcase the work of less-known artisans and pieces from established brands. “ELLE DECOR’s people are so varied. It’s always exciting to me.” This artful mixture is evident in the living room. The 22-foot high ceilings and stunning views of Central Park make it a captivating backdrop for Holly Hunt’s seating. They are positioned against a massive wall installation by Peter Lane and plaster floor lamps by John Koga from Ralph Pucci.
Nahem considers the penthouse’s interior architecture one of its best features. He says many other buildings lack this beautiful hardware or these lacquered 10-foot-tall doors. “That was a great start. These choices were not bland or hidden in the background.” The kitchen is where the preexisting elements are most prominent. White marble countertops and polished nickel accents create an elegant setting for entertaining. Elyse Graham designed the pendant lights and a colorful resin table that Nahem added to the space. It’s not the first time Graham has collaborated with Nahem on custom work, as with many other boutique names in the building. He explains that she started making small vessels and vases when they first met on Instagram. “I asked her, “How would you like to make a whole bathroom?” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Nahem’s vision is reflected in similar anecdotes throughout the space. He tells of how Hoon Kim, an artisan whose massive metal and resin art stands in the dining area facing the floor-to-ceiling views, worked with him previously on a bathroom wall at Robert Downey Jr.’s Hamptons home. Ian Felton, the designer of the penthouse’s custom bench, recently had to rush a glass table from Miami to meet a deadline. The foyer has its own story: Reynold Rodrguez, the designer of the console and mirrors, developed a business that focuses on salvaging wood from Puerto Rico’s fallen trees.
The penthouse’s bedrooms are where some of its most exciting design elements can be found. One bedroom features a bed covered in saddle-brown leather from top to bottom. Phillip Jeffries’ luxurious wallcoverings offset the Campana Brothers piece by DDC, a favorite of Nahem’s. The guest rooms are playful, from the Chapter & Verse ceramic nightstands to the Brandi Howe alpaca-fleece lounger. The primary bedroom is softer, with an all-white color scheme and a nearby walk-in closet and bathroom made of Verona limestone.