OTTRA’s dreamy one-of-a-kind custom chaise steals the scene in the den of Elle Decor’s duplex penthouse in midtown Manhattan, with interiors designed by Fox-Nahem Associates. OTTRA by Zimmerman Workshop designs and builds made-to-order handcrafted furniture in their Brooklyn studio/workshop, available through Incollect. Photo: Kelly Marshall

Fox-Nahem Mixes Contemporary Makers & Luxury Brands 
in a Manhattan Penthouse

Manhattan is renowned for its luxurious residential towers with palatial floor plans and exquisite interior finishes that provide an enviable canvas for interior designers. One of the most recent and visually enticing offerings is the 7,973-square-foot penthouse duplex residence comprising the entire 76th and 77th floors atop the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel’s 82-story tower in the heart of Midtown, soaring more than 1,000 feet into the air above the Museum of Modern Art. 

53 West 53 contains 161 residences but the pinnacle is a pair of duplex penthouses with private elevators. Designed by Fox-Nahem Associates, Penthouse 76 builds on the late, legendary architect and designer Thierry Despont’s bespoke finishes along with artwork on loan from the Pace Gallery in New York. The result is a luxurious, elegant and sophisticated contemporary residence of not only grand scale and proportions with spectacular views but a marvelously complementary and harmonious interior scheme. 

Left: The dramatic great room boasts 22-ft ceilings, three walls of windows and a spectacular ceramic wall piece by Peter Lane stretching skyward over the 11-ft. wide limestone fireplace. Sofas and chairs by Vladimir Kagan from Holly Hunt were chosen for their curvilinear forms to balance the strong geometry of the structure. Right: Against an ethereal backdrop of “October'' panoramic wallcovering by Élitis, Reynold Rodriguez’s sculptural carved plaster console, lamps and mirror are bookended by a pair of his charred hand-carved almendro wood “K Chairs,” available through Incollect. Photos: Kelly Marshall

“It is an honor to be involved in such an illustrious project,” said Joe Nahem, principal of Fox-Nahem Associates. “The canvas we were presented to work with was ideal, from the grand proportions to the versatility of the spaces and the seamless floor plan that connects it all and makes the home feel intimate despite its size. We furnished the penthouse with pieces that reflect our firm’s aesthetic and would resonate with fellow design enthusiasts while also catering to potential residents.

Metal and resin art installation by Studio Hoon Kim, a frequent Fox-Nahem collaborator, is a symphony of texture and tone, the perfect piece to reflect the shifting light from the magnificent views. A credenza designed by Joseph Cleghorn and Connor Moxam of Chapter & Verse, NYC features the studio’s superlative craftsmanship embellished with tiles by Peter Lane. The “Demeter” dining table base and “Positano” chairs are by French architect, artist and designer Patrick Naggar for Ralph Pucci. John Koga’s “Evening Glow” chandelier in Plasterglass and hand-blown glass ties floats above the table, an expressively biomorphic form. The bronze Brutalist lamp is vintage 1970 by Maurizio Tempestini. Photo: Kelly Marshall


One of the gratifying aspects of the interior scheme is how Fox-Nahem has combined items by established luxury brands, including Poltrona Frau, Pucci, Holly Hunt, Scavolini, Phillip Jeffries, and Molteni with unique pieces by artisans and contemporary makers including a nearly 4,000 lb. fireplace wall installation by Peter Lane, a custom dining table and chairs by Patrick Naggar, a custom pendant light by John Koga, and an art installation by Studio Hoon Kim. A colorful breakfast table by Elyse Graham adds a playful casualness to the perfect spot for morning coffee.

Established in 2010 by husband-and-wife team Adam and Sofia Zimmerman, the Brooklyn-based architects and designers Zimmerman Workshop was tapped by Nahem for a custom-designed and unique handcrafted wooden chaise and a pair of funky bedroom side tables based on martini cocktail table designs. Produced under the brand name Ottra in their own Brooklyn facility, where everything is custom-made to high standards, the pieces reflect a commitment to elegance, meticulous detailing, and quality construction, not to mention contemporary functionality.

 The primary bedroom abounds in soft tones and textures. A pair of graceful custom pedestal bedside tables are by OTTRA. The artwork above the bed is by Maya Lin, best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kelly Marshall

The Zimmermans ventured into the furniture world after “we designed a conference table for their own office, which was fabricated by a local woodworker,” Sofia Zimmerman says. They formally launched Ottra by Zimmerman Workshop in 2016, and now handcraft furniture for residential, hospitality, and corporate interiors. In 2017 they brought their first nine-piece Catenary Collection to market, first at the Architectural Digest Design Show, then BKLYN Designs, and the ICFF. 

Every reading nook needs a cozy seat, and Brandi Howe’s “Anenome” alpaca fleece chair is plush and inviting. Howe based her design on the carpet anemone she discovered when she moved to Miami Beach. She rigorously tested the chair herself to ensure that it was comfortable in every position.  The purple “Dew Drop” resin table is by Ian Alistair Cochran. Photo: Kelly Marshall

“One of the things we admire about Joe and his team at Fox-Nahem Associates is his appreciation for and support of artisans like us. The Penthouse exemplifies that, and it was an honor to create these unique pieces and see them in the company of works by many other designers that we admire. This was a wonderful collaboration, where the process was just as exciting as the final reveal,” says Sofia Zimmerman. 

The chaise was a new commission and special project and the designers have not yet built a proper tear sheet for clients. Adam Zimmerman admits this has been a little bit of a problem as the piece has been getting a lot of interest since the interior design of the apartment was unveiled and publicized in Elle Decor. “The chaise was unique to this project for Fox-Nahem, but it is now available to order,” he says.

“We have been fortunate to have collaborated with Adam, Sofia, and the Ottra team on several projects,” says Joe Nahem. “The process is the perfect balance of artistry, craftsmanship and practicality. It’s rare to find such creative artisans who also listen to what designers are looking for and what our clients need. Whether it is a unique double-sided shelf settee or a magnificent staircase, each commission is a joy to watch as they take us through and share their process.”  

Other statement design pieces in the apartment include a Campana Brothers Grinza Bed with an en-suite bathroom clad in high-honed Verona limestone with polished nickel Dornbracht fixtures. Adjacent to the bedroom is a chic south-facing lounge which in addition to offering downtown skyline and water views has a bar by Scavolini and a discrete office area decorated with a silver-toned wall installation by Chapter & Verse, another Brooklyn design team.

Left: Chapter and Verse’s “Sarcomere” technique transforms strands of cardboard and resin into a luxe, highly textural material that the studio has used to create furniture and here, a custom wall surface that evokes an organic surface with the patina of time. The green shelves and a built-in desk complete the installation. Right: “Tsugime” table from Chapter & Verse in textured bronze base with lapis lazuli top, available through Incollect. Photos: Kelly Marshall

“Our wall at 76 West 53rd uses a technique we call “Sarcomere,” where strands of cardboard are intricately woven onto a substrate and manipulated to give a variety of textures,” a spokesperson for Chapter & Verse said. “The composition is then arrested in resin and treated with a range of diverse finishes. Sarcomere was first developed during a commission for a client, where we created a cabinet that appeared as a chrome bale of cardboard. Since then, the process has grown from a very literal use of the material into something completely unfamiliar. One of our favorite aspects of a finished piece is that its root material remains hidden, transformed through each phase of production until it develops a unique identity of its own.”

“Wood wizard” Caleb Woodard is one of Joe Nahem’s favorite collaborators, and for this project, the Tennessee-based artist created a wavy demilune console and the wall panels seen in the photo at right. Photos: Kelly Marshall

The impressive collection of esteemed artisan creators and branded interior partners involved in the project includes Alfonso Marina, Amuneal, Artemest, Assouline, Atra, Caleb Woodard, Casey Johnson, Casey McCafferty, Chapter & Verse, Christian Siriano, Conrad Shades, DDC, Dedar, Elitis, Elyse Graham, Farrow & Ball, Holly Hunt, Humble Matter, Ian Felton, Ironies, Jacco Olivier, Julian Chichester, Lorin Marsh, Made Goods, Maison Gerard, Mansour, Marks & Tavano, Molteni&C, OTTRA, Pace Gallery, Peter Lane Studio, Phillip Jeffries, Poltrona Frau, Pontiac Land Group, Ralph Pucci International, Reynold Rodriguez, Saint-Louis, Samuel & Sons, Savoir Beds, Scavolini, Studio Hoon Kim, Rago/Wright, The Rug Company, Tuleste Factory, Visual Comfort & Co., Yves Delorme.

Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is the exclusive sales and marketing agency for 53 West 53. For additional information or to schedule a private appointment, please contact the sales gallery at 212-688-5300 or visit