A rendering of Cullman & Kravis' living room at the 2015 Sotheby's Designer Showhouse. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.
Ellie Cullman, Founder, Cullman & Kravis.

Thirteen leading interior designers and design firms have been selected to curate rooms in the second annual Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse. Located in the auction house’s Manhattan headquarters, the Designer Showhouse will be brimming with an array of treasures, including mid century modern furniture, American studio furniture, Abstract Expressionist paintings, 18th and 19th century American antiques, European antiques, Old Master paintings, contemporary art, and much more. The Showhouse will be open to the public April 11-19, 2015, culminating in a dedicated sale on April 20, 2015.

Each space in the Designer Showhouse brings together fine and decorative arts from a variety of categories offered by Sotheby’s. In addition to reflecting each designer’s singular style, the Showhouse exemplifies how design professionals use antiques and fine art to create dynamic contemporary interiors. According to Cullman & Kravis, the New York-based firm behind the Showhouse’s living room, “Antiques and fine art play a critical role in adding context and interest to contemporary design. If a room is contemporary only, it's ‘one-note’. Antiques add character and historical context to a modern room; they are the owner's connection to the world around them. And at the same time, contemporary art adds energy and excitement to a room full of antiques. It is this juxtaposition - what we call ‘opposites attract’ that enlivens and enriches our interiors.”

Curated by Cullman & Kravis founder, Ellie Cullman, and design partners, Lee Cavanaugh, Sarah DePalo, Claire Ratliff, and Alyssa Urban, the Showhouse’s living room includes fine art, furniture, and decorative objects ranging from antiquity to the present day. “We started with one of Cullman & Kravis’ golden rules  - start the room with the rug.  Our choice for the Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse is a striking 1930s Art Deco carpet by Jacques Adnet. The sensuous deep red color in the rug is echoed in the curtains and French ‘40s inspired throw pillows with a Rose motif. The walls are embellished in a metallic glaze, referencing the crocheted curtain edge on our curtains. And making a debut here - our new ‘medallion’ sheers for Holland & Sherry. The floor plan is comfortable and functional, with seating around the fireplace, a writing desk, a sideboard for crystal and barware, and a console for family photos and books, including our own recent book: The Detailed interior." Highlights featured in the living room include a rosewood and gilt bronze Art Deco sideboard by Dominique; an abstract screenprint by the contemporary artist Gerhard Richter; an acid-etched and enameled coffee table by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne; and a lavish Italian cut and colored glass-mounted carved giltwood chandelier. Cullman & Kravis spoke of the importance of the living room in any home, stating, “Choosing the aesthetic direction for the living room is the most critical decision in any project because all the rooms in a house orbit around the living room and must transition logically from there. At the same time, we are always mindful of function: of course, every room must be beautiful, but it must also function for the clients' needs and lifestyle. Never sacrifice function for form!”

Claire Ratliff, Design Partner, Cullman & Kravis.
Lee Cavanaugh, Design Partner, Cullman & Kravis.
Sarah DePalo, Design Partner, Cullman & Kravis.
Alyssa Urban, Design Partner, Cullman & Kravis.

Highlights featured in the rest of the Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse include a pair of George III pier mirrors, a George IV mahogany rosewood and walnut circular center table, two Fairfield Porter drawings, and a pair of works on paper by Salvador Dali in the foyer/gallery curated by Janine MacMurray and Scott Francis of AREA Interior Design; a black-and-white photograph by Ansel Adams, a Victorian slate chimney piece, and a pair of Italian Rococo style mirrors in the library curated by Juan Carretero of Capital C Interiors; an Alex Katz painting, a set of fourteen George III mahogany dining chairs, and a William IV rosewood circular center table in the dining room curated by Russell Piccione of Russell Piccione Design; a silver plate by Pablo Picasso, a Tom Wesselmann lithograph, and a Rosenthal porcelain “Tema e Variazioni” plate designed by Piero Fornasetti in the kitchen curated by Robert Schwartz and Karen Williams of St. Charles Kitchen and Lindsey Schwartz of CURATED by St. Charles; a Chinese export black lacquer cabinet, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed silver pitcher, and an Ole Wanscher sideboard for the breakfast room curated by Ashley Darryl of Ashley Darryl Interiors; a pair of Range de Belgique marble wall fountains and a painting by Alejandro Obregon in the garden curated by landscape designer Hanna Packer and landscape architect Susan Cohen; a Swedish Rococo blue-painted and carved sofa from the mid-18th century, a pair of George III polychrome painted mahogany hall chairs, and a William IV rosewood sofa table by Taprell, Holland & Son in the sun room curated by Meredith Ellis of Meredith Ellis Design; a mahogany and leather armchair by the Scandinavian mid century modern furniture master Frits Henningsen, a “Slab” coffee table by the pioneering American studio furniture maker George Nakashima, and two works on paper by Fairfield Porter in the family room curated by Eric Cohler; a George III mahogany serpentine-fronted serving table, a George III inlaid rosewood and satinwood side cabinet, and a pair of rock crystal and charcoal quartz wall-lights in the gallery curated by Allison Caccoma of Allison Caccoma Inc.; a set of four Italian Neoclassical carved and stained fruitwood armchairs, a bronze Fernando Botero sculpture, an Art Deco round carpet attributed to Paule Leleu, and a mid century modern easy chair and ottoman by Erik Kolling Andersen & Jørgen Magnussen in the bedroom curated by Robert Dean Harris of Harris Dean Interiors; a pair of George III inlaid satinwood and tulipwood pembroke tables, a Mogens Koch desk, and an Italian neoclassical chandelier in the master study curated by Leura Fine of Laurel & Wolf; and a pair of Russian gilded silver and cloisonne enamel champagne flutes, multiple works on paper by Pablo Picasso, and a German neoclassical secretaire a abattant in the master bedroom curated by Trey LaFave of Trey LaFave Architectural & Interior Design. The works featured in the Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse carry estimates that range from a few thousand dollars to $250,000, and will all be available for purchase in the auction on April 20.

A rendering of Cullman & Kravis' living room at the 2015 Sotheby's Designer Showhouse. Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Cullman & Kravis hope that Showhouse visitors will walk away with a better understanding of the important role that interior designers play in creating multifaceted yet cohesive contemporary spaces. “It is hard for people to put a room together that is both functional and beautiful.  Our job as design professionals is to create this critical balance -- designing interiors that are complex, layered with old and new, and still a true reflection of our client’s wishes and dreams.”