Kitchen Art: Hamptons Edition

Art hunting, a popular spectator sport in the Hamptons comes with one minor drawback; parking lot traffic. The medley of Hampton’s annual art and design fairs have drawn so many visitors that parking lot coordination can set you back a good hour on opening nights. But, for this unperturbed art lover, the traffic is a small price to pay. Why? Because I know what now seems like common news; the art fairs are getting good again.

Weekend events such as Art Southampton (located in Bridge, but who’s paying attention) and ArtHamptons are notable rivals for Basel, Frieze and the like. Art Southampton, for example, boasts 70 art galleries showcasing affable, conversation-provoking pieces. What’s more, they cater to the “on the spot” buyer. Sure, you can find an over-appreciated Warhol in booth 203, but most of the art is not extortionately priced. Many galleries display items that are in the sweet spot where you can literally take it home with you that night – for Hamptonites anyway.

As a proprietor of luxury goods for kitchen design firm St. Charles of New York, I’m always on the hunt for pieces you can place in and around the kitchen space. This year, the art fairs seem to have gotten my memo. Here are my top picks for kitchen-friendly art.

Christian Voigt: Fruit Market | Courtesy of UNIX Gallery
Christian Voigt: Fruit Market | Courtesy of UNIX Gallery

Exotic fruits take center stage in a vividly captured Cambodian marketplace. Not only is this a colorful addition to a white kitchen, but it’s a constant reminder to eat healthy. Bring on the rambutan, please!

Gan Daofu: Porcelain collection |
Gan Daofu: Porcelain collection |

Daofu’s modern porcelain structures can be seen an homage to the traditional blue and white chinoiserie. Display these in groups of threes on a dining room or coffee table.

Peter Anton: Ice Cream Sandwich and Red, White, and Blue Rocket Bar | Courtesy of UNIX Gallery
Peter Anton: Ice Cream Sandwich and Red, White, and Blue Rocket Bar | Courtesy of UNIX Gallery

You would be hard pressed to find an appropriate venue outside of the kitchen space for these frozen delights. Anton’s playful food-based illustrations allow for our favorite summer indulgences to populate those smaller, purposeless walls of empty space often found betwixt shelves, cabinets and appliances.

Sarah Bahbah: Sex and Take Out |
Sarah Bahbah: Sex and Take Out |

Most people see bachelor pad art.  I see a subtle criticism of our present eating habits that needs to be captured and readjusted.

St. Charles at Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse

The art world is intrigued and enlightened by the Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse, an interactive auction that displays the best of interior and architectural design trends while simultaneously showcasing fine furniture and home accessories.

Illustration of St. Charles kitchen at the Sotheby’s designer show house by Joel Galang

The internationally acclaimed auction house tapped thirteen premier designers to construct a state-of-the-art home experience on their fifth floor. The idea behind the showhouse is to provide a backdrop worthy of Sotheby’s finest home furnishing items. The showhouse is an enlightening experience for art collectors who struggle with product placement. Too much art can often make you feel like you’re living in a museum. As a featured showhouse designer, we are using this opportunity to provide insight in creating a comfortable living space and work with the grain of great art and antiques.

At St. Charles, we are using the showhouse to convey one of our core messages- that art can and should be displayed in the kitchen.

We’ll be posting behind the scenes videos and more. Follow our blog for exclusive access into the making of  the first ever Sotheby’s Kitchen!

For more information about the Sotheby’s show house, go to



Sotheby’s Designer Show House

The team at St. Charles is delighted to officially announce our dual participation in the 2015 Annual Sotheby’s Designer Show House!


Karen Williams  and Robert Schwartz of St. Charles of New York will be working alongside a powerhouse line-up of industry leaders to transform the fifth floor of Sotheby’s landmark Upper East Side location into a fully functioning living space. The show, spanning from the 11th to the 19th of April, will serve as an interactive auction of fine art, furniture, and home decor.

We are also thrilled to inform you that St. Charles styling division CURATED will be a featured participant of the show! Working directly with Sotheby’s silver and porcelain departments, Lindsey Schwartz of CURATED is the youngest participant involved in the show.

Design Challenge: Through the Window

In the world of luxury kitchen design, designers and clients alike seek to achieve a level of grandeur in their work– perhaps in the form of a drop dead gorgeous burgundy La Cornue island, a statement light fixture, or a massive semiprecious countertop. But sometimes these heavy-hitters are simply too big to be brought up in an elevator or up the stairs – what then? 


Let us take a scenario I recently encountered in for a client with an elegantly appointed loft on the upper east side. The client wanted a 9 x 5 foot Carrara marble island; one continuous, giant slab. This piece, however, couldn’t fit even horizontally in the largest elevator in the building!

While the facades of luxury high-rises in Manhattan echo grandeur of an earlier time, their interiors especially back and service entrances often also reflect an older period- one of far more diminutive proportions! These narrow staircases and petite elevators were truly not built for the rigors of modern construction nor the magnitude of modern taste.

The alternative: We take out the windows and hoist the giant countertop in on a crane!

Fortunately, kitchen designers are not alone in their woes of spacial constraints. Often the decorator will need the crane as well to bring in an oversize sofa, large works of art, or (classically) a grand piano.

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These pieces are brought up near the end of the job, when almost everything else is in place. Decorators, designers, and architects team up to ensure that all oversize items are coordinated to be hoisted up on the same day. Often the entire street will have to be blocked off for several to accommodate the crane as it carefully hauls up materials piece by piece.

While attempting to install a kitchen on the twentieth (or higher!) floor poses significant challenges, private houses are often just as difficult if not more challenging to install. Fortunately many kitchens are built on the ground floor of the home but, as to any rule, there are always exceptions. When I renovated the kitchen for a brownstone in Brooklyn where the kitchen was situated on the second floor (pictured left). The design of the kitchen was sleek and I specified some heavy-hitting appliances that would suit the needs of a busy family and high volume kitchen: a large integrated Sub Zero refrigerator and a Wolf range.

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Normally these appliances can be brought up (thankfully) in a service elevator for apartment buildings; but here, there was no service elevator and the stairs in the house curved gracefully in a way that would simply not accommodate their substantial size. As a result, these two appliances had to be hoisted by crane up just one story to that second floor and brought in via the balcony. A lot of work for such a short distance.

The added effort (and drama) that can arise from designing and installing on a larger scale, makes these kitchens just that much more special and unique. It allows the kitchen to acquire a narrative ofits own- and isn’t that what having a custom kitchen design all about? So for your next project feel free to dream large, but be aware that the oversize pieces require substantial productions to execute! 

Enjoy a Taste of T at A & D!

Sandy cannot prevent the New York Times Style Magazine and the Architects & Designers Building from their mission to raise money for God’s Love We Deliver, and we are excited to be part of it!  This charitable organization is the tri-state area’s leading provider of nutritious, individually-tailored meals for those who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Tackling the crises hunger and illness, they generously deliver “food as medicine.”

We are inviting you through our doors and into our kitchen to celebrate an evening of food, design, and health!

Joining you in our showroom will be esteemed chef Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar with her deliciously unreal lobster rolls. Also offering his taste will be Simpson Wong of Wong, who has won over the taste buds of fellow artistic visionary Martha Stewart with his delicious pan-Asian cuisine.

New York’s premier food and design event will take place on Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 6 to 8:30 PM.  Bring your appetite!

Click here for tickets and to see a full list of participants.



Karen Williams Joins Institute of Classical Architecture & Art

Now that she’s doing more historic renovation work,  Karen Williams has joined the prestigious Institute of Classical  Architecture & Art. Her interest in the field has been growing with projects such as a special landmark A. Hays Town residence in Baton Rouge,  an English-style castle in Westchester, and  several historic barns in the Hamptons and Sag Harbor.

Karen Williams at English castle in Westchester

Karen Williams has been doing an increasing amount of historic renovation work, including a kitchen area addition to this English-style castle in Westchester.

As a professional member, she’ll have access to a wide array of classes, tours, lectures, salons and conferences. The non-profit ICAA is dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism, and their allied arts. Karen is looking forward to expanding her knowledge of the vernacular of classical architecture and exploring its translation into kitchens and architectural space planning today.

Institute of Classical Architecture & Art

She’ll be in good company too. Robert Stern, Charlotte Moss, Jamie Drake and Stephen Wang are among the renown architects and designers who are members.

How do you know when it’s time to redo your kitchen?

Maybe if your kitchen looks a bit like this piece of art Robert Schwartz saw recently in Bridgehampton? A play on the Greek custom of breaking plates, it could also be a clue it’s time to do something about the kitchen.

broken plates sculpture

A sculpture from a Bridgehampton gallery, or "it's time to do something about the kitchen!"

Or maybe your kitchen dates from the late 60’s like this one that brought Schwartz to his knees at the Moma Counter Space exhibit earlier this year? The hinged mobile unit on casters was once considered an innovative and flexible design responsive to new ideas about casual and adaptable living. Hmmm….

bob at moma exhibit

A '60s-era "progressive" kitchen on display at the Moma Counter Culture exhibit earlier this year brought Schwartz to his knees.

But then of course, if this is how you use your oven, a new kitchen may just be a matter of a timely face lift.

storage in oven

If this is all the action your oven sees, a new kitchen face lift may be all that's required.

Art in the kitchen? Absolutely, says Robert Schwartz

As a lover of all kinds of art, I don’t believe it has to be walled off in formal living spaces. Why not put it in the kitchen where you really live and can enjoy it all the time? That’s why I’ve brought art into the St. Charles of New York showroom. And I often design kitchens with art placement in mind.

I recently attended the opening of the summer salon of the MK Hamburg Kennedy Gallery in Southampton where pop artist Peter Tunney’s work caught my eye. And I hope to have him display a few pieces on consignment in our showroom.

I think this piece by pop artist Peter Tunney says a lot. We've invited him to display a few of his pieces in our showroom

I think this piece by pop artist Peter Tunney says a lot. We've invited him to display a few of his pieces in our showroom on the 8th floor of the A&D Building.

My latest find, an original Woodstock poster, has a prominent spot now in our inspirational showroom. For our opening, we partnered with the sculptor Joseph McDonnell who turned his work “Ice Cubes” into a dramatic light over an island.

Sculptor Joseph McDonnell hung his work "Ice Cubes" when we opened our inspirational new showroom.

Sculptor Joseph McDonnell hung his work "Ice Cubes" when we opened our inspirational new showroom.

And when we designed this Kips Bay Decorator Show House kitchen, we devised lighted niches throughout for display of art glass pieces from around the world. As kitchens today are true living rooms, why not curate your own art gallery there?

Art pieces in thoughtfully designed niches play a starring role in our Kips Bay Decorator Show House.

Art pieces in thoughtfully designed niches played a starring role in our Kips Bay Decorator Show House.