Manhattan’s Mercedes House residences get a modern Mexican revamp
When Two Trees Management unveiled its avant-garde residential project Mercedes House back in 2012, its memorable zigzag form, designed by Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos, immediately granted it landmark status. Six years on, the rental-only building in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood has remained in high demand, so much so that this year, Two Trees decided that it was time for an upgrade.
Working with Savvy Studio, a branding and architecture firm based in both Mexico and New York, the property has been newly imagined to support its new tagline – ‘Full Living.’ Savvy not only oversaw the redesign of the building’s interior, which keeps in step with Norten’s Mexican Modern ethos, but also roped in a host of other global creatives to bring the creation of a melting pot-culture to life.
‘The objective was to refresh the branding and while we were at it, tackle the layout and design of the leasing office. We wanted the branding to be edgier and the office design to be more functional and have a point of view,’ explains Michelle Gaillard, Two Trees Management’s creative director. ‘Savvy was the perfect creative partner because they specialise in branding and interior design. It was also a plus that their roots are in Mexico City and that is where the building’s architect Enrique Norton hails from. Once they [signed on to] the leasing office design, we immediately suggested they redo our model apartments as an extension of that aesthetic.’
The project culminated in a new logo, a lifestyle video and photography, leasing office design, layout and new furniture including custom-designed pieces fabricated in Mexico, and new model apartments.
In Savvy Studio’s hands, Mercedes House’s office has been elegantly installed with custom millwork detailing, a stainless steel reception desk and specially selected furniture, including a lounge chair from Luteca, a table lamp that was produced by the studio in collaboration with the Spanish designed Pablo Limon, and Max Lamb’s copper ‘The Last Stool’. In the leasing office, reissued Michael Van Buren designs from Luteca create a dynamic blend of midcentury and contemporary aesthetics that further enhances the architecture of the building.
‘We wanted to breathe character into the leasing office and model apartments to evoke an inspired feeling,’ says Savvy Studio co-founder Rafael Prieto. ‘Most importantly, we did not want it to feel over-designed, but it needed a strong point of view. We worked a lot with oak and solid woods, a material that is both strong and aesthetically bold and often employed by contemporary designers. We like working with wood and particularly oak for the simple reason that it ages well and gives a feeling of timelessness.’
In the apartments, a Scandinavian style was infused by a more functionally driven approach that left room for a personal stamp to be made. Prieto adds, ‘We changed the furniture and accessories in the model rooms to Scandinavian influence and [brought] functionality front and centre within the space. We made sure to leave room for freedom of individual expression in terms of art and furniture as well. [This project] was about offering an opportunity for people to see Mercedes House not just as apartments, but an opportunity for a personal, curated experience.’
To complete the project, the firm also recruited director Albert Moya to create a new film capturing the vibrant 24-hour lifestyle of being a resident in Hell’s Kitchen. They also worked with photographer Marc Regas and art director Miguel Polidano to creative a seductive visual campaign to bring the message behind the reinvigorated Mercedes House home.
‘We approach every project as a call to action to engage other creatives we like to work who would add to it,’ says Prieto discussing their collaborative approach. ‘ We prefer to let each project spark its own narrative and to foster each space and give it the organic capability to grow into itself. This was definitely applicable when it came to Mercedes House.’§