Feature: The White Tornado

<< Back to Robb Report, December 2002
  • Judith Nasatir

Remember the white tornado? That muscular but friendly force clad in tight, bright white, who swept the interior clean and shined its surfaces to a brilliant sparkle? Well, that force is still with us, and her name is Jennifer Post.

Post is a New York interior designer with an architectural bent and a client list that includes the regular house-proud as well as the celebrity house-proud, among them Jennifer Lopez and Matt Lauer. And while Post may be a petite whirlwind who really does hail from tornado country (southern Ohio), she deliberately whips up the calmest and most functional of spaces, as this serene, light-filled, 3,200-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan attests.

These clients love living in a modern space and are knowledgeable about what it takes to create it. “I spent much of my work career in construction,” says the husband. “Jennifer has a tremendous feel for space. She also has a wonderful sense of color. Even though a good deal of the interior is white, it’s still a warm place.”

Post’s sense of space can be defined, in part, as follows: “People live in rooms for more than one reason. They use them for more than one function, particularly in urban dwellings, where rooms have different uses at different times of the day. Therefore, the space must be fluid, highly organized, and extremely attractive.”

It also has to fit the personality of the people living in it. Everything followed directly from her clients’ desires: “We wanted a light-filled space that was contemporary but comfortable,” the husband says. “Comfort was actually one of our primary goals. Jennifer listened, and came up with very good suggestions. And she didn’t mind rethinking things, especially if she thought there might be a better solution.”

Post managed to achieve the clients’ hoped-for degrees of luminosity, fluidity, and comfort by making significant renovations in what was in fact a new building. “The existing interior walls impeded the flow of light from the floor-to-ceiling windows on three of the four perimeter walls,” she says. Demolishing the offending walls, converting the three-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom, and partitioning the newly opened space with sandblasted sliding glass panels readjusted the balance of the interior, redirecting the relationships among the various rooms and maximizing the views of Central Park and the Hudson River.

In modern spaces, true success lies in the way a designer manipulates what is not seen—what is behind the scenes. “Most of my clients, including this couple, want all the bells and whistles in terms of technology, but they don’t want to see any of the stuff that makes technology work,” says Post. “But the more you open up the space, the more seamless everything has to be. You have to plan where all the equipment, the wiring and the millwork go before anything else can happen.”

Post choreographed a palette of white surfaces with moves from matte to lacquer, from semigloss to high-gloss, from palest cream to softest pearl, from leather to limestone. The resulting light-loving rooms offer a serene setting for an art collection notable for the inclusion of strong, saturated colors. While most of the furnishings are white, lean, and leggy, Post has upholstered the accent pieces in primary hues that resonate with the art on the walls. Colored rugs fly across the floor plane, and the choice of orange for one of the living room rugs adds a sophisticated dash of chromatic dissonance. The soft limestone floors are meant to feel welcoming to bare feet. Cantilevered, lacquered ledges float around the room, and steel frames anchor sofas and tables.
 
All the architectural restructuring was worth the effort, says Post, to achieve the kind of interior that truly embraces the people who live in it. “People’s homes are their sanctuaries and should be treated and designed as such. They are the only places in today’s world where people can enjoy true privacy. I regard that as extremely important, so I plan every detail obsessively to ensure that the finished spaces are fluid, highly organized, and extremely comfortable.”

The function-first ethic may initially look a little spare—and even hard—to her clients, says Post, particularly to those not familiar with the highly edited aesthetic of classic modern design. But, she says, “I always think about my clients’ phys-ical comfort. Once I show them that modern furniture can be more comfortable than traditional puffy upholstery, and that it’s actually better for your back over the long term, they begin to realize that what I do isn’t arbitrary. Comfort is always the top priority. After all, the Italians are successful in clothes, cars, and design for a reason.”

Post may be a white tornado, but she creates calm refuges. “Ultimately,” she concludes, “you want people to smile when they walk in the door.”

Jennifer Post, 212.734.7994

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