Peter Marino does not believe in buying off the rack, or at least not off the showroom floor. “I don’t walk furniture showrooms. I would much rather design something myself,” says the New York–based architect. “I like to involve different artists when I design things for a room. The variety of input creates something completely different. Nearly everything in this room has been designed from scratch.”
The room in question—a 900-square-foot entryway-cum-gallery in a Palm Beach, Fla., house owned by a retired couple from New York—reflects Marino’s taste for the one-of-a-kind. Indeed, the house itself, with its Asian-influenced design, is unique along the coast of Palm Beach, which is populated by Italianate mansions. “The recipe here is modern architecture plus Asian spices. You have to balance the yin and the yang or you end up with a home that looks like a Chinese restaurant,” he jokes.
After entering the house through a set of bronze doors, which Marino imbued with various textures including one that resembles reeds, you immediately look out to the ocean. To the right are a mirror and an 18th-century Italian chest made of ebonized walnut inlaid with mother-of-pearl and brass. To the left is a fireplace and chairs. “I like entryways with fireplaces. It makes you feel warm right away,” says Marino. “And since the house is more than 10,000 square feet, you often find yourself waiting for people.” Hence the chairs, which are accented with cushions made from Japanese silk.
Although the homeowners possess a large collection of art that includes several paintings, Marino did not place any of them in the gallery. “I wanted to start off calm. This is a space you pass through quickly—not a great place to contemplate a work of art,” he explains. “Instead, you see elements that you find throughout the house: bronze, beige, stone. It’s very much the table of contents.” The walls may be bare, but they have been covered with a dozen coats of lacquer.
Marino collaborated with French craftswoman Claude Lalanne on a pair of ginkgo-leaf bronze benches, and with Pennsylvania ceramist Paula Winokur on the tiles inside the French-limestone fireplace. Per Marino’s request, the tiles have a spongelike texture that, he says, recalls the sea. Another oceanic tie-in is the carpet, which Marino designed to look and feel like sand.
“It’s difficult to categorize the style of a room like this. I just call it international good taste,” says Marino. “It’s so versatile; it could be anywhere in the world.”
Peter Marino Architect