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The French Invade New York and Bring a Luxury Condo with Them

Designer Linda Pinto talks about how her studio brought a little of France to the Upper East Side.

The New York real estate scene is used to superlatives. Record-setting sales and swoon-worthy amenities are common. Sometimes the impressive price tags stand in front of a good story. Such is the case with 27 East 79th Street, a 15-story luxury condominium project from Adellco and HTO Architect. While headlines have focused on the building’s 3,006-square-foot duplexes, (one of three recently sold for $12 million), the design-minded among us are fascinated with the style, which is defiantly elegant for a new property, and the opposite of the futuristic-looking glass-and-steel towers that typically explode in summer blockbusters.

This is the first residential project in the United States for Cabinet Alberto Pinto, an award-winning French design studio that creates supremely custom interiors, yachts, and private airplanes for clients in an ultra-refined sphere. From the beginning, 27 East 79th Street was intended to be Upper East Side-sophisticated and very custom, which ultimately meant it had to be French. The limestone façade has Neoclassical details and Art Nouveau-inspired ironwork, like the gracious homes of 19th century Paris. The lobby has French limestone tiles and Noir Saint Laurent marble floors. There are mouldings and ceiling cornices for full-on Francophile splendor and La Cornue ranges for real gourmands.

Even as the first project of its kind for Cabinet Alberto Pinto, Linda Pinto, the owner and director of studio, felt confident creating the interiors and exteriors. “No matter where a residence is located, we know Parisian design,” she says. “At East 79th Street, we imparted our Parisian design sense while maintaining a distinctly New York feel.”

We asked Pinto how she delivered a certain je ne sais quoi to the project, and which of the eight units she’d like to live in…like the 5-bedroom penthouse with views of Central Park.

Tell us how you became involved in the 27 East 79th Street project?

We’ve always wanted to work on a new, ground-up condominium in New York City and through a mutual connection, I was introduced to Matthew Adell, the developer of 27 East 79th Street.  We quickly realized we shared a similar vision for the building and were eager to collaborate.

This is the first residential building project from Cabinet Alberto Pinto in New York. How was the experience of working in the city? What surprised you the most?

We have worked on many private residences in New York City and throughout the United States, however, this is the first time we designed the full façade and the interiors of a building. As an international interior designer, working in cities all over the world, nothing, in particular, surprised us here in New York. Still, working in New York City is always exciting! There is a special energy in the city that never sleeps.

What were some of the special elements, finishes, materials you and your design team have brought to this project?

Choreographing a residential experience that was cohesive inside and out was important to us, as well as imparting a sense of luxury throughout the entire building. The façade’s design was specially created to reflect an elegant Paris inspired Beaux Arts style. Several specific elements were designed to achieve this goal including, the wrought iron main entrance doors with their ornaments and handrails; the façade’s chandeliers, and the mix of French-style limestone Saint-Maximin Liais Dur (used in a massive scale to build Paris in the 17th century) and cast ironwork, which is featured throughout the project.

The Lobby and elevator corridor continue this mix between the Saint-Maximin Liais Dur, mirrors, chandeliers, and floor layout with Saint Laurent marble cabochons and frame. Special treatments in bronze with decorative elements were designed for the lift doors. The specific cabin lift decoration was designed with noble materials such as bronze, oak marquetry, and special glossy brushed paint with Saint Laurent and Saint Maximin flooring.

Inside the apartments, several elements were specifically designed for this project. The living and dining rooms and hallways were done in Versailles parquet, timber flooring with a special finish in Oak gray. For the Master Bathrooms, we used Calacatta Vagli marble and dark Emperador marble for the walls and floors with custom vanities in a bright polished “Movingui” veneer with a special hardware. In the Powder room, we used Saint Laurent and Estremoz white marble with a vanity cabinet in treated parchment, featuring a custom glossy black mirror frame.

We continued the “Versailles parquet” flooring into the Kitchens and used light brushed oak and countertop/backsplash in Cremo Delicato marble. All doors and ceiling coves were designed especially for this project in a Hausmanian style. With an elegant handle from French decorative locksmith, Maison Fontaine. All interior staircases are spiral-shaped featuring brushed oak gray timber, and elegant wrought iron railings.

The Upper East Side has such a rich history. How did you immerse yourself in the area—in the culture—to get inspired for this project?

Our long history working in New York City, particularly on the Upper East Side, has allowed us to absorb the neighborhood’s distinctive character and spirit. We’ve been steeped in this culture so it all came very naturally.

What are some of your favorite aspects of this project?

The attention to detail throughout the building is unparalleled and rarely seen in condominium residences.  From the custom iron work to the sculptural staircase design, no element has been overlooked.

Can you tell us about any custom elements, furnishings, or creations you have made specifically for this project?

Custom design is everywhere throughout this building.  We’ve reimagined the iconic parquet de Versailles flooring in the lobby with Saint Laurent marble which creates a dramatic experience juxtaposed with French limestone wall tiles.  The kitchens were European-inspired and are outfitted with brushed oak cabinetry accessorized with chic horn pulls.

While the US is so in love with French design, savoir-faire, and style, I wonder if there is anything about American style that you appreciate?

I appreciate the practicality and relaxed nature of American style.

If you could live in this building, which space would you choose for yourself?

Of course, the best place to be is at the top; that’s the best view! Unless of course, you prefer having a beautiful garden ground floor residence. However, all of the residences offer grand layouts and their own unique views, there is something for everyone.

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