When you extend an invitation in Palm Beach, you can only guess who’s coming to dinner. “Everyone’s houses are full of guests, so when you invite a few friends over for dinner, they may end up bringing their friends, too, and a quiet get-together can quickly turn into a major affair,” says New York architect Peter Marino. “The owners of this home do a lot of entertaining, so I wanted to give them a versatile space that would be comfortable and intimate enough for four, but also be able to accommodate 200.”
To this end, Marino created three identical 5-by-5-foot palm wood tables, each of which unfolds to 20 feet in length. Aside from Marino’s own designs (the tables as well as pairs of mirrors and cabinets), however, no two items in the room are alike. Each chair, by mid-20th-century Danish designer Kaare Klint, is covered with Thai silk upholstery in a unique pattern, and all of the vases, which Danish potter Axel Salto crafted, are individually shaped to hold specific types of flowers. Even the china, by artist Michael Spiro, bears a different design on each piece. “It’s great to have people sit down and realize that everything they touch is one of a kind,” Marino says. “The lack of mechanical treatment is something that people react to very strongly.”
While the entire house displays an Indonesian-influenced aesthetic that complements the couple’s collection of Asian art, no one style dominates the dining room, which Marino describes as “sporty-elegant.” The aforementioned chairs are a mixture of Danish design and Thai silk patterns, and the thick-framed mirrors and horn-covered cabinets that Marino designed mingle with the whimsical chandeliers commissioned from French artisan Claude Lalanne.
So that the couple and their guests would feel as though they are floating on water once they enter the room, Marino surrounded it on three sides with water, placing reflecting pools adjacent to two of the exterior walls and a swimming pool next to the third. This architectural element makes it easy to create a sense of drama during dinner parties. “At night you can light floating candles in the water,” says Marino, “and instantly set the mood for a black-tie party”—or a romantic dinner for two. “The space may look exotic, but ultimately it’s about flexibility.”
Peter Marino Architect