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If Walls Could Talk: Interior Designers of The Carlyle Hotel

Located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan’s Upper East Side overlooking Central Park, the Carlyle Hotel is a true New York City landmark. Built by Moses Ginsberg, maternal grandfather of Rona Jaffe and designed by architects Sylvan Bien and Harry M. Prince, was completed in 1930. Although Art Deco is the predominant architectural style, the decor and furnishings reflect a number of different style periods. There isn’t the strict adherence to angular forms and shapes associated with European Art Deco in its purist sense. Its refined interior style is owed to a great roster of designers, including one of the ‘First Ladies of Interior Design’, Dorothy Draper. Draper was born to a wealthy and privileged family in 1889, in one of the most exclusive communities in American History, Tuxedo Park. She was also the first to ‘professionalize’ the interior design industry by establishing, in 1923, the first interior design company in the United States. Until then, it was completely unheard of, not to mention, daring for a woman to go into business for herself. Her confidence, as much as her taste, gave her the ability to take control of a hotel project in all aspects of design – right down to the designs for the menus, matchbook covers and the staff uniforms. Her dictum was “if it looks right, it is right.”

Another Carlyle legend was Mark Hampton, designer of the hotel’s dining room and many suites and rooms for the hotel. Hampton’s vision was carried out in the 1980’s, but much of his design is still in intact today. Many remember his trademark expression “I have absolutely no interest in a trademark style”. His interiors were formal without ever looking stuffy, the tonality patrician rather than ponderously rich—“a nice, undercooked look,” he called it, going on to add that “the single greatest vulgarity in interior decoration is pretentiousness.” His daughter, Alexa Hampton, carries on the legacy of Mark Hampton, LLC.

Some other brilliant Carlyle renovations were led by Thierry Despont, architect, designer and artist. Born and raised in France, Mr. Despont is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts of Paris and holds a degree of Master of City Planning and Urban Design from Harvard University. You can experience his work in many extravagant areas of the hotel including the Lobby and One-of-a-Kind Empire Suite. This suite is just like a self- sufficient house having three bedrooms with king size beds, separate lounge and working area, a fully stocked kitchen and a private museum curated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The jewel of the collection is a picture taken by Berenice Abbott, which is called “New York at Night”. The floors of the suite are done in chessboard style and walls are wrapped in cashmere. This amazing suite is rumored to cost around $15,000 per night.

Alexandra Champaulimaud has more than a decade long-love affair with creating bespoke interiors for suites 3001, 1511, 507, 1207 and The Royal Suite. Many Carlyle Suites are often used as long-term residences by celebrities visiting or working in New York. The suites are very chic and exuberant, yet reflective of Hollywood’s golden age and still very ‘New York’.

Overall, the interior is very warm and bathes you in soft intimate lighting. Large classical paintings provide an air of timeless stability, blending the old with the new in a serene embrace. Highly polished stone floors and staircases relate more to the earlier Art Nouveau movement, with baroque accessories add character to the design scheme.

Alive is the golden age in Café Carlyle with backdrop murals of Marcel Vertès and a sountrack that is classic cabaret. An intimate space that exudes class and charm. And to complete the Manhattan experience, is the Art Deco legacy of the Bemelman’s Bar. Ludwig Bemelmans was a well-known successful artist for The New Yorker, Vogue and Town and Country and had achieved enormous success with the Madeline children’s books series. Brown leather banquettes, nickel trimmed black glass tabletops, a dramatic black granite bar and a 24-karat gold leaf covered ceiling transport socialites, world leaders, celebrities and guests to a gathering place that is elegantly whimsical and sophisticated.

Whether your first time, or your 33rd, the atmosphere of The Carlyle will delight all your senses, charming the most discerning clientele.

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