“Palestinian cultural heritage has a lot of motifs and textures and uses natural elements; these influences are present in my work,” begins Ahmad AbouZanat, who was born in Qatar, grew up in Lebanon and is now based in New York City where he founded PROJECT AZ. “Growing up in Lebanon, where the architecture and design have so many historical and geographical influences, gave me the confidence not to hesitate when it comes to juxtaposition.” This precise approach is reflected through AbouZanat’s latest project, a 165-square metre, two-bedroom apartment designed for a couple who wanted to preserve the modernity and minimalist aesthetic of the space while introducing a colourful and airy feel.
Situated on the 21st floor of a modern building nicknamed Jenga — a nod to the wooden block stacking game — in the hip neighbourhood of Tribeca, which is known for its industrial buildings and cobblestone streets, the space came to life during challenging times. “This was my first time working with these clients and the relationship was great throughout the whole process, even if we had to deal with Covid restrictions, which made things much more complicated,” AbouZanat recalls. “The homeowners were very understanding and supportive.”
For their first apartment together, the couple were able to align their aesthetic thanks to the interior designer’s help and expertise. “The objective consisted of finding pieces that would speak to them equally, and finding ways to balance the selection,” AbouZanat says. For the colours, he worked on bringing the spirit of the neighbourhood into the modern apartment. “Tribeca’s industrial buildings are mostly characterised by their exterior in brick (red and yellow). Some of them are older than others, with wood nailer or iron oxide wash, among other architectural features. Although these elements were not necessarily at the forefront of my conversation with the clients, I had them in mind to develop the colour scheme, introduce different materials and create contrasts. A lot was achieved with the furniture selection and the rest was brought in via the sculptural accessories we chose for the apartment.”
The material palette includes wood, concrete and steel mixed with suede, leather and glass. “My approach to design is always to introduce a subtle shift and change between textures to provide a dynamic scenario within the space,” AbouZanat says.
In the living room, a sofa from ABC Home faces a Noguchi coffee table and an Utrecht armchair from Cassina. All these pieces sit on a Stark Carpet rug. In the dining room, Poltrona Frau chairs surround the Arc table from Molteni & C, while the Discus Pendant 3 ceiling light by Matter Made hangs above them. For the master bedroom, AbouZanat chose the L50 Cab Bed from Cassina with 5050 nightstands from Molteni & C, a Signal table lamp from Souda, a Jube table lamp from Vistosi via 1stDibs and curtains by The Shade Store.
In the different areas of the apartment, southwest-facing windows let an abundance of natural light in, highlighting the open feel and maximising the urban views. The artwork selection and placement – curated through the Thomas Nickles Project gallery – also play an important role in adding character to the space, in particular the pieces above the yellow sleeper Capriccio sofa from Natuzzi in the guest and TV room. In the foyer, which is adorned with an Aisle console table by BoConcept, is a vintage classic Biedermeier Blossom Back Hall chair in walnut and a Synthesis Jubilee rug by Stark Carpet, the work of artist Erin Shirreff – purchased through Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery – which is a statement sculptural piece that immediately pops when one enters the apartment. “This home is a series of warm, cosy and colourful moments one can experience [while] transition[ing] from one space to another,” AbouZanat notes.
Now that the Big Apple has fully reopened, AbouZanat is already busy with new projects, including a partial renovation and furnishing project in Tribeca. “I am mostly excited about the bar area addition to the space and how we are giving each one of the three bedrooms its own personality,” he says. “I also have another fun furnishing project in Chelsea, where my client is open to introducing different colours throughout the apartment, which is one of the design elements I am particularly interested in working with.”
Since moving to New York a decade ago, AbouZanat has found his way in the city, both personally and professionally. “It took me a few years to be in a place where I could take a chance and give it a try – a decision I am grateful for every day,” he says.
Photography by: David Mitchell Styling by: Mieke Ten Have