The first project that architect Carlos Garciavelez and interior designer David Lawrence collaborated on was the gut renovation of a friend’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “There was some hesitation because we’re also a couple,” Lawrence says, but it quickly became clear that the sum of their talents was greater than what they could achieve separately. “Carlos is a trained creative, and I am an editor. Carlos has 20,000 ideas, and I’m like, ‘Slow your roll!’ ” In other words, they’re perfect creative foils.
The partners, who together run the design studio Carlos David, agree that the epitome of their synergy and their new calling card is the redesigned Upper West Side apartment they share.
The result is an incubator for long-gestating ideas that reflect their cross-disciplinary backgrounds, as well as a home for their collection of midcentury French, American, and Italian design, vintage fashion, and eclectic artwork by friends and colleagues whose careers have ascended along with their own. (Lolo the Lhasa Apso is the third resident.)
About five years ago, Lawrence and Garciavelez fell in love with the classic prewar apartment, one block from Central Park. It seduced them with original details, from the high ceilings and herringbone wood floors to the plaster walls, cove moldings, and northern, eastern, and western exposures. They completed a “modified” gut renovation and spruce-up about two years ago and had just begun demolition on the main bathroom when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to halt construction.
After the pause, they resumed the project, using the fear and inertia they experienced during the pandemic as inspiration to “make our world perfect,” Lawrence says. Work started in the living room, a space that takes in ample daylight from a bay window; less about decoration and more about curation, it now showcases prized pieces of art and furniture they’ve acquired over the years.
There are two vintage black leather Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs, gifts from Garciavelez’s father when Garciavelez graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. They also had a vintage Edward Wormley sofa on a plinth base reupholstered in woven linen. It sits under a monumental photograph of an abandoned modernist building in Argentina taken by Garciavelez during a fellowship in South America.
After working as an architect in his native Mexico and in New York, Garciavelez left the practice for stints in fashion, ultimately starting his own menswear brand. He returned to architecture but hasn’t left fashion behind. Drawing on his intimate knowledge of the talent hidden in New York City’s Garment District, he and Lawrence are developing a line of custom upholstery and fabrics. The designers’ TV room, for example, is a blush and gold cocoon swathed in a silk taffeta and gold leaf wallcovering that Garciavelez modeled after Roberto Burle Marx’s iconic tiles for his studio in Rio de Janeiro.
Similarly, the designers created an immersive dining nook in the kitchen by covering a wall and custom-made banquette in the same Thevenon canvas, featuring macaws amid a tangled jungle. Entering their handsome charcoal-hued bedroom is like walking into a well-tailored suit, with its Ralph Lauren Home cashmere-and-wool pinstripe adorning the walls.
Elsewhere, reupholstered antique pieces continue to mix with a bold pattern or unexpected detail to create discrete transitions, such as the marble-lined doorframe that separates the apartment entry from the living room.
“There’s a lot of consensus that happened here that helped us respect each other,” Garciavelez says. “You choose your battles. The result is even richer than you thought.”
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
You Might Also Like