In describing the magnificent Vendome 17A John Bobbitt, Interior Designer, says,"17A at The Vendome in Dallas is unquestionably one of the most beautiful, finely crafted high rise apartment residences in the city. The clients called on me in the summer of 2002. They'd built several homes around the country and were veterans of fine design and construction. In our first meeting, she told me she'd always wanted a New York apartment but had no desire to live in New York. We decided on an updated, tailored version of Beaux Arts Classicism as our starting point and went from there. What we ended up with was interior haute couture in wood, stone and bronze, thanks to the dedication and passion of the client. The entire interior is at once monumental, serenely beautiful, private, intimate and comfortable.
A full year was spent in the design phase with the architect, interior designer and client working very closely on all details. All designs, specifications, materials and finishes were finalized before construction began. Construction lasted two years, so all tolled, this was a three year project. We were able to assemble a design and construction dream-team consisting of myself, architect Ralph L. Duesing, general contractor Crowbar Constructors owned by Cole Smith Jr., and Barry Martin of the legendary Barry Martin Paint Contractors. All wood and plaster surfaces are heirloom furniture grade finishes executed by the Martins.
The apartment consists of a formal progression of rooms. The stone floors and countertops throughout are a combination of Lagos Azul- a grey stone similar to that seen throughout Renaissance buildings in Florence- and Absolute Black. All stone surfaces are honed to mellow the tones and produce a timeless finish. The Absolute Black appears as a deep charcoal grey. The repetition of materials and colors throughout the unit create a unified, serenely beautiful interior. There is nothing flashy or glitzy in the home- it is a thousand year interior.
One first enters through the private elevator vestibule made of Texas Cream limestone walls and a stone floor with bronze insets. Next, pass through the solid bronze and glass entry doors (inspired by a New York bank- the client was a retired banker) to the Formal Entry Hall. This room continues the stone floor theme and has formal paneling with a carved frieze painted linen white. Interesting to note that as you pass from room to room, there is a deliberate light-dark-light progression that subtly defines and announces each space.
Arguably the most interesting and unique room is the South Vestibule: This is a round room with four pedestal niches built to house the clients' collection of important antique globes and sculpture. The ceiling is a functioning cosmological clock- a series of rings indicate the time, days of the week, months, zodiac and phases of the moon. Noted local artist Jane Athey spent nearly a year executing the artwork for the clockwork rings in the ceiling.
The Living Room is paneled in solid ebonized walnut and has approximately twelve foot ceilings- the 17th floor of the Vendome is the only floor other than the penthouse floors where ceilings above ten feet are possible because of a larger crawl space beneath the penthouse floor. The non-functional fireplace is made of massive Lagos Azul carved in Portugal and is beautiful set with candles and large quartz stones. The doors are solid crotch mahogany with a time intensive, traditional french polished finish. The wood floors are solid Wenge- a rare african wood used in artisanal furniture and also to make poison darts in Africa. With a simple wax finish it is the color of black-plum.
The Formal Powder Room design is based on a pair of 18th Century Mirrored Venetian corner cabinets I'd seen in Paris at Bernard Steinitz a few years before. The paneling for this room is made of antique mirrored plate glass with cast green-glass panel moldings. The faucet and sink are restrained Sherle Wagner in buff platinum finish. Past this room is His Study which opens out onto a large terrace shared with the living room. There are six terraces surrounding the apartment, all paved in custom Ann Sacks diamond pattern terracotta finish tiles.
Off the Living Room is a small, cozy library also paneled in ebonized walnut with it's own terrace overlooking Turtle Creek. Of special note is the custom bookshelf lighting system inside the shelves.
The Master Bedroom also takes advantage of the higher ceilings of the 17th floor with an elegant plaster barrel arch supported by ebonized massive walnut columns, bookcases and upholstered walnut panels. His Bath features an extraordinary nickel plated bronze and onyx partition. Her Bath features blond anigre paneling with ebonized walnut stick moldings and bronze french doors. Hidden in the paneling is a fall-front dressing table with fitted compartments. All of the above rooms comprise the South Wing of the unit. Returning to the Formal Entry Hall, to the left as one enters is the North Wing.
The North Wing is comprised of the Alcove, Media Closet, Dining Room Vestibule, Dining Room, Drawing Room (with full bath to double as a guest room) Laundry, Butler's Pantry, Kitchen and Breakfast Room.
The Dining Room is a Boulle marquetry design based on late 17th Century french furniture models of ebony inlaid with tortoise shell and pewter. No turtles were harmed in the making of this room. The marquetry panels were executed for us by Gorman Studios of Vancouver. The panels were built in place, disassembled, crated and shipped to their studios for the multilayer process. The panels were returned with a team of artists for final installation and touch up. The east wall of the dining room hinges to create a large opening to the drawing room where a second dining table can be placed for large gatherings. The south wall of the dining room has a removable panel that allows for large furniture and art to enter the apartment from the service elevator. Gorman also executed the faux-marquetry perspective in the Living Room which is based on a Renaissance period room in the Metropolitan Museum in New York (The Studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro). The original design was drawn by the Ralph Duesing- interesting to note that the horizon line in this painting lines up with the horizon line of Dallas out the adjacent window.
The Butler's Pantry and Kitchen are solid bleached walnut with the same dark wenge flooring. The architect's design for the Butler's Pantry turned an otherwise useless hallway into clever and attractive storage for several sets of china and stemware. The dining room and kitchen share a large terrace. The Kitchen counters are brushed Absolute Black granite. The vent hood over the range is solid bronze with a museum finish."
Architect: Ralph L. Duesing
(click on images for enlarged view)