Designer Casey Kenyon may not yet be a household name, but he’s been working quietly behind the scenes, Zelig-like, on some of the most stellar projects AD have published in recent years. Today, with his own burgeoning business and a host of commissions on both coasts, Kenyon is at last ready for his close-up of him. His trajectory of him into the design stratosphere began after college, when Kenyon spent six years as the assistant to fashion superstar Marc Jacobs. “It was the greatest secondary education anyone could ever have. Marc has such an incredible knowledge base, not just in fashion, but in art and design. It was an education by fire—I had to learn to keep pace with his unbelievably fertile, active mind from him, ”the Virginia native says.
When Jacobs purchased a town house in Greenwich Village roughly a decade ago, Kenyon settled into the role of client rep, working alongside the fashion guru and AD100 designers Thad Hayes, John Gachot, and the late Paul Fortune. “We spent years collecting, building, perfecting,” Kenyon says of the extraordinary assignment. Once the house was complete, the designer left the Jacobs orbit for in-house roles at Gachot Studios, the office of Kelly Behun (another AD100 designer), and Apparatus, where Kenyon served as a design director. Two years ago, I have marshaled his broad experience of him in the design world and struck out on his own.
As with many young designers, Kenyon’s most compelling calling card is his own home, a parlor-floor apartment in a Brooklyn brownstone, which he shares with his partner, production designer Jonathon Beck. Deftly imbricated with color, pattern, texture, and furnishings of far-flung pedigree and provenance, the apartment strikes a delicate balance between old-school New York residential finery and contemporary decorative brio. “It was really just a white box, a blank canvas,” Kenyon recalls. “My goal was to give it a sense of depth and history, to build a narrative that reflects my sensibility as a designer as well as the way Jonathon and I want to live.”
The designer bathed the living room in Farrow & Ball’s Dead Salmon and Setting Plaster colors, creating a warm, inviting backdrop for an eclectic mélange of furnishings that features an 18th-century Flemish tapestry unexpectedly poised above a crisply tailored Milo Baughman sofa. The time-traveling mix also encompasses club chairs covered in Clarence House’s classic Jazz Age fabric Ellington, parchment-covered waterfall cocktail tables, an Oushak carpet, and a massive custom cabinet of cerused oak inspired by the work of Josef Hoffmann. The dining room is enveloped in a cocoon of panels upholstered in a mousy brown corduroy—a discreet foil to a bold Apparatus chandelier, a custom, oblong marble table attuned to the room’s diminutive proportions, and dining chairs by Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena.
The drama ratchets up in the couple’s primary bedroom, enrobed in shades of purple and burgundy, with Karl Springer lamps set on Paul Evans bedside tables, a Jules Leleu chair in Prelle fabric, and a formidable coromandel screen-cum-headboard. “That was my nod to Betty and Francois Catroux,” Kenyon says, describing the seductive ensemble. The inclusion of an African Dogon ladder represents another Catroux-approved decorative flourish.
“A home should feel considered, but not overdetermined. No matter how precisely you calculate the mix of old and new and custom pieces, a home has to feel warm and relaxed,” the designer opines. “I like to use color in nuanced ways, to find complex hues that change subtly depending on the time of day and what surrounds them,” he adds. “In the end it’s the little things, like where exactly are you going to put your cup of tea and your newspaper. If there’s anything I learned from people like Marc Jacobs and Paul Fortune, it’s that style means nothing without grace and comfort.”