Alexandra Champalimaud is one of the foremost designers working in the field of luxury hospitality today. A citizen of the world with a love of architecture, a penchant for tortoiseshell, and a sense of adventure, Champalimaud has brought her cosmopolitan design sense to the elegant interiors of The Kent condos, and the results are every bit as dazzling as you’d expect. Champalimaud was born and raised in Portugal, initially established her firm in Montreal, and has worked in New York for several decades. Her projects have brought her to destinations as diverse as Kuala Lumpur, where she designed the Ritz Carlton; Jakarta, Indonesia, where she worked on the Four Seasons; and Beijing, where she gave the St. Regis her signature stylish flair. Recently inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame, Champalimaud has made a name for herself giving venerable hotels like London’s Dorchester and New York City’s Pierre a fresh look that preserves their individual glamour and sense of history.
As both an expert in luxury hospitality and as a New Yorker, she brings a nuanced perspective to the design of The Kent. “Great design should be hospitable,” Champalimaud says. “I wanted The Kent to establish a new tradition on the Upper East Side by bringing a warm approachability to the elegantly appointed lobby and amenity spaces." The Upper East Side is home to many Beaux-Arts-style, limestone apartment houses dating from the turn of the century through the 1920s, and its side streets are lined with brownstones from the same period. The Kent, an Extell Development project that was designed by the architectural firm of Beyer Blinder Belle, is a new luxury building that takes a cue from its Downtown counterparts: the Art Deco towers that dominated the skyline in the 1920s and ‘30s.
But like most new projects, The Kent has 21st-century proportions on the inside. A taste for more flexible living spaces has resulted in open-plan kitchens that are outfitted with all the glamourous touches one would expect from an entertaining area because these days, that’s what kitchens are for. Still, The Kent has formal entryways and separate living and dining rooms that are suitable for more formal occasions. This adaptability is a key to modern living, allowing residents to make use of both the comfort and the sophistication of their Upper East Side condos.
Residences also have graceful double-height windows that allow natural light to flood the space during the day. Champalimaud’s design offers residents a choice of ebonized or brushed oak flooring, either of which pairs beautifully with delicate custom millwork. Kitchens have Dornbracht fittings, integrated Miele appliances, and a Sub-Zero wine refrigerator, with two color options, ivory and onyx, for the custom cabinetry. In the master bath, stylish Alexis Azul marble is accented with Bianco Dolomiti detail and accessories by the Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola.
Champalimaud’s choices for the shared spaces in The Kent reflect a sense of grandeur. The elegant, double-height lobby has an eye-catching, geometric marble floor with an inset pattern and wood-paneled walls with inlaid brass details. Antiqued mirrors with a warm, amber hue and carefully selected works of art lend an air of familiarity to this dramatic entrance area. One of The Kent’s chicest amenities, the Drawing Room, offers residents a lovely place in which to meet friends and enjoy a cocktail at the marble-topped bar beneath an exquisite gold-leafed ceiling. In the fitness center, a 55’ pool is surrounded by light-colored teak woodwork and a backlit glass sculpture wall, giving the space a spa-like atmosphere. And not to be outdone, the children’s playroom—better known as “Camp Kent”—offers Kent kids a vibrant, colorful place to explore, with a tree house, “campfire,” and picnic table. The floor is decorated to look like greenery with a stone path leading to the treehouse ladder. Champalimaud’s sense of good design often means elegance and glamour, but she also prioritizes comfort and fun for kids and grownups alike. At The Kent, interiors are as varied and intriguing as the people who inhabit them.