He Wanted the Boldest Colors in His Home. The Reason: He’s Colorblind.

When Simon Elkaim hired an architect to redesign his Manhattan apartment, he was clear about his thoughts on color: the bolder and more vibrant, the better.

There’s a simple reason for that preference. “I’m colorblind,” said Mr. Elkaim, 69, an international real estate developer.

Specifically, he can see pure, bright colors like blues, reds and yellows, but he struggles to differentiate subtler, muddy hues. “Colors that are very close,” he said, “are very difficult for me” — including murky greens and browns, as well as grays and pinks.

He also has adventurous tastes in art and design, which has fueled a preference for interiors with sculptural forms in arresting colors.

That made Mr. Elkaim a dream client for his architect, Crina Arghirescu Rogard. “We both love extravagant design,” she said. “We realized right away that our aesthetic preferences were alike and pointed in the same direction.”

Mr. Elkaim, whose primary residence is in Switzerland, had bought the 2,400-square-foot TriBeCa condominium for $3.4 million when the building was completed in 2009, planning to use it as a pied-à-terre. But as the years passed, he went through a divorce, let his daughters live in the apartment while they attended college in New York, and married Kirsten Lewis, a New York-based actress and performance artist.

In 2019, after spending more time in Manhattan, he realized he wasn’t happy with the apartment as it was. “I was coming here from a tough divorce, I had a new wife and I wanted to have a new environment,” he said. “I also love to decorate.”

Ms. Arghirescu Rogard obliged by planning what she called “a total reconfiguration of the space.”

For the living room, she collaborated with Liz Hopkins, an artist, on wall shelves finished in fiery red lacquer and two daybeds that can dock below the shelves or be pulled out into the room. Around a red lacquered coffee table made by Francesco Balzano, she installed a royal blue chair by Max Lamb, made of polystyrene covered by a rubber polymer, and a resin stool by Floris Wubben coated in blue-and-purple epoxy.

In the kitchen, Ms. Arghirescu Rogard installed cabinetry along one wall, then added two semicircular islands in the center of the space, finishing them in polished steel on the outside and brushed steel on the inside; above the steel, curved glass rises to the ceiling.

As Ms. Lewis, 47, put it: “It looks like a spaceship.”

Above the adjacent dining table, Ms. Arghirescu Rogard hung a custom chandelier by Guillermo Santoma that mixes multicolored metal and acrylic with reflective foil and a neon sign proclaiming: “This is not art.”

But it was the new primary bathroom that received the boldest hit of color. After Mr. Elkaim and Ms. Arghirescu Rogard discovered a shared affinity for International Klein Blue, an electric color named after the artist Yves Klein, they decided there would be few things more appealing than a big bathtub in exactly that shade. To realize it, they had Facture Studio make a resin soaking tub set in a big blue block that extends from the bathroom into the primary bedroom through a metal-and-glass wall.

“I love Klein Blue,” Mr. Elkaim said.

“I love that he was open to the most courageous, brave design choices I proposed,” Ms. Arghirescu Rogard said.

Construction began in March 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, so the project faced delays that dragged the work out for more than two years. The renovated apartment was finally ready last December, at a cost of about $1.2 million.

Transitioning from a condominium with a cookie-cutter interior to a home that reflects his every preference has been worth the expense, Mr. Elkaim said. Although the result may be startling to some people, “it’s homey for me,” he said. “More and more, I feel like I’m in my cocoon when I’m in the apartment.”

Fortunately, Ms. Lewis has been just as pleased. “It’s an amazing space,” she said. “Sometimes modern apartments can be very cold, but there’s a certain warmth in this apartment. It’s cozy.”

That’s one reason they plan to spend more time in New York in the years ahead.

“Almost every month, we’re traveling,” said Mr. Elkaim, who has business interests in several countries. “But the place where we probably have the most roots right now is New York.”

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *