New York City Ballet goers will be treated to a healthy dose of design this season. The NYCB commissioned three New York–based studios to create seating areas for the Promenade level of the David H. Koch Theater, allowing attendees to mingle in legendary architect Philip Johnson’s "jewel box" before each performance. Asher Israelow, Egg Collective, and Token were selected to take on the project and each produced collections worthy of the iconic space.
The three studios worked independently, but their shared inspiration led to a cohesive collection. Drawing on the architecture of the modern space as well as opulent materials found throughout the iconic building helped to create a similar aesthetic, but each designer added a personal touch of whimsy when incorporating their interpretation of the ballet into their work.
Design trio Egg Collective—Crystal Ellis, Stephanie Beamer, and Hillary Petrie—coyly played on the jewel box–theme of the theater by creating “furniture as a piece of jewelry for the space.” Studying the geometry of ring settings, they formulated modular, coral velvet–covered benches ballet-goers can rearrange as they please. Seeking to be “reverent but also new” the designers matched the red velvet to the accents in the Promenade's marble floors. Adding brass tables with a hand-applied satin finish to the mix, Egg’s pieces serve as a life-size tangram capable of accommodating all types of attendees from the solo visitor to large groups.
Token’s “non-rectangle” table tops drew unexpected inspiration from the ballet dancers themselves. While fluid ethereal dance movements may first come to mind, designers Will Kavesh and Emrys Berkower thought of the “geometric formation of the dancers” from a bird’s eye view. Each table leg is different and mimics the legs of “dancers on point.” The chairs are Token production items, but the pair used new materials to coordinate with the space. Bleached maple arms on the chairs and oxblood-hued leather on the stool seat backs pull from the floor and a subtle finish of gold bolts complete the pieces.
With a background in architecture, designer Asher Israelow found the duty of furnishing the Philip Johnson–designed space a most prestigious challenge. “He’s such a large name in architecture and design. Thinking about what I would place in one of his buildings when he designed all of his own furnishings definitely drew me out of what I would normally have done.” The dotted brass inlays found on each table top in Israelow’s collection sing on their own but the story of their placement creates an "aha" moment. Each table’s inlays correspond to a star map of a specific place, date, and time of significance to the New York City Ballet. The largest table portrays the debut of Serenade, the first ballet choreographed in the United States by NYCB founder George Ballanchine. Israelow aimed to create pieces that would “all be the same stylistically, but tell different stories on their own.”
The Promenade is open to guests one hour before curtain, allowing enough time to linger in gems from some of New York’s best designers before taking in a breathtaking ballet set in a lifesize jewelry box. The season’s schedule can be seen at nycballet.com.