BNO Design Blog

Tracie Martyn

Every time I run across this image by Antoine Bootz of the fabulous Tracie Martyn skin care salon, I smile. It elicits such beautiful “emotions”.

The way our signature sheers “suspend reality” by diffusing the views across Fifth Avenue, the sculptural silhouette chairs in periwinkle blue, the welcoming custom settee and chair originally designed for Mondrian LA, the baluster table, custom ABYU Lighting feather and mica shade over a vintage Venetian glass floor lamp,…

Ah, what a calm and serene space!


Christian de Portzamparc

It’s interesting to see how famous architects design gorgeous buildings for which interior designers have to deal with odd interior spaces. The first time I saw these apartments for the rental market, called Prism, I could not believe the shapes and the weird proportions. The Master Bedroom is larger than the Living Room. The Guest Bedroom doesn’t have a parallel wall in sight and so on.

However, after actually focusing on designing the interiors, I came to realize what interesting spaces these angle walls and columns made.

For the larger apartment featured in this image, we decided to paint all walls and ceiling in a light lavender to contrast with the darker texture of the buildings across the street and give the interior a fresh feeling, like ice. We installed a round carpet to organize the space and “push the walls away”. The Dining area was moved to the corner window which seems to “hover” above  28th street. The result is an amazing corner in which you can sit at night and have an elegant candlelight dinner or a great cup of coffee in the morning. Because non of the walls are parallel, you don’t really feel the claustrophobia that is so common in  small apartments. The sofa fabric matches the wall which makes it blend into the wall color. A clear acrylic chair and a mirror coffee tables almost disappear. All and all, it was a great learning experience.

I do love these apartments!


beach house

There’s no house I love  designing the most than a beach house.

I was born in a hospital in Condado, PR that is right on the beach. My mother’s window overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. I grew up between Guaynabo and Luquillo Beach, spending all our weekends and most of the summer at the beach. I love the beach, although I have a love hate relationship with the sand, go figure! 

When designing a beach house, practicality is key. Believe it or not, the house featured in this image and the future cover of my my new book with Linda O’Keeffe, Suspending Reality, is all white. And it’s all white because you can clean it! When the materials are attached, they are either very high quality vinyl or leather. Everything else is white cotton that can be removed and washed in the washing machine at home. And if you care to hose the the house down, that’s good too. As a matter of fact, that was my mother’s favorite way to clean our homes when we were growing up in PR (we move several times which gave us the chance to redecorate). Therefore, don’t be afraid of white. It’s the most practical color there is.


30 Vesey

Now that we settled in the our new office space in the Financial District, it’s time to stat revealing the new look. Although we miss SoHo, this office feels more like a home than the other one. Take a look at the sample room, for instance. Sexy, right?


Goodbye 75 Spring Street

It was 20 years ago when my dear friend Rhett asked me to move into the 6th floor of 75 Spring Street, which had become available all of a sudden. He was on the 5th floor and needed more space but not the entire floor. I was working out of an apartment in the same building where I was living on west 43rd street and honestly, had not even thought about moving because it was so convenient to live and work in the same building. Rhett convinced me by assuring that if we move to this location, we would get better and larger projects. Brian Boyle offered to share some of the space with us and he made the whole thing possible. Of course, the rent was 1/3 of what we pay now… Once we moved in, things changed and in retrospect having worked for a handful of celebrity clients, designed half a dozen hotels and produced projects worldwide, Rhett was right! 

When we moved to 75 Spring there was no Balthazar, no MoMa store, no Starbucks, no tourists, no Prada, no Chanel, not even Doc Marteens! Crosby street was a dump. After we completed 30 Crosby for our dear friend Ed Baquero, everything changed in the area. After working with Lenny Kravitz, more celebrities came in:  Damon Dash, Rachel Roy, Sean “Diddy” Combs. Even the ones that ended up not hiring us were fun to meet:  Courtney Love, Tyra Banks, David Coppefield, Tina Fey… After we completed Mondrian SoHo which completed the street conversion into a chic private enclave, it’s time for us to move.

We decided to give downtown a try and now we are moving to 30 Vesey Street, on the same street as the new World Trade Center tower, whatever name they decide nowadays to give it. If it’s good enough for Conde Nast, we figure it’s good enough for us!  Our new space overlooks St. Paul’s church and the new Calatrava designed train station entrance. As soon as it’s done, we’ll post pictures and invite everyone over to celebrate.

Let’s hope that this new old neighborhood can bring us the same luck that we had here in SoHo. In the meantime, it’s hard to say goodbye to our friends in the area. We’ll miss you.

Benjamin