This Entryway at the Kips Bay Show House Takes Wall-to-Wall Carpeting to New Heights

As a participant in this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House, New York–based designer Bennett Leifer wanted to do something that would push design boundaries, he says: “not necessarily in a way that would be loud or provocative but that would be intellectually exciting.” Leifer was previously involved back in 2015 in the annual event, for which noted designers transform a Manhattan townhouse on East 65th Street, with proceeds benefitting the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club. Soon after learning he’d be part of this year’s iteration, Leifer happened to have dinner with the team from Edward Fields Carpet Maker (who you’ll remember we worked with on our Norway x New York exhibition!). He’s worked closely with the custom luxury rug brand for years and has long admired “their heritage and their vision” – the company’s storied work has been featured in many iconic settings, including Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House in Palm Springs and the famous sunken living room of the Miller House by architect Eero Saarinen and interior designer Alexander Girard. That conversation provided the creative spark for Reframed Foyer, Leifer’s contribution to the Show House.

It’s a space that takes wall-to-wall carpet as a jumping off point and then asks: What even is a wall? Here, a wall is pretty much every surface: the floor, the stairs, a niche, the moldings, a flower vase, and a sign, made of handmade tufted carpet with metallic lurex threads. What Leifer was drawn to is the concept that Edward Fields espoused of the “fifth wall” – that the floor is the fifth wall of a room and should be treated as such. “I’m basically saying ‘Yes, sir, I agree with you’ – and can’t we have the sixth, seventh, and eighth? Can’t it all be carpet?” In that way, it’s a nod to the carpet-heavy 60s and 70s, and Leifer, who often weaves historical references into his work, is using archival designs from Edward Fields, some of which happen to come from that era. But nostalgic reenactment is not the point here. Instead, Leifer is tapping into Edward Fields’ archive and philosophy but “modernizing the techniques and the coloration to not fall into that trap.”

And it’s a total valentine to the techniques and capabilities of both the carpet-maker and the material. That includes carpet so dense it can effectively be carved like a sculpture and fashioned into door casings with a beautiful profile. And cut silk pile with a low loop grid pattern that resembles biscuit-tufting on upholstery, which Leifer used on a chair. Leifer’s goal was to learn about and translate those elements into a cohesive, fluid design vision. (Almost everything but the lighting by Visual Comfort and Mylar ceiling paper by Maya Romanoff is wrapped in carpet). The swooping curves going down the walls — the actual walls — are carried up into the ceiling with draped swags. In contrast to the soft cushiness of the material, the color palette is all gleaming metal tones: chrome, nickel, copper, oil-rubbed bronze.

While Leifer sees this as a special one-off project, it still speaks the same vernacular as the work he does for clients. “There’s a restrained elegance” with “details that unfold and that aren’t in your face,” he says. And there’s also a certain tone-setting levity to this quietly surreal entryway. You want to follow where it leads.

The Kips Bay Show House opens today and is on view through May 28.