Tuxedo Park

Tulip Chairs provide the modern counterpoint to a collector's treasures

Michael Bruno, founder of 1stdibs and Housepad App, is a fastidious man with exacting tastes: he knows what he wants and he knows where he wants it. At his house in Tuxedo Park, everything has a place, not to mention a story of far-flung acquisiton. By his own admission, Bruno's approach to interiors deviates somewhat from that of a professional. “The rooms are very collected, not decorated,” Bruno stresses, “a decorator looks at a space and then imagines what should be bought to go in it. I buy things I love and then I find a place to put them." The "place" is a 14,000-square-foot mansion, built in 1900 and co-designed by John Russell Pope, responsible for the Jefferson Memorial. After seeing the property for the first time, Bruno waited exactly twenty minutes before making an offer.

Michael Bruno in Tuxedo Park, New York | Knoll Inspiration

Photograph by François Halard.

Collecting runs in Bruno's DNA, "Natural collectors don't even think about it, they just collect." The fourth of six children, Bruno was surrounded by what he describes as "robust" furniture—in other words, heavy antiques. Raised in Upstate New York, Bruno was equally influenced by the region's old and storied houses, which led him to subsequently pursue a career as a real estate agent in San Francisco. Bruno was in the city during the first dot-com bubble, so many of his clients were newly minted millionaires and in the market for century-old mansions. He had the opportunity to travel frequently, to cities like Bruges, Antwerp and Paris, all known for their vintage markets home to treasures and rare artifacts. 1stdibs was forged from these two joint experiences, but ultimately hatched while Bruno walking through the Clignancourt flea market in the 18th arrondissement, trying to figure out how best to get connect European supply with stateside demand.

Michael Bruno in Tuxedo Park, New York | Knoll Inspiration

“A decorator looks at a space and then imagines what should be bought to go in it. I buy things I love and then I find a place to put them.”

—Michael Bruno

Photograph by François Halard.

Among Bruno’s own collection of rare pieces and eccentric oddities—Joseph Cornell-style taxidermied dioramas, plastic camel busts and six-foot-long resin tusks abound in the residence—a prolific number of Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Armless Chairs provide a clean, modern counterpart to his prized antiques. "The Tulip Armless Chair is not only a classic that can go anywhere, but, for me, the most comfortable chair ever designed," says Bruno. In his informal work area, three Tulip Armless Chairs have been upholstered with zebra hide and paired with a modernist table, providing an appropriate point of contrast to the room's all-white wainscoting and dark veneered floors. The same chairs reside in the dining room, in front of a painted seascape. "I have a hard time sitting still for very long," Bruno explains, "so the fact that I can swivel during a long dinner makes me very happy."

Michael Bruno in Tuxedo Park, New York | Knoll Inspiration

“For me, the Tulip Armless Chair is the most comfortable chair ever designed.”

—Michael Bruno

Photograph by François Halard.

Not surprisingly, much of the furnishings in Bruno's home, including the Tulip Armless Chairs, have been sourced using 1stdibs as a resource. The rest predate the website, harking back to a time when Bruno had to work the old fashioned way, by networking with dealers and sellers. While Tuxedo Park is one of many properties in Bruno's portfolio, according to him, it's the only one that feels like home. 

Project Credits:

Interior Design: Windsor Smith
Photography: François Halard

 

Tulip Armless Chair