Undoubtedly, an architect is most thankful to his or her clients. In my case, each client has experienced a special relationship with my firm. The roster of clients that has given me the chance to show my talent is long; I can only mention a few. To Debbie and Bob Gordon who helped me start the process. To John Balfe who flew a thousand miles to enlist my services. And to all who believed it is possible to hire an architect who would also be their decorator; and for sure to all of the repeat clients who tirelessly come back looking for better design solutions.

I am indebted to the team of architects and designers and assistants who worked at my office, especially the senior staff of Ricardo Bastos Areias, Bruno Campos, Rodolfo Reis Dias, Vinicio Montegan, Mark Naden, Ilan Ohayon, Juan Rodriguez, Filipa Tomaz and Barry Yanku, all of whom share in the leadership of the business today. To the project associates whose contribution has been phenomenal, David Bench, Jared Bertels, Ben Carr, Natalie Cheng, Barbara Fernandes, Meghan Ford, Aiva Jabbour, Michael Lee, Angela Lewandoski, Tony Maniaga, Sebastian Munoz, Karim Musfy, Maria Luis Neiva, Tyler Nelson, Narin Nuth, Timothy Overstreet, Ankur Patel, Claudia Ponce, Guillermo Reekstin, Roque Rey, Christopher Ruel, Melissa Santana, Edward Sheng, Vaughn Slovak, Richard Truscott, Harry Westbrook and Brian Wiedemann, without them, my professional growth would not have been possible. I am thankful to my office manager Lou Asselin whose dedication in French, Spanish and English has been beyond expectations; to Phil Amrbosino, Sabrina Hamady, Jeff Beitler and Steve Goldstein, whose professional guidance helped shape the business.

The work would not have been possible without the help of our consultants here in New York and worldwide, to our associate architects, Doug Cutsogeorge, Victor Famulari and Mark Henderson of Nassau, Bahamas, Santiago Luis Sanchez Elia of Buenos Aires, Argentina; to our structural engineers, Dr Heino Ainso, Marie Ennis and Nat Oppenheimer at Robert Silman Associates; to our MEP engineers, Joseph Woods, Mark Velzy and John Maire; to our lighting designers, William Armstrong and Mark Jacksen of San Francisco, Noha Mohsen of Cairo, Egypt, to our website and graphic designers, Marcos Chavez, Ann-Kari Lejon, Janet Kim and Yadilka Frias; to Charles Hollis-Jones of Los Angeles, Thomas Bourgneuf and Fouad Boustany of Paris, France; and to Ken Morrow.

I want to thank all of the builders and craftsmen who have tirelessly contributed to ensuring the highest quality work; to Greg D’Angelo, Mark Asproyerakas, Gordon Douglas Rory McCreesh, Breandan Timothy and Mickey McCreesh of Duce Construction, John Mankin, Pinkney Mikell, Phillip Schappert, Randy Polumbo of 3D Lab, Guy Warren and Matt McDonagh of Tower Contracting. To the amazing craftsmen: precision cabinetmakers, stone masons, fabric installers, antique dealers and decorative painters, and to only list a few, Jose Luis Antunes of Lisbon, Portugal, the late Senor Badi of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Filippo Berta, Sylvain Frey, Mike O’Boy, Robert Cappa, Michel Baladi, Eva Buchmuller, Appley Hoare, Joseph Brentano, Richard Smith, and Evan Lobel. To the beautiful and artistic floral arrangements of L’Olivier Floral Atelier in New York.

To my late aunt Issam Take whose stellar career as the decorator for the Queen of Saudi Arabia in the sixties planted a seed in me and cemented my inspiration. To my cousin Omar, whose Fulbright-Hays fellowship at M.I.T. further excited me about this noble profession. I am duly grateful to Atef Tabet who in the winter of 1978, and when all architectural students can think of was either Mies van der Rohe or Le Corbusier, introduced me to few important books, “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture”, “Delirious New York” and “The New York Five.” I had no idea at the time that I will spend the following years studying and working for two of the New York Five. I am indebted to Michael Graves for teaching me subtlety and the aesthetics of the sublime, for Peter Eisenman, the great thinker who made me challenge the norm. To my dear and distinguished friend Robert Couturier who made me believe it is possible to be an architect and a decorator. To my guardian angel Yossi Friedman… I am thankful to Charles Baskett who showed me the way during my early years in Manhattan; to Robert Maxwell, the dean at Princeton who with his jovial ways, made it all possible ; to Tony Vidler and K Michael Hays who re-introduced Mies as the surrealist and inspired me to design the mise-en-scene for Alban Berg’s opera Lulu. I also thank the artist Barnaby Ruhe who dared me to moderate a symposium on architecture and Cinema which panel included few of my classmates, Stan Allen, Greg Lynn, Edward Mitchell, the late Penny Yates, and the artist Peter Fend. I am thankful to Frederic Levrat whose sense of humor made it easier to sustain the slow computers when we collaborated on the Emory Blank Center for the Arts at Eisenman; to Calvin Tsao whom I named my firstborn after, to my colleague James McCrery for his eloquence and mastery of design; to Vincio Montegan who is born with a sense of proportion like no other. To my oldest colleague Georges Roumieh whose passion for design is unequalled and truly inspiring. To my dear friend and colleague Christian Zapatka whose faith, dedication and humility mixed with an indelible sense of humor made it easier during the Princeton days. To my dear late friends Leslie Mason and Ruth Litoff who affected my life and gave so much to art and architecture but never lived long enough to see it mature. To the London based artist Charles Foster-Hall and architect Christopher Smallwood; to Rod Winterrowd for the numerous collaborations; to Marcus Jelley, and to the Rev Gregory Johnson.

I finally dedicate this volume to my family. To my sisters Rania, May and Inas whose support has been unwavering; to my eldest son Calvin whose understanding of world affairs and history is inspiring and to the younger Charles who can easily mix urban coolness with Bach and Beethoven. To my partner Sabine Ohler, whose love, moral support and encouragement have been exemplary and never waned a second since we started.

Photography Credits

Dream House, East River, Midtown, Duplex, FiDi



Portrait of Selim Koder

Victorian, Hotel Buenos Aires




Hotel Buenos Aires

Upper East



Design Credits



Music Credits