With the completion of a two-year, $140 million development, Row NYC is now open.
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s epicenter, Times Square, the illustrious property boasts boutique like guest rooms, District M, a European express cafe by day, a Neapolitan pizza bar and cocktail lounge by night, and City Kitchen, Times Square’s first indoor food market, a nostalgic nod to the classic working kitchen with white subway tile, marble, reclaimed wood, gingham, and statement Italian glass chandeliers. Fixed steel and turquoise, and leather stools along floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking 44th Street and 8th Avenue. The view of Times Square is amazing!
I like this hotel a lot because it brings the best of NYC to travelers looking to experience modern NYC. City Kitchen sought out to bring 9 of the most buzzed about restauranteurs under one roof, visitors can experience the most crave-worthy dishes in New York without having to leave the Row NYC hotel. Heidi Avedisian is the curator and designer behind City Kitchen as well as the Ron Galella penthouse suite (located in Row NYC).
We had a chance to ask Heidi a few questions and find out where she draws her New York inspiration from.
When did you know that you wanted to be an interior designer?
I have always been interested in interiors, fashion, architecture, but since I was trained as a journalist, I spent many years focused on writing and editing. The irony is that good design is just a long series of editing. Start with everything and then slowly take things away, I call it “shaving”. It’s very similar to writing in that respect.
That being said, I was always the person who would walk into the worst hotel room and say “Hey guys just a second, give me a hand, it will be so much better if we just move this chair over here and rearrange the lamps!”
How did you become involved with Row NYC, and why should people stay in your
suite when visiting or staycationing?
I got involved two years ago when I was brought on to develop their internal food and beverage concept which became District M. It serves as a patisserie in the morning —with pastries from some of New York City’s finest purveyors including Balthazar, Payard and Pain D’Avignon — and a Neapolitan pizza bar/lounge in the evening. We do hand stretched pizzas that people are shocked don’t come from a wood burning oven.
The design of the space is dominated by a large scale digital gallery of black and white photos from the famed Ron Galella, the first true paparazzo and a New York icon (lots of Jackie O,Studio 54 etc). That little bit of 70s and 80s rock-n-roll vibe pervades the hotel, particularly in the Ron Galella suite.
People really love and respond to what feels glamorous, and that’s not necessarily the same as luxurious, but something different from their everyday lives and environment. I think everyone wants a fantasy, especially when on vacation. In the suite, the skin rug, Missoni pillows, mirrored
alcoves and bar, gleaming cut crystal and white leather sofas and sexy palms all just scream “glamour.”
Before joining the team at Row NYC, what are some other hotels or projects you
I actually had not worked in the hospitality industry prior to Row NYC, but only residential design. The challenges are slightly different in that things need to stand the test of time with such high volume usage. Beyond that, my approach remains relatively the same. Have a philosophy and intention behind what you design and stay true to it. Too many rooms suffer from a real identity crisis. When you walk into City Kitchen for example, it feels exactly as it should… no more no less. It’s modern and nostalgic at the same time. It’s crisp and utilitarian with leather seating, marble slabs, white subway tile and stainless steel. And yet it is also classic and reminiscent with its warm lighting, butcher block, silvered mirror and fresh cut branches…all the things that make us want
to never leave. At home, no matter how many beautiful spaces I try to shuffle my dinner guests into, they always return to the kitchen like moths to a flame. I wanted to capture that feeling.
When tackling a new project, what is most important to you?
Simply, that people love it. That it doesn’t feel forced. That is feels eclectic and interesting and authentic, whatever the venue. That above all else, it feels welcoming.
What was the worst job you have ever had?
Always always always doing my own places. It’s so much easier to do it for someone else. We are all our own worst critics. That being said, your construction team can change your life…for the better or for the worse. I will leave it at that.
Do you see change happening within the Hotel industry? And, if so what?
For sure! People are less turned on by the large-scale chain hotels and they are gravitating toward what feels original, authentic and boutique, in all aspects, including the desire for inspired programming and amenities. This is why we created City Kitchen, Time Square’s first interior food market. We are also currently developing a Spin Studio in the Row NYC hotel, as well as a blow dry bar.
What are the qualities you believe a successful designer must posses?
Some designers just have their signature “look”. And it works to some extent. To me, you need to have some range.
Do you have any advice for designers who aspire to do what you do and as well as
you do it?
Identify your style and don’t be afraid to be an original…or a classic for that matter. Study proportion and scale and get that part right. It’s the hardest to do and the easiest to get wrong. I have become much more modern over the years which is a natural reaction, I think, to having three children and a house strewn with Barbies and Nerf guns and junk everywhere. But it’s important to know the classics and why they work. Study the old masters in textiles…Bruschwig and Fils, Clarence House, Scalamandre, Ralph Lauren, Fortuny…my mom and I call them “old friends”. And travel as much as possible, whether it’s with a backpack down in the Bayou or in your Manolo’s heading off to Milan… it all changes your perspective in so many ways and it’s impossible not be
surprised and inspired when stepping outside of your comfort zone.
My homes are the tapestry of my travels and it makes the design so much more complex and meaningful! And it sounds like such a cliche, but it’s like everything in life… if you have true passion
for what you are doing, you will find success. Passion isn’t just being interested in or enjoying something, mind you… it’s the fire that won’t be put out!
In addition to the fantastic decor there is some fantastic food and drinks! City Kitchen is home to some of the best restaurants from Manhattan to Brooklyn; where you can get dynamic dishes including: The Manhattan roll from Azuki sushi; dulce de leche doughnuts by Dough; lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster; Whitmans’ “Juicy Lucy” burger; duck shawarma from ilili Box; Gabriela’s fish tacos; and ramen bowls by Kuro Obi. Additionally, Wooly’s shaved snow and Sigmund’s pretzels will debut as the market’s seasonal vendors, keeping City Kitchen as vibrant and imaginative as the hotel it resides in.
District M has a lot to offer as well. The cocktails are some f the best in the city! Check out some of their cocktails below:
M IS FOR MAURIZIO
Prosecco campari lemon
Prosecco blood peach puree
NOT JUNIOR’S SMOOTHIE
El dorado rum cream spiced rum crème de banana vanilla cassis YOU’RE ON VACATION 15 El dorado 12 year rum lime juice pineapple juice orgeat coconut water
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
Vodka ao dirty blue cheese olives GENTLEMAN’S CLUB 16 McKenzie rye contratto rosso cherry angostura bitters black cherry
ACE OF SPADES
Le morton calvados lime juice jack rudy grenadine
Greenhook american dry gin lemon juice giffard framboise
Pierre ferrand ambre giffard curacao triple sec lemon juice
SHADES OF GREEN
Russian diamond vodka giffard pomplemouse rosé lemon juice pernod absenthe sparkling rosé
Brooklyn gin nuestra soledad mezcal lustau olorosso bigallet amer china-china bitterman’s celery shrub
Row NYC is located at 700 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10036. Visit rownyc.com.