Kips Bay 2019 Interview with Robert Passal & Daniel Kahan

Photography by Joshua McHugh

Photography by Joshua McHugh

For more than 40 years, interior designers from all over the world have collaborated each year to transform a luxury home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The Kips Bay Decorator Show House receives as many as 15,000 guests annually from across the nation. Designers have six to seven weeks to transform their rooms for the fundraising event.

Since its inception, the Show House has raised over $21,000,000 for Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, which currently reaches over 10,000 young people at nine locations throughout New York City. Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club exists to help young people achieve their potential for growth and development utilizing our state-of-the-art facilities, trained and motivated staff, and nationally renowned programs to produce positive contributors to society.

This year, for the 47th Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House, Robert Passal and Daniel Kahan were inspired by the period between World Wars in Europe when the traditions of classicism were being blended with the more stark tenets of the International Style Modernism.  The room includes elements that were relevant at that time, such as bronze, plaster, marble, parchment, etc.

We asked Robert and Daniel about their experience working together and their many valued partners who made their living room space come to life. Here is what they had to say:


What is your favorite detail?

Robert Passal: The mantel is my favorite architectural detail in the space.  The stone and the design are equally incredible.

Daniel Kahan: My favorite detail is the interaction of the textural details in the plaster with the refined bronze picture rail.

What was it like working with each other?

RP: It was seamless.  We have a tremendous amount or respect and trust in each other.  Dan let me do my thing and I let him do his. We were both very open to each others suggestions.  This makes for an incredible collaboration.

2019_05_10 RP 0092X.jpg

DK: Our mutual trust and respect in each other’s expertise led to a truly seamless process. We instantly arrived at the inspiration and historical precedent for the space.  We collaborated on everything, while allowing each to play to their strengths.

How do you want people to feel when they enter your Kips Bay space?

RP: We have had many folks tell us that they feel transported to Paris and that they never want to leave the space.  The room evokes a sense of calm, livable sophistication.

DK: We want people to have a sense of respite; an exhalation from what can sometimes be the jarring experience of so many styles coming together in show house.  The space was conceived as a quiet space for reflection; and we have had numerous people tell us that they want to stay and relax in the space.

What was the most surprising, exciting or nerve-wracking thing about the process?

RP: All of it and the time restraints.  The plasterwork was a huge undertaking, as was the lighting installation, which was designed by Nathan Orsman.  I would say the most nerve-wracking thing was managing multiple trades who are all working in one space to complete the project on time.  We worked right until the finish line and perhaps a bit beyond.

DK: The entire process was both exciting and nerve-wracking.  We really set out to do quite a lot to the space; transforming it completely.  We asked a lot from our vendors and artisans, particularly our plaster workers, and they delivered.  Coordinating the integration of the various finishes and lighting design with so many trades working on top of each other was a challenge.  Everyone worked to their max and achieved something special.

What were the other rooms of the showhouse you enjoyed?

RP: I love the calming aesthetic of Sarah Bartholomew’s room and the classic and enveloping feeling of Peter Penoyers space.

DK: I really enjoy Sarah Bartholomew’s space for its attention to architectural detail and texture.  I also really love the bold choices Young Huh and Corey Damen Jenkins made in their spaces, and the sumptuous and reflective nature of Studio DB’s bathing space.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your eperience?

RP: We are truly grateful to all of the vendors who came through for us and continue to cheer us on.  Their generosity and support has been just incredible.

DK: It was an honor and a privilege to be asked to work on this project.  We also cannot say enough about the generosity and dedication of our vendors and artisans.  We asked a lot, and in the end, the complete collaboration of every member of the team led to something special.

2019_05_10 RP 0006X.jpg

View More Photos

About Robert:

Renowned for his unerring eye, Robert Passal, Founder and Principal of Robert Passal Interior Design, balances fine art and antiques with custom contemporary pieces to create singular interiors. Each project reflects its owner’s individuality, yet the edited tailoring of a classic, informed, and memorable designer is ever-present. From residential to retail and commercial projects, interiors take a luxe view of modern life.

About Daniel:

Raised in Augusta, Georgia, Daniel Kahan, a partner at Smith & Moore Architects in Palm Beach, Florida, grew up studying the traditional architecture of the south. He was also exposed to and informed by the modernist residential architecture practiced by his uncle in Mexico City. He has prided himself in the synthesis of classical order and form with modernist simplicity. He draws inspiration from a commitment to artistic integrity, a passion for detail, the use of fine materials, and exceptional workmanship.