For more than 20 years, Andres Escobar, founder and principal of Andres Escobar & Associes, has been a leader in cutting-edge interior design in Montreal, Toronto, Europe and Asia. With a broad base of clients that encompass corporate, retail, restaurant and hospitality, airport and residential sectors, Mr. Escobar brings a distinct sensitivity to his projects. Although new to the New York design scene, he has already begun to receive recognition and acclaim through such high profile residential condominium projects as The Chelsea Club and The Gretsch Building.
The international designer was born and raised in Colombia, South Amercia. He moved to Montreal in 1980 to study engineering and, ostensibly, improve his English language skills. But much to his engineer father’s initial chagrin, he changed his major to interior design, met his wife-to-be and elected to make the move to Montreal permanent. After graduating with honors from Montreal’s Dawson College, he quickly found work with an interior design firm that specialized in retail projects. He began designing for such retail chains as Jacob, Timberland and Contempo Casuals. The success of the stores lead to larger retail projects and eventually designing interiors of shopping malls.
But after nearly 10 years of studying and working for others, primarily designing for retailers, he decided to branch out and broaden his base. Andres Escobar & Associes was founded in 1989 and soon became one of Montreal’s leading interior design firms with its daring and innovative approaches to restaurants like Kaizen, Tree House, Vargas and Le Renoir at The Sofitel, as well as The Vasant Hotel. His design of the Guess? flagship store in Toronto’s busiest shopping district received the kind of media attention that surpassed expectations and branded Mr. Escobar’s firm as a household name throughout Canada. Highlighted by a dramatic winding staircase of brushed glass and steel, the Guess? store appealed to more than its target youth market and became a much used backdrop for fashion shows.
In 2003, Mr. Escobar was recommended by architect Karl Fischer to design the interiors of an exciting renovation in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called The Gretsch Building. A former circa 1913 factory, it was being converted into a 130-unit, luxury condominium. The developers interviewed many of New York’s finest designers, but emphasized they wanted a design that would reinforce the building’s history, while at the same time projecting total luxury. Mr. Escobar’s imaginative designs made him the perfect choice and, although he was not yet well known in the States, he was awarded the project.
Andres Escobar’s design used the architecture of the industrial space. He easily carved out a double-height lobby and clad it in black granite, tempered glass and a metallic curtain, punctuated by transparent glass elevators. He placed a small, reflecting pool into the space, which created a sense of serenity. He then extended the unusual lobby into the adjacent space and designed a residents’ library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a grand fireplace.
In the condominium units, he exposed concrete beams and added exotic Australian Jarrah wood flooring. An accomplished cook, he designed chef’s kitchens and outfitted them with Wolf ranges, Sub Zero refrigerators and Asko Dishwashers surrounded by Nero Impala granite countertops. In some of the units, he designed free-floating fireplaces framed in Pietra Colombina limestone.
The success of The Gretsch Building project soon lead to his next New York assignment, the ultra modern Chelsea Club in trendy West Chelsea. Working with Karl Fischer again, this time for MOeJOe Developers, he amalgamated edgy, space-age austerity with sensuous design. To begin with, he designed a breathtaking double-height entrance lobby in white marble with stainless steel columns in a serpentine pattern and back-painted glass panels that appear to float beyond the walls. This otherworldly theme is carried through to a private residents’ lounge with flat-screened televisions, conversation booths and backlit bar.
He designed each floor-through, loft-style unit in light hues to highlight the deep Brazilian Sucupira wood floors and stone finishes. For the condo units’ custom-designed kitchens, Mr. Escobar chose Gaggenau appliances, Subzero refrigerators, GeD Cucine cabinetry and center floating islands made from Statuaria marble. He fitted the bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed showers, many with double shower heads and double seating – “showers for two” — and Euro-style trough sinks.
Mr. Escobar is currently working on several residential projects in New York with such top New York-based architects as Robert Scarano and Tom O’Hara. In addition, he has teamed up with socialite Sabina Belkin to design Duvet, a new cocktail lounge/supper club at 45 West 21st Street that is already catching major buzz in society columns. In this, his first New York nightclub project, he has created an enormous bar that appears as an illuminated ice sculpture surrounded by carefully placed conical shaped columns that serve as private conversation areas.
Without a doubt, Andres Escobar is quickly placing his stamp on new New York design. He’s bringing in a fresh and unique vision that easily melds with the gritty architectural vocabulary of the City.
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