The apartment, which was a raw space when the Vongerichtens bought it nine years ago, was completely constructed and designed from scratch. The couple called in Danish designer Thomas Juul-Hansen, who also designed Vongerichten's restaurant Perry St., to helm the project.
"We aimed for a clean and simple design without clutter or noise," Juul-Hansen said. "The city has enough chaos, so it's critical for us that the home reflects a peaceful and quiet environment. It's modern, obviously, as we live in the 21st century, and it's trying to reduce the essence to what is critical with no added embellishments."
The kitchen counters, constructed entirely of Corian, were custom-made for the couple, as well as the lights. "We worked with Hervé Descottes on the lighting, who is by far the most talented lighting designer we know of," Juul-Hansen said.
Hidden cabinets keep the design sleek, while chairs blend into the island, making for easy storage. "The chairs in the kitchen were designed to be able to disappear when not in use; very practical and very simple in terms of an idea," Juuls-Hansen wrote. "Perfect for JG!!"
True to his profession, Jean-Georges rarely cooks in the apartment. "I don't think he's cooked one time in this apartment," Marja said while we were filming, although she later noted that Jean-Georges did film some demos in the kitchen.
The built-in wok burner is mostly for show, more than anything else, Marja said. "I hate using induction on cooking," she said. "It's uneven and it's hard to control. But you know, you have to place an actual wok in there, and I don't cook many things in a wok so it doesn't get used that much. But it's a cool topic of discussion."
The chairs, which overlook the river, tend to be lounging spots for the dogs. "You live in this space and you think, 'Wow, I'm going to sit here all day,' and you really don't," Marja said. "I don't appreciate the view as much as I should because we're always running and going."
As for the epic book collection, plenty were gifts from friends, Marja noted. The eclectic mix includes a Patrick Demarchelier book, as well as Hitchcock Style next to The Family Meal. "I've got mostly Asian cookbooks, and [Jean-Georges] doesn't have a lot of cookbooks here, they're mostly at the other home," Marja said.
The book Marja tends to gravitate to? Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. "I have used it on many occasions," Marja said. "If you don't know what a sous vide is, it'll tell you how to sous vide it. It's a dictionary for a home cook."
A framed photo of Marja and Jean-Georges' wedding day lays on the coffee table, a gift from someone in the family, Marja said. Inside, there is the invitation to the wedding.
Around 30 framed photos are on display in the living room bookshelf, mostly documenting the family's travels and experiences. "I think I was tired of the space being empty," Marja said. "I mean, there's no deliberate motive behind putting the photos the way I did, it all just ended up there."
While most of the items on the bookshelves (shells, reminiscent of the fishtank-esque apartment) are gifts from the wedding, these two Buddha heads were a contribution from Marja. "I can't even remember where I got them, I bought them so long ago," Marja said. "I got it somewhere in SoHo, in a really beautiful antique store on Mercer years ago."
Two bonus shots of the puppies, Jojo (left) and Candy (right).