With a soft and subtle palette, GRADE New York creates serene and elegant designs with surprising elements and sparkling details. By integrating interior design and architecture, each project forms a holistic, cohesive whole.
The harmonious coherence of interior and architecture is the most important aspect in the design philosophy of GRADE New York. The agency was founded by friends Edward Yedid and Thomas Hickey. The designers share a vision of how living spaces should look and feel. By integrating and combining architecture and interior design, they achieve a beautiful, balanced harmony. ‘We strive to create spaces that are grounded in historical precedents, take clues from their context and have a view to the future,’ we hear from the studio. With their obsession with beauty – and creating contemporary beauty for living – they create unique and personal spaces. Edward Yedid and Thomas Hickey met when the latter was teaching at the Parsons School of Design while also working at Robert A.M Stern Architects. Yedid, who has had a passion for art, design and travel all his life, was one of his students and it clicked right away between the two. ‘Out of that class a friendship grew. Edward had expressed his interest in architecture and came to me with questions about the profession and what education was needed to become an architect, and we both recognized the opportunity to team up,’ says Hickey. From his career as both architect and teacher, Hickey discovered what their office should stand for: a harmonious fusion of interior design and architecture. ‘From my experience I discovered that architecture and interior design were very separate, disconnected practices. More often than not interior design followed architectural design rather than being considered simultaneously with it. Interior design was an afterthought for many architects, but in contrast the approach I taught was an integrated one, bridging architecture with interiors, and vice versa, from the outset.’ This also became GRADE's distinctive approach.
‘A home is only complete with the right architecture, interiors, decoration and art’
With their integrated approach, GRADE creates and designs houses as well as interiors. ‘I really love the process of developing the connection between a house and its site and then translating how the exterior relates to the interior to create a seamless experience,’ says Hickey. ‘The built environment provides a physical manifestation of the continuity and relationship between the outside and inside relative to its context.’ Architecture and interiors each have their own unique aspects that the designers both appreciate, according to Yedid. And as is characteristic for their approach and vision, the design always takes into account how exterior and interior inform and influence each other. Both designers have a similar style and design approach that is guided and inspired by historical and cultural references. The name GRADE also comes from this. It is a reference to 'gradient' and a metaphor for their process: a distillation of ideas and references from traditional to modern to reveal the true essence and vision of a project. ‘Aesthetically, we both like clean, organized spaces, calm environments and elegant details,’ Yedid says. ‘Our designs reflect that way of being: ordered, elegant, well-thought out and coordinated.’ Without having one fixed style, a GRADE project always evokes a modern sensibility. For the architectural elements, the designers use rigid, calm palettes, but there is also a certain edginess to everything they do. ‘Interior decoration is another thing entirely. Decoration can be bolder, more fun and can always be changed out; however, everything has its place and is coordinated,’ Yedid adds. GRADE prefers to work with a soft and sober palette of colours and materials. ‘Neutral tones are present in materials like silvered cedar or teak’ says Hickey. ‘Architectural concrete and limestone are balanced with whites and creams and provide a sense of calm, or when offset with darker tones, they create a distinct contrast.’ With such a sober and neutral background, there is plenty of room for bold details and decoration if desired. GRADE does not always do this using bright colours, but also with special finishes, textures and patterns. For this they are also inspired by fashion and the materials they wear themselves. 'One of the most important aspects of designing an interior is in developing a vision and intent for the project and then maintaining it through each and every decision,’ says Yedid. That vision of GRADE is holistic, strong, clear and organized. ‘We want to tell a story about our clients, and the challenge in designing is to find all the pieces that make that story come together,’ Yedid adds. According to Hickey, it's also important to take advantage of natural light and the views available and to create coherent plans that integrate and emphasise these elements in the interior.
This feature was previously published in our issue Imagicasa Autumn 2020. Want to learn more about the projects by GRADE or want to be inspired by other amazing designers? You can still order this issue on our webshop. Images courtesy of GRADE New York
Photography by Richard Powers and William Abranowicz