by Barbara Hertenstein Jacobitti
This contemporary condo brings the best of European design to St. Louis
As warm sun pours in through sheer curtains eight foors above the city, Todd Lannom’s home feels a bit like a ship sailing calmly in an ocean of gold. Spare, contemporary style adds to the serenity.
Lannom and his partner, Brian Clore, arrived to choose their apartment on the frst day Conrad Properties made the condos at 4545 Lindell available.
“They just had a trailer set up in the lot for presales,” Lannom says, and thinking ahead, the company had hired a crane to take a photographer up to several floor levels to show clients what the view would be. And quite a view it is, from the Gateway Arch to the east, sweeping through mid-city to the south, with a glimpse of the art museum on the horizon and views of Clayton’s towers to the west.
“We see some great lightening and thunderstorms from up here,” he says. They were hoping to get the 9th floor, but arrived just minutes too late, so tagged their 8th floor condo and crossed their fingers that their balcony would extend enough to clear the buildings along side. It does.
That settled, the real work began. Waiting for the building to go up, and knowing they would be given the keys to an empty box, they had hundreds of decisions to make.
Every surface: foors, walls, doors and more, had to be chosen. Every piece of furniture and lighting was planned for the 2200 square-foot space.
Because Lannom is co-owner of the upscale contemporary furniture store, Centro, when it came to choosing furniture, he was, as the English say, spoiled for choice.
Traveling to Milan and other European capitals at least once a year for the furniture shows, Lannom sees the newest of the new in furniture and lighting, cutting edge design that brings shoppers to the Central West End shop. A few favorite pieces make their way into his home. “I’m surrounded by lots of things in the store,” he says, so he finds it more relaxing to have just a few favorite pieces in his own home.
Lannom, who moved to St. Louis in 1992 after growing up in Cincinnati, had always been interested in design.
“My father made furniture, mostly Shaker, so I learned about joinery and all that. And I grew up going to open houses with my family. But I’d never been exposed to the kind of furniture I saw at Mossa when I arrived here,” he says, referring to St. Louis’ frst truly contemporary furniture store.
“I liked it right away. It was a step away from surface decoration, to a modern, minimalist look.”
Owner Dwight Reum hired Lannom to work at Mossa. “Dwight taught me the industry. He took me to the shows in Milan and I sat in on the meetings with the vendors.’’
After Reum died in 1996, Lannom continued at Mossa for a time, then later teamed with Ginny Stewart, who had been running Centro, selling furniture on a commercial basis. The partners took the Italian name, pronouncing it the Italian way, “Chentro” (how could you not, after all those trips to Italy?) and opened their store in July 1998. They stocked it with classic modern furniture and new contemporary designs.
“A lot of the things we’re selling are in museum collections today,” he says, and in his home as well.
But before the furniture, came the box. With the help of architect Phil Durham of Studio|Durham Architects, they kept track of measurements down to the millimeter to be sure the satin-smooth glass doors being shipped from Italy would fit exactly foor to ceiling, and the sculptured tub would slide into the space between the bathroom wall and shower.
“Many contractors say it’s harder to do modern,” Lannom says, because you can’t cover gaps or mistakes with molding and such.
Perhaps the most eye-catching surface is the striated Greek Olympia marble that covers the wide kitchen wall. Its subtle gray lines are repeated in the horizontal ridges of the cabinets by Driade Chef of Italy. A hanging metal shelf holds china. Faucets throughout are sleek German designs by Dornbracht.
The foors are covered in dark gray rectangular ceramic tile from Italy, as are the walls in the baths.
The color scheme is monochromatic throughout, with pops of color. The gray L-shaped sofa by Antonio Citterio for B&B Italia has removable hemp fabric covers that are attached with Velcro and easy to remove to clean or change.
The newest addition to the living room is a low, hanging walnut cabinet by Philipp Mainzer for e15 of Germany.
“It took a long time to decide what to put there”, says Lannom. “For awhile the TV sat on a hand-me-down piece of furniture. We just couldn’t decide what we wanted there.”
Above the cabinet, a wide TV screen seems to foat on the white wall, with no cords in sight, thanks to help from Lannom’s father who opened space in the wall to hide them inside. Details, details. Always worth the trouble.
Centered in the dining area is a round black table whose edges can be folded down to turn the table into a square. Natural leather chairs are by Mario Bellini for Cassina. Te library holds Clore’s piano and shelves stacked with design books.
The bedrooms include a few family pieces, including mid-1950s dressers and shelves, gifts from his parents. But it’s Citterio’s B&B Italia bed dressed in gray and white that makes a statement. A shot of green comes from the quirky, knotted fiber chair by Marcel Wanders/droog Design for Cappellini.
“I don’t want to live in a period room,” Lannom says. “There are so many new and exciting designs.”
And as each new piece appears, you can be sure a few of them will fnd a home in this stylish condo overlooking the city.
Reprinted by permission from Sophisticated Living, March – April, 2013.