When asked by longtime friends to assist with a full-scale renovation of their 19th floor end-unit condominium, the sun swept view from their Cap Ferrat home in Pelican Bay provided a majestic starting point for Swiss interior designer Roland Wyss. The owners, who are also from Switzerland, have known Wyss for over 20 years and had worked with him on other properties. Those prior experiences simplified the exchange of ideas. After reaching out to Wyss, he got on a plane and flew to Naples to see the residence, take measurements, and get a feel for the owners’ new lifestyle. For their Florida home, the couple eschewed what they perceived as a “Coastal Style,” favoring instead a sleek and up-to-date continental look.
With the neutral granite flooring as the only fixed design component, Wyss was given a blank palette with which to work. He thought carefully about the balance between nature and design, the movement of light through the home, and the prominence of the brilliant blues of the Gulf and the sky.
“Spaces should create emotions,” Wyss believes. “By combining noble materials and modern shapes, we’ve created a contemporary, sporty, and elegant effect with a distinctly European flair. It’s timeless and inviting.”
The designer used a masterful mix of contrasting elements to convey both luxury and simplicity. The gleam of the granite floors is complemented by the depth and texture of the softly colored Venetian stucco walls. Brightly colored abstract art is balanced by rich, neutral fabrics, warm woods, and leather. Chandeliers in sparkling jewel tones offer an enchanting focal point.
“Every element has its own characteristic feel and special sensuality,” says Wyss. “The correct use of material, shape, and color is important for all the elements to work together to their best advantage. This is especially true when there is so much brightness to consider.”
Working together, Wyss and his clients built each room, element by element, with hand-crafted lighting fixtures, exquisite wall finishes, and meticulously vetted furnishings.
“I place a very high value on quality, as do my clients,” explains Wyss. “I work only with the best materials from fine studios and top artisan suppliers.”
With all the available natural light, Wyss chose to use dramatic ceiling fixtures to center the rooms and establish just the right ambiance in each. He selected hand-blown Murano glass chandeliers from Italy for their artistic beauty and color, as well as their illumination. To spread light evenly throughout, recessed Swarovski crystal spotlights were used. The designer specified the crystal due to its exceptional clarity and its brilliant and symmetrical light dispersal. All of the lights can be controlled electronically.
To further play with light, Wyss used Venetian stucco on the walls. Known for its burnished luster and translucence, the stucco is a unifying element throughout the home.
“When the sun falls on the walls, the sheen is so lovely,” says the owner. “The surface seems to have a life of its own. There’s practically a reflection, like a mirror.”
Furnishings largely made to measure in European workshops provide the foundation for the look of each room. French walnut, noted for its fine and straight grain, and maple were used in the dining and living rooms. The clean lines and straight-forward design of the tables and built-ins draw attention to the beautiful hardwood. Complementary fabrics and tailored silk window treatments were made by the distinguished European textile house, Zimmer + Rohde, and a traditional German silk manufacturer. Custom designed rugs continue the soft, neutral palette of the walls and floors. Given the importance Wyss attaches to the correct use of materials, it’s not surprising that he worked closely with his craftsman to ensure proper execution.
“Contemporary style requires perfection when it comes to details,” he comments, “and I put demands on my suppliers whose expertise is important to the final results.”
The sleek, modular kitchen takes its cues from the brilliant blues of the Gulf and the sky and was custom-designed. Wyss paired the high-gloss, periwinkle blue, metallic lacquer cabinetry with walls of the same color in a velvety Venetian stucco. Black granite countertops and a constellation of cobalt lights contribute to the polished look of the space.
The high style of the kitchen is matched by superb functionality. Custom, automated blinds are pre-set on timers to the owners’ preferences. A built-in wine cooler, double oven, and dual refrigerators provide ample resources for entertaining. The high-top breakfast bar with swivel chairs overlooks the Gulf, making it the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee from the dual cappuccino and espresso coffee maker housed in the softly curving cabinetry. Striped curtains in shades of blue create the feel of a resort cabana.
While the kitchen is the most colorful part of the residence, the owners did not shy away from color when it came to artwork. Staying in tune with their preference for the contemporary, they visited galleries in Switzerland and Miami to find pieces just right for every room. Their magnificent collection of bold canvases adds vibrancy and style to what is already a sophisticated and timeless look.
According to Wyss, the best result always comes when a designer knows his customers and appreciates their sensibilities and life style. At Cap Ferrat, he more than met his measure. “We went for what we like,” says the owner, “for what suits us the best. We wanted it to be contemporary, light and easy to live in, and that’s what we got.”