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Cloud Nine

Architectural Digest March 2011

Cloud Nine Cloud Nine

An expansion takes dealer Ralph Pucci's Manhattan showroom to a new level

If space is the ultimate sign of wealth in new york city, then Ralph Pucci must be a pasha. The dealer in contemporary furniture has long lorded over a vast penthouse loft on 18th Street in Chelsea, where he displays pieces by Vladimir Kagan, Hervé Van der Straeten, Andrée Putman, Patrick Naggar, and others. But even that sizable fiefdom, it seems, was cramping his style. A few months ago Pucci completed his expansion on the building's ninth floor, bringing his total exhibition area in New York to 30,000 square feet. (He has a Los Angeles showroom as well.)

'I don't think anyone has more space for high design,' says Pucci, with the enthusiasm and rapid-fire delivery of a teenager. But he's not interested in the numbers per se; all that real estate gives him room to show what he considers brilliant work. 'Quality is really important,' he says. 'When you have a great product, you want to be able to appreciate it.'

What has always set Pucci's showrooms apart is the juxtaposition of objects- French with American; re-editions with new designs; clean, squared-off lines alongside sinuous curves- yet all of it looking of a piece. Fine art is integral to the installations, too. In this Pucci was ahead of the pack: Many art galleries are now adding design shows to their lineups.

Gallery Nine, as Pucci calls his new ninth-floor aerie, is predictably spectacular, with windows on three sides. It has become his dedicated zone for 'trendier material,' he says, which has recently included poetic large-scale photo collages by Deborah Turbeville, a stark geometric mural by Malcolm Hill, and the ruggedly elegant furniture of Jim Zivic. Blink and you might miss something good, as the displays are always changing. Members of the impresario's ever-growing fan club revel in his new setup. 'Usually when you see furniture, it's all crammed together,' says fashion designer Anna Sui, who has bought pieces from Pucci and become a friend. 'Ralph offers you the luxury of space'.

TED LOOS