Meet the New York Judges

Interior Designer
Alex Papachristidis

The work of interior decorator Alex Papachristidis has been described as thoughtful, personal, sophisticated and eclectic. Having mastered the skill of fusing modern and traditional elements, editors, designers and clients’ alike use the word “fresh” to define his elegant approach, color palette, and the delightful details that make even a small room sizzle with style. Mario Buatta calls Alex Papachristidis “one of today’s eminent tastemakers. Known for arresting, elegant interiors that meld classical motifs with a modern perspective and sophisticated details.”

Born and raised in New York City, Papachristidis got his first big commission—a large Manhattan apartment—while a student at Parsons School of Design. This quickly led to a second project, a townhouse, for a couple he met at a dinner party in the South of France. “Once I started,” says Alex, “I never looked back. I established my own firm in 1987. Even now, I find decorating the most fulfilling career. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Growing up, I traveled widely and saw many beautiful homes in Europe and America, which helped cultivate my eye. And I was born to shop!”

Today, Papachristidis’ interiors can be found all over the world from Manhattan, the Hamptons, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Florida, Texas and Colorado—to London and Saudi Arabia.

Recent projects include the dining room of the 2016 Kips Bay Decorator Show House, a sophisticated and luxurious beach house in the Hamptons, and a large Greenwich Village apartment featuring a mix of Mid-Century furniture and Bohemian accents. Papachristidis is currently finishing a unique Los Angeles residence with beautiful gardens and a spectacular view, as well as a modern take on a classic Philadelphia Main Line residence for sophisticated clients. For a Manhattan couple, he redecorated a grand classic Park Avenue apartment, creating serene and elegant interiors, which showcase the clients’ important collection of Contemporary Art.

Unlike some designers, Papachristidis welcomes his clients’ ideas. “Often the most interesting projects are the ones in which a savvy client is intimately involved,” he says. A perfectionist, he likes to see a project through to its smallest details—from hand painted dishes, to custom made linens, blotters and couture tissue holders.

“The greatest pleasure for me,” says Papachristidis, “is when clients tell me that we’ve made their home into ‘an exquisite backdrop,’ a place to live, enjoy, and entertain.” Papachristidis believes that a great interior should be beautiful and usable, and each room in a home created for living.

Alex Papachristidis’ work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, House & Garden, Southern Accents, InStyle and The New York Times. He has also been featured in a number of publications, most recently including Rooms To Inspire In The City (2010), Living with What You Love: Decorating with Family Photos, Cherished Heirlooms, and Collectibles (2010), Room for Children (2010), Be Your Own Decorator (2012) and Designers at Home: Personal Reflections on Stylish Living (2013).

In 2012, his own book The Age of Elegance: Interiors by Alex Papachristidis was published by Rizzoli, garnering praise from readers and critics alike and now in its third printing. called it an “extraordinary book on how you too can obtain [Papachristidis’] one of a kind ‘look,’” and Tribune Media Services praised the book’s “sophisticated interiors that highlight antiques from all eras,” and its “solid tips written in the author’s voice making the haute interiors seem doable.” The book is co-authored by Dan Shaw with a Foreword by Mario Buatta and Photographs by Tria Giovan.

Papachristidis has been a guest of the “Today Show” numerous times, and has also appeared on “This Old House”, CNN and WSJ “Lunch Break”. For several years, he served as Decorating Chair for the Southampton Hospital’s annual summer gala. He is a four-time participant in the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Decorator Show House and The Hampton Designer Showhouse.

Papachristidis’ love of animals is reflected in his interiors, as well as his position on the Board of Directors for the ARF (Animal Refuge Fund of the Hamptons. Papachristidis was named to the 2016 AD100 List, Elle Décor’s “A-List of 25 Interior Designers” and for several years in a row has been on the NY Spaces’ “Top 50 Designers List.”

Interior Designer
Analisse Taft- Gersten

Analisse Taft-Gersten, founder of the ALT for Living Showrooms has transformed the meaning of luxury with her unique one-stop-shop lifestyle experiences.

Through her years of traveling the world, Taft-Gersten developed a deep appreciation for beautiful design and craftsmanship. When she moved to New York City from Los Angeles she immersed herself in the design world and soon realized it was her true passion in life. In 2008, when businesses were closing their doors, Analisse saw an opportunity in the market to curate something special. Contrary to the economic trends, Analisse took a bold leap and opened ALT for Living. Her vision was to offer designers and architects a special place to come and experience all that design has to offer. A showroom to get lost in and to inspire creativity.

After a decade of growth and deep relationship building, Analisse decided the ALT brand deserved a larger platform to enhance and showcase her vision. She moved her flagship to a retail level location in the heart of the Flower District in NYC and added a Parisian style Café to enhance the offering and shopping experience. Soon after opening ALT for Living, ALTBOX was born, which offers uptown clients an alternate experience to the D&D building. ALTBOX offers the curated products available at ALT for Living in a more intimate atmosphere including another European style espresso bar.

With twenty years of experience on the East Coast, Analisse has decided to come home to Los Angeles and share her inspiration and vision with her original design community. The ALT LA location is a testament to the ever-expanding ALT brand and its resonance with tastemakers in major markets. Analisse continues to collaborate with the most prestigious developers, weavers and artisans from around the world and work hand-in-hand with the most talented designers on high-end residences, hotels, yachts, and corporate projects.

Interior Designer
Harry  Heissmann

Harry Heissmann Inc. was established in New York City in 2009.

After obtaining a Masters of Interior Design degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany, Harry arrived in the United States in 1995.

He gained extensive experience working for some of the city’s most respected firms and spent nine years in the offices of Albert Hadley, who dubbed his desk ‘the magic shop’ before opening his own eponymous firm.

For his clients, Harry moves effortlessly from traditional to contemporary and everything in between, which prompted him to describe his style as ‘client-centric’.

It is all about the client, the location, the comfort and the practicality.

Harry says he would furnish a match-box, if he thought that’s what the client wanted – no project too big or too small.

After all, his sense of humor always shines through, he delivers highly personal interiors with a smile.

Published in various magazines and books, Harry loves to contribute to charities and show houses, such as Kips Bay (2011, 2016) and most recently participated in his third Holiday House.

Interior Designer
Lori Weitzner

Lori Weitzner entered the arts program at Syracuse University as an aspiring painter, a path she had dreamed of since early childhood. She credits a professor at the school with redirecting her away from fine arts and toward textiles, where, to her surprise, she discovered the beauty and complexity of working with the materials that embellish our everyday lives and elevate our spirits. Despite her instinctive understanding and mastery of color, her paintings “never would have made it into a gallery,” she now laughs. The same cannot be said of her textiles; examples of her work are housed in the permanent collections of museums such as the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Montreal, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City. Her innovative design techniques and use of surprising and beautiful environmentally-conscious materials have garnered her multiple design awards, including a nomination for the Chrysler Innovation Award.

Lori’s aesthetic is informed by her extensive travels and cross-cultural design experiences. After selling her textiles in cities across Europe, Lori focused her creative energies on package and product designs for brands such as Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein and Dansk. She established herself in the U.S. textiles market as the Design Director for Jack Lenor Larsen, after which she introduced Weitzner Limited, a line of innovative wallcoverings that are sold world-wide. Lori also has collaborated successfully with a number of businesses in the United States and abroad: Germany’s renowned Sahco, New York’s Samuel & Sons, for whom she designs passementerie as “jewelry for the home”, and most recently, Papyrus, which features her greeting cards made of hand-made papers.

Throughout her career, Lori has travelled to countries across the globe in search of materials, inspiration, techniques and artisans that create products blending tradition with cutting-edge design. Her fabrics and wallcoverings grace celebrity homes, including those of Julianne Moore and Will Ferrell, they have been used in costumes and sets for major motion pictures such as “Money Monster”, “Gangs of New York” and “Mission Impossible.” They are also used in such eponymous commercial spaces as Google Headquarters, Saks Fifth Avenue and Wynn Hotels. She regularly lectures before audiences around the world on engaging the senses and finding inspiration in the world around us, both natural and man-made.

In December 2016, Harper Collins published Lori’s first book, Ode to Color

Todd Klein

After a successful formative career in Louisville, Kentucky, native Kentuckian Todd Klein moved to New York to work with Albert Hadley of the venerable American design firm Parish-Hadley. In 2000, Parish-Hadley closed its doors and Mr. Hadley encouraged Klein to open his own design firm. Seventeen years later, the business continues to grow serving clients around the world.

Todd strives to help his clients realize their decorating dreams by first determining what is appropriate for their homes and then making it work for their lifestyles. Color, proportion, scale and comfort are the important principles Todd feels are necessary to create successful interiors. His work utilizes sumptuous fabrics and unique color combinations always emphasizing comfort and practical luxury as a desired result. His philosophy is simply stated, “Design takes on an almost spiritual dimension when you create a pleasing space to share with friends or relax alone.” Todd credits Mother Nature and design giants Albert Hadley, Nancy Lancaster, David Hicks, and Billy Baldwin as his greatest mentors.

Klein’s projects include the interior architecture and design of a new home in Greenwich, Winfield House, the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in London, a ranch house in Jackson Hole, a farmhouse on Martha’s Vineyard, a horse farm and several other projects in Kentucky, a villa on St. Barth’s, a Soho loft in Manhattan, a house in Bakers Bay, Bahamas, a new Hinckley yacht and various other exciting residential projects.

House Beautiful magazine’s Top 100 List has recognized the work of Todd Klein, Inc. for the last five years. New York magazine and Gotham magazine named him one of New York’s top 100 Architects and Interior Designers and Todd has been featured on HGTV and the Fine Living Network. The Preservation Alliance honored him for his historic renovation of White Hall in Louisville. Todd has been an editorial contributor to House Beautiful, Better Homes and Gardens Decorating, Elle Decor and House and Garden.

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