When fashion designer Ralph Rucci saw the terrace of an empty apartment on New York City’s Upper East Side some 13 years ago, he melted. He had asked his real estate agent to find him a place downtown, in the East Village. He was annoyed that instead she brought him to an 18th-floor penthouse just four blocks from his old place on Park Avenue. “I walked in—it was bare white walls—and then I went outside and saw the terrace, and I said, ‘This is it.’ ”
It took time for Rucci to find the right formula for turning the space into his personal Eden. The long, narrow passageway runs the length of his apartment and flows into a rectangle at the corner, forming an L-shape. At first, he placed huge palm trees. “They were torn apart over the winter,” he says. Next, he tried white birch. “They had a short season, and were not strong enough.” With help from landscape designer John Wysocki, he settled on the current arrangement, which has remained in place, with minor tweaks, about 10 years. Rucci gave Wysocki one word of direction: “chinoiserie.” Then they collaborated on decisions.
Photography: John Bessler
Produced by Jo Ann McVicker
Landscape designer: John Wysocki