"These kind of sum up how I feel about 2020,” says Martha Hunt of the explosive abstract paintings by Daisy Parris that hang in her New York City apartment. “They’re really intense.” The vibe is otherwise serene at the home of this supermodel, who, on a recent morning, could be found curled with her puppy, Coco, on a sofa. From that perch, with Lower Manhattan framed by corner windows, she has weathered much of the pandemic. Her coping mechanisms? Hard-core nesting—and a lot of plants.
It’s a new thing for the peripatetic Hunt, who was named an ambassador for Bulgari, the Italian jewelry house, last summer. Since moving to New York from her native North Carolina in 2007, she recalls, “I’ve lived all over. And I’ve always had a bag packed and ready to go if I got a last-minute call.” Four years ago Hunt felt drawn to Tribeca’s cobblestone streets after stints in Red Hook, Williamsburg, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and various pockets of the Village. She and her now fiancé, photographer Jason McDonald, settled into a two-bedroom condo and started to decorate. But on a visit to Giancarlo Valle’s nearby studio, something clicked.
“I liked that he had a unique point of view,” she recalls of the AD100 designer, whom she met through mutual friend Jason Wu. “I first went in for chairs, and it evolved from there.” Room by room, Valle worked his magic—opening up a wall, devising a floor plan, and conceiving one-of-a-kind pieces, from an oval television cabinet in a shade of oxblood to Donald Judd–esque shelves in verdigris copper. “The project became a bit of a testing ground for the studio,” he notes.
“I sent him images of things I had and things I love,” Hunt reminisces. “Ceramics were a big part of that.” Her collection already included vessels by John Born, a planter by Eny Lee Parker, and a floor lamp by Carmen D’Apollonio. The last, she notes, “kind of looks like it has scoliosis,” a condition she’s had since she was a teenager and about which she now raises awareness. “Maybe that’s subconsciously why I got it.” Valle built upon that mix with works by Matt Merkel Hess and a bespoke bronze-and-ceramic table created in collaboration with Natalie Weinberger.
When Hunt requested a limewash treatment for her bedroom walls (“It improves air quality and is very eco-friendly”), he chose a sage hue from Portola Paints to complement her pumpkin-colored Mario Bellini sofa. And when she suggested a semicircular sofa in the den, Valle came up with two J-shaped designs
in nubby ivory bouclé that, set against plaster walls by Kamp Studios, evoke sitting in a cloud.
This same space, with its wall of illuminated closets and drawers full of jewelry and handbags, was originally meant to serve as Hunt’s fitting room. But she and Valle morphed it into a cozy hangout spot when jobs and events slowed during the pandemic. The apartment then became something like her own personal set, a backdrop to DIY photo shoots and at-home Instagram campaigns, like the one she did for the Bulgari-sponsored virtual Tribeca Film Festival in February.
All that nesting proved timely for Hunt and McDonald, who are expecting their first child this month. Glancing around the apartment, she observes, “I guess we’ll have to add a crib in here.”