What do home-design gurus Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams like to do most in their New York pied-à-tiere? View the exclusive image gallery.
This is a love story—well, several love stories.
It begins in New York in the ’80s,
when a Jersey boy named Mitchell Gold, then in the employ of Lane Furniture, met a Texas transplant named Bob Williams, a graphic designer for Seventeen. They fell in love and set up housekeeping, ready to pursue their Big Apple dreams and live happily ever after.
But Lane transferred Gold to High Point, North Carolina, the epicenter of American furniture making, and he and Williams departed Gotham. Soon the enterprising duo decided to start a home furnishings company of their own, pooling their aesthetic and entrepreneurial resources and launching the company that now bears their names.
Twenty-three years later, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams employs more than 600 people and sells upholstered pieces, case goods, rugs, lamps, and accessories in 80 retail venues, including 16 of its own showrooms. National chains like Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Restoration Hardware carry MG+BW products, as does Bloomingdale’s, where Gold first worked right after college. Annual sales exceed $100 million and retail profits are up 27 percent over last year, according to Gold. Among the many American homes that contain MG+BW furniture is a certain white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
After 14 years together, Gold and Williams decided to go their separate romantic ways, although they remain devoted friends and business partners. Williams met and eventually settled down with Stephen Heavner, who now works for MG+BW, and Gold moved forward as a solo act.
Their split had absolutely no bearing on their
longtime desire to buy a New York pied-à-terre
Not surprisingly, their amicable split had absolutely no bearing on their shared longtime desire to buy a New York pied-à-terre together. (You can take the boys out of New York, but not New York out of the boys.) Several years ago they started shopping for an apartment with an open living/dining/kitchen space and two separate but equal master suites, though the market did not oblige.
Eventually they purchased two adjoining one-bedroom units on the 58th floor of the Orion, a new glass tower in gentrifying Hell’s Kitchen, and enlisted architect James Bartholomew to combine them into the high-rise haven of their dreams. In addition to the building’s amazing views and amenities, Gold says, “The floors were a beautiful cherry wood, and the kitchens and bathrooms were great.” Now all they needed to do was furnish the place.
No problems there. Although MG+BW produces pieces with a variety of historical influences, the principals chose some of their mid-century-inspired designs for the Orion. “They just seemed right with the architecture,” says Gold, although he and Williams, like all designers, confess to an almost compulsive need for periodic makeovers.
“The first sofa we had in the place was blue,” says Williams. “It was inspired by the sky,” adds Gold, “which is all around you when you’re up here. We didn’t want anything that would upstage the views.” Indeed, when one stands in the airy living room, the 240-degree panorama spans east down 42nd Street, south to the Statue of Liberty, and west to the Hudson River.
By the time the renovation was finished, in 2007, Gold had met Tim Scofield, who was working in the Smithsonian Institution’s Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. The two men married in Iowa in June 2010, and Scofield—now CEO of the not-for-profit Velvet Foundation, which is dedicated to creating an LGBT museum in Washington—moved to North Carolina and changed his surname to Gold.
Today the Golds, Williams, and Heavner are fast friends, if not family. “It’s not unusual for us to share Christmas dinner,” says Williams—or even for all four of them to be in residence at the Orion simultaneously. (Gold is even on the condo board.) “Every time I come to the apartment,” Williams muses, “I wind up staring out the windows. One of the places I can see is the YMCA, just a few blocks away, where I stayed when I first got to New York, in 1982. And I think, I never would have guessed 30 years ago that I could ever be way up here, looking out. It’s just so fantastic!”