Drewett Works’ project Upward Bound won the Modern Vertical Living award during the Modern Luxury inaugural Design 9 Awards on Nov. 9, 2023. The winning project was featured in Modern Luxury Interiors‘ 2023 fourth edition.

We want to thank editor-in-chief Laura Eckstein Jones and publisher Kelly Persellin for putting these extraordinary awards together, writer Riki Altman-Yee for her insight into this unique project, and photographer Austin LaRue for his exceptional photography.

The High Life

A talented architect and interior designer sculpted the perfect perch for a couple of art lovers.

Written by: Riki Altman-Yee
Photography by: Austin Larue

C.P. Drewett of Drewett Works Architecture and Claire Ownby of Ownby Design knew they would have to deliver master-level surroundings for a retired couple planning to merge two pre-construction units at Optima Kierland. While the homeowners spent time in Arizona seasonally, they wanted to be surrounded by a significant cache of their museum-worthy art collection all around their three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom condo on the eleventh floor. “Minimal and modern were the keywords for this project,” Drewett recalls.

Though he and Ownby only had 2,400 square feet of “canvas” available, it was enough to house more than three dozen extraordinary works, hide lots of cool tech and provide awe-inspiring views. While Drewett worked within the limitations of structural columns and predesignated plumbing lines to create a floor plan with ample wall space, Ownby and project designer Kris Harline compiled a list of finishes to compliment the surrounding mountain vistas, including Cebu aqua tile and cool white paint with slight gray undertones from Dunn-Edwards.

“We wanted to make sure that, in addition to all of their personal art, the Arizona scenery also stayed as a framed element to their interior aesthetic,” Ownby explains. “We did this by encompassing a minimal modern aesthetic that embraced natural materials and a monochromatic organic color palette. We wanted to embrace all of their unique pieces and purposely display them in a way that not only complimented the interiors but paid homage to the modern architecture of the space as well.”

As all the artworks—including paintings by George Condo and Alice Neel and a Jeff Koons sculpture in an art niche—required special lighting, Drewett and Ownby worked with Robert Singer & Associates to ensure fixtures were stealthily integrated within drywall soffits. Ownby also worked with engineers to install a concealed television lift in the living room. But some of the condo’s best features were proudly exhibited, like a black steel “ribbon” that forms a backsplash in the kitchen and travels along the ceiling past sleek Bulthaup cabinetry and low-profile quartz countertops and into the living room. She also worked with Linear Fine Woodworking to create a custom illuminated cabinet detailed with steel—a showpiece element on its own.

From the spacious entryway to the modest powder room, it is fair to say Ownby and Drewett composed a true masterpiece.