Franklin Report New York City
Franklin Report Report Card for Cullman & Kravis Inc. in New York City

Cullman & Kravis Inc.

790 Madison Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10021
(212) 249-3874
www.cullmankravis.com
info@cullmankravis.com
Main Contact: Elissa Cullman
FR Rated

Categories
Interior Designers & Decorators

FRANKLIN REPORT RATINGS
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5
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Services & Specialties
Exquisite, stately-yet-accessible, traditional interior design

FR Review:
Cullman & Kravis is a venerable design firm transcending trends and generations. Founded in 1984 by Elissa Cullman and the late Hedi Kravis, over the years the name has become synonymous with an American traditionalism that marries free spirits to impeccable taste. Their projects range in style and palette, but the proportions are always harmoniously balanced, the furniture is always proper, and the fabrics are always sumptuous and richly detailed. In the finishing and art, the firm's playful side comes out: a collection of vintage checkerboards lines the walls of a rustic lodge, while in the city a Nan Goldin photo is paired with French deco furnishings. Simply put: a Cullman & Kravis room just feels right, with a twist. Recently, the structure of the firm has changed, with four senior designers elevated to partnership alongside Cullman: Lee Cavanaugh, Sarah Ramsey, Claire Ratliff and Alyssa Urban. This move signifies a forward-looking approach, aimed at carrying the firm's torch into the future. Industry sources praise the move and the new partners, saying “each one of them could run their own great firm if they wanted, no question.”

Though Cullman & Kravis earned its reputation on the chutzpah of its founders, today the firm is better understood as the perfection of a method, carried out by seasoned professionals. In general, the method is "give the client everything." In particular, what “everything” means depends on the circumstances–it could be as high-minded as an education in American folk art or as practical as help folding napkins for a last-minute dinner party. In this respect, the firm's large size is an advantage–each partner has their own unique strengths which can be called on as the need arises.

Cullman & Kravis takes on about ten large projects a year, with thirty-five or so smaller jobs operating in the background. Geographically, they range from Hawaii to Colorado to around the corner on Park. Clients have included the CEOs of major corporations and celebrities (and Oprah, who is both, if not more). The firm charges a standard design fee, classic retail on product and workroom, and standard hourly fees for oversight–clients consider the firm top of the market but very much worth it. While “no expense is spared,” all of the firm's contracts are "detailed, clear, and ironclad.” Their access to superior craftsmen is described as “unparalleled,” and their “no drama” working method yields on schedule results. Many clients have used the firm multiple times—the ultimate compliment. AD's "Deans of American Design." AD 100, 2000-2017. KB 2010, 2014.

Representative Client Comments:
“I really respected Ellie’s integrity. With our new home, she insisted that we first put the money into the proper architecture, saying that the sofas could be purchased anytime.” “The firm’s incredible organizational skills are very comforting.” “Ellie stays closely involved in our project. She is available whenever we want to talk to or meet with her.” “When major expenditures were being considered, alternatives were often offered to achieve the same or similar goals at a lower cost.” “My vision was slightly different from their usual style and they executed it perfectly. My apartment is gorgeous, and I have received many compliments.” “Though slipcovers are not Ellie’s thing, she did what I asked and made it look great.” “Twelve years later, everything still looks fresh.” “The only firm to use if you’re a serious collector. They understand that mindset.” “Many of the same chintzes and tartans are used, even in the same color.” “Ellie personally vetted every antique and kept a close eye on the associates assigned to us.” “People have nicknamed the firm ‘The Sorority,’ with Ellie as the den mother, monitoring the operation carefully.” “I did not want to be involved on a detailed basis, and I certainly did not need to be—they did it all perfectly.”

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REGISTERED (2 reviews)
Posted 7/1/2014
Reviewed By:
JGBDPB ,

Bottom Line:
An excellent experience.
Recommendation:
Work Quality:
Cost Evaluation:
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Project Description & Comments:

We are absolutely delighted with Cullman Kravis. We hired the firm to redecorate our Florida home. For us, this is an extremely important project because it is a gift we are giving each other to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We could not be happier with the experience we have had with the firm.
At the outset, Ellie and her team developed an insightful understanding of our goals for the project, our tastes and the range of our design interests. Their recommendations have had character, consistency with our tastes, just the right “pitch,” balancing our desire for less formality with an appreciation for elegance and a cohesive design framework throughout our home. We are extremely enthusiastic about the design for every room in the house.
We have been greatly impressed by the people in Ellie’s organization and the systems the firm uses to manage its projects. Our team is staffed with very talented designers and project managers. Moreover, they are really nice people who have made the process enjoyable. The team’s work is supported by a rigorous management process. Scheduling, presentation of design proposals, estimating and project execution are well organized and properly staffed. Moreover, the budgeting and cost management process is thorough and transparent to the client. We have known where we stood on total project cost as decisions were made. When major expenditures were being considered, alternatives were often offered to achieve the same or similar goals at a lower cost.
It is evident that Ellie and her firm have access to a wide range of excellent resources. They seem to be able to find just the right thing to fit virtually any situation – whether it is an antique, a piece of custom designed furniture, fine art, or the wall finish for a room. Furthermore, they have established excellent relationships with many of the best artisans in this part of Florida. As a result, the client legitimately feels that their project has a unique character and that its execution has been accomplished with exceptional quality.
Ellie stays closely involved in our project. She is available whenever we want to talk to or meet with her. Consequently, we feel that the full and best resources of the firm are being utilized on our behalf.

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Posted 1/21/2014
Reviewed By:
frances new york, NY

Bottom Line:
They were excellent to work with, and I would choose them again in a heartbeat. They were fabulous to work with.
Recommendation:
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Cost Evaluation:
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Project Description & Comments:
Although most of your time is spent with Ellie's assistants, their taste and Ellie's is impecable. They make absolutely beautiful choices and are able to interpret your thoughts into reality. They are extremely organized and efficient. My vision was slightly different from their usual style and they executed it perfectly. My apartment is gorgeous, and I have received many compliments.
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