Some of the most exciting design elements in strip high-rise living right now are high-tech, custom pieces.
Benson Riseman's home in Veer Towers.
When businessman Benson Riseman moved to Las Vegas from Los Angeles a few years ago, he knew he wanted to be on the Strip. “I like the vibe,” he says. “It’s great for entertaining.” In the name of putting his own stamp on his living space, he snapped up a gray shell space in the 37-floor Veer Towers in CityCenter. And because he knew he wouldn’t be interested in selling the property, he went for a design he calls “fearless.”
The view couldn’t be better—a corner penthouse that faces north and east, with 13-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that offer sumptuous views of the Strip and the eastern Valley and are so clear that you approach them with a touch of caution. “Nothing gets in the way of the view,” he says.
The home took three years to build, a custom job by LA designer Nicole Sassaman and local companies Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto Architects (702-251-8896) and Merlin Contracting & Developing (702-257-8102). A Swiss Army knife of a residence, it’s designed with three sleeping quarters but also the ability to be opened up for entertaining and hosting charity events. And virtually everything, from the furniture to the tub to the art, is one of a kind.
Customizing spaces, at the high end, certainly seems to be a growing trend. “Most definitely we see a fair amount of that in the homes we list,” says Jamie Lium, managing broker at Shapiro & Sher. “There’s no question that is something people literally install in heir homes and it’s going to bring added value if they leave it.”
Chairs hang from the ceiling by the east window.
To create a sunken living room and bedroom, the rest of the 3,300-square-foot condo was built on risers. The ceilings were dropped to make room for an oval-shaped recession in the ceiling sprayed with mica stone that changes colors.
The condo’s high-tech sense of whimsy is apparent the moment you approach the front door. The door talks as you walk up to it: “Welcome, please ring the doorbell.” The chime itself comes from The Jetsons. But the door is a clever stunt—because the real entrance is actually seamlessly hidden in a concrete-looking panel on the corridor, so it’s a jolt when the wall opens up several feet away from what you thought was the front door.
Step inside and you’re greeted by a black wall with back-lit text—in Riseman’s own handwriting—that highlights key words that are important to him, such as “home,” “happiness,” “friends,” and “adventure,” and can change colors or cascade into a rainbow of hues. Created by Vegas-based Yesco Sign and Lighting Service, the wall is the ultimate in personalization.
The amount of custom craftsmanship is obsessive and delightful. Six televisions pivot across the space, ensuring a good view from anywhere; one even descends from the ceiling in the master bedroom.
The chandelier over the table evokes a slowed-down explosion of porcelain china.
A chandelier made of shards of broken china is made to look like an explosion of porcelain captured by a high-speed camera. There’s a curving full-height glass wine cellar. Nearby, a full-service onyx bar includes a pullout chrome table that can be positioned anywhere in the house.
In a guest suite, a coffee table can be manually lifted up to conference table height; another coffee table is a subwoofer in disguise; a transparent guest bathroom counter has a porcelain bird’s nest buried inside; and the master bathtub was carved from a hunk of stone pulled out of a New Mexico mountain.
Custom pieces like these—deeply idiosyncratic artistic statements—are becoming more common. Marsha Timson, director of the Las Vegas Design Center, explains, “We want to mix styles. So if we have this piece we can tell a story about, it’s adding interest to our lifestyle.” Minimalist décor tends to look the same. Now, she says, “People want a conversation piece.”
Despite the bravura flourishes, what one remembers is the sense of intimacy. In fact, Lium notes that people are turning toward smaller-scale, resort-corridor condo living. “There are people who don’t want that huge house commitment, but they want access to Vegas.”
In the guest suite, two short half-staircases lead to small spaces below the main floor and above—both with walls of glass. The lower one is a great spot for Riseman’s 2-year-old grandson to play; the upper one is a place to take in the whole condo or to, for a moment, escape from it.
“I had envisioned using this place as really a center for entertainment,” Riseman says, “a center for friendship and comfort.”