Ellie Cullman founded Cullman and Kravis 30 years ago. Born and raised in Brooklyn, where her family owns the renowned Peter Luger steak house, Ellie graduated Phi Beta Kappa magna cum laude from Barnard College and pursued East Asian Studies at Columbia Graduate School.
Since 2000, Ellie has been listed in the definitive “AD 100” Architectural Digest’s designated best designers and architects. Additionally, she was included in the AD list of “The Deans of American Design”, and was the recipient of the “Stars of Design” award at NYC’s D&D building. Along with longtime colleague, Tracey Pruzan, Ellie is the coauthor of “Decorating Master Class: The Cullman Kravis Way” (NY: Harry Abrams, 2008) and “The Detailed Interior: Decorating Up Close with Cullman & Kravis” (NY: Monacelli Press, 2013.) She has chaired a variety of antique shows such as the Metro show, Park Avenue Antiques Show, and the American Patrons Committee for Masterpiece in London.
A strong proponent of the arts, Ellie worked as an exhibition assistant at the Japan House Gallery and as a guest curator at The Museum of American Folk Art. She also co-curated two exhibitions at the museum: “Andy Warhol’s Folk and Funk” (co-writing the accompanying catalogue) and “Small Folk: A Celebration of Childhood in America” (co-writing the accompanying book which was published by E.P. Dutton.) In addition, she is currently a member of the Museum of Modern Art’s Contemporary council and sits on the boards of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Friends of Florence.
Ellie, along with the Design Partners, Lee Cavanaugh, Sarah De Palo, Claire Ratliff and Alyssa Urban, curated this inviting Living Room, graced with objects from the upcoming Sotheby’s Show House Auction.
Alyssa Urban is a New York City native and earned her BA in Interior Design at the University of Wisconsin. After living in Florence, Italy where she developed her antiquing skills, she began her career in television as a set designer for The Conan O’Brien and Dana Carvey shows, and eventually moved her talents to the interior design industry. After working for several noteworthy firms doing both hospitality and residential design, Alyssa came to Cullman and Kravis in 2000. She has completed significant residences such as a Georgian residence in Houston, a New Jersey estate in Horse Country, a Fifth Avenue Pied-a-terre, and a waterfront home in Sagaponack. Alyssa is known for layering her interiors with both traditional and modern elements and loves shopping the Art and Antique shows, seeking out up and coming artists, popping contemporary art within a traditional setting. She resides with her husband and young daughter in the city.
Claire Ratliff developed her love of interior design in her hometown Austin, exposed to classical Southern style through her mother, a designer and avid antique collector. After attending the University of Texas at Austin, Claire continued her studies as a graduate student in London where she became well versed in art history and design. After working for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, she joined C&K in 2001 where she has been a pivotal contributor to the firm’s success, highlighted by her designs for the Colorado Ranch and the historic John Volk home in Palm Beach, Florida. Recognized for her expertise in antiques, Claire is an annual participant in Europe’s finest antique shows and artfully marries architecture and furnishings in all spaces. She has a gift for color theory which is evident in the lively yet elegant residences she’s completed. Claire lives in New York City and enjoys traveling with friends and family.
Lee Cavanaugh, who grew up largely in Vermont, has been devoted to all aspects of the art world since an early age. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Art and Design at the University of Vermont, she furthered her creative talents at Parsons New School for Design in NYC where she studied Art and Architecture. Lee came to Cullman and Kravis in 1996 and has since headed a range of noteworthy projects including an estate in Connecticut, a duplex in New York City, and a Hampton vacation home—to name a few. She oversees the C&K fabric collection at Holland and Sherry and is a mastermind in flea market shopping, frequently traveling between New York, Connecticut, and Paris to find the most unique pieces for her clients. Lee is an active parent at her daughter’s school, enjoys designing textiles and furniture, and houses an impressive art collection in her New York City residence.
Sarah, a native from Richmond, Virginia graduated from Denison University with a BA in Studio Art and later received her Certificate in Fine and Decorative Arts from Christie’s Education in London. Her career began in the auction world where she worked for a reputable group of auction houses from Florence, Italy to Washington DC. She eventually landed in New York where she worked for Sotheby’s in both Client Services and the Contemporary Art Department for several years before coming to Cullman & Kravis in 2004. Sarah has given way to many remarkable yet comfortable interiors around the country. Most noteworthy, she has completed projects in a landmarked building in New York’s theater district, a historic pre-war apartment and is currently working on a waterfront property in Palm Beach. Living in the city with her husband, Sarah is an avid animal lover who is constantly fostering strays and volunteers weekly at the Animal Care & Control of NY.