Quality, Visual Interest, and Editing

In the apartment’s entryway, an arresting painted-wood Lanna Thai Buddhist manuscript holder, which once held contemplative texts, now provides a surface to display an ever-changing montage of books, flowers, and object d’art. The ink-on-newspaper drawing above is by the Vietnamese artist Dinh Y Nhi.

In the entryway to a collector’s apartment we designed, an arresting painted-wood Lanna Thai Buddhist manuscript holder, which once held contemplative texts, was part of the homeowner’s collection. It now provides a surface to display an ever-changing montage of books, flowers, and object d’art. The ink-on-newspaper drawing above is by the Vietnamese artist Dinh Y Nhi.

Photos by Gross & Daley

When potential clients approach us, they have ideas about how they want to live in their new (or newly renovated) home. In a series of phone calls and meetings, we work to understand that vision, paying close attention to detail. 

Next, we work to discover deeper information such as specific color preferences, how they imagine entertaining guests–and how often, and their relationship with the art they already own.

This interview process is vital for understanding a client’s needs and aspirations long before we consider any structural changes to their space, furniture plans, textiles, or lighting. 

Occasionally we are approached by clients who have collected furnishings, object d’art, and decorative artifacts from traveling, as was the case with our Bachelor’s Apartment. The homeowner has spent decades traversing the globe–zealously discovering and collecting from newly explored cultures. He asked that we incorporate some of his collection into our new design.

“We want to give clients a new home with carefully edited pieces that reflect their lives in a way that brings joy.”

– Glenn Gissler

For some decorators, this creates a challenge because they strive to control the entire creative process; wherever possible, we take a more relaxed approach.

But we have been hired to give them a “new” home, not just a rearrangement of their existing furnishings, which means change. So we study existing pieces, focusing on their quality and visual interest to see where they can enhance a new scheme. We want to give clients a new home with carefully edited pieces that reflect their lives in a way that brings joy.

A Chinese scroll painted by Shanghai-born, Singapore-based artist Hong Zhu takes pride of place above an expansive four-seat sofa in the style of Jean Michel Frank, which is upholstered in lush velvet.  Framed and hung in landscape format, the work creates a horizon, establishing a dialogue with the striped club chair seen to the left. The small Isamu Noguchi lamp enhances the linear motif. The Choros Chandelier, designed by Barry Goralnick, strikes a serpentine counterpoint.

A Chinese scroll painted by Shanghai-born, Singapore-based artist Hong Zhu takes pride of place above an expansive four-seat sofa in the style of Jean Michel Frank, which is upholstered in lush velvet.  Framed and hung in landscape format, the work creates a horizon, establishing a dialogue with the striped club chair seen to the left. The small Isamu Noguchi lamp enhances the linear motif. The Choros Chandelier, designed by Barry Goralnick, strikes a serpentine counterpoint.

Another critical consideration is the sentimentality connected to belongings. We try to be particularly sensitive to deeply personal pieces–like an object handed down through generations. 

In Carl Dellatore’s book, Interior Design Master Class, I wrote about my views on design alchemy, “Alchemists have existed in every major civilization—along with great artists and artisans— all engaged in an attempt to transform base metals into gold. Similarly, a good designer possesses a knowledge of elements that, when amalgamated, create magic in an interior.”

So when a client brings objects to the table, we study them to see where we can create an alchemical spark by mixing them with newly acquired pieces–establishing a moment of excitement larger than the sum of a room’s parts.

A pair of Korean blanket chests, one taller than the other, serve as bedside tables in the master bedroom. The walls are sheathed in muted sapphire and are complemented by the terracotta-toned pic-stitched bed cover. A seagrass area rug and a canvas by Southeast Asian artist Eric Chan anchor the room.

A pair of Korean blanket chests, one taller than the other, serve as bedside tables in the primary bedroom. The walls are sheathed in muted sapphire and are complemented by the terracotta-toned pic-stitched bed cover. A seagrass area rug and a canvas by Southeast Asian artist Eric Chan anchor the room.

 

One final advantage to incorporating vintage and antique furnishings in a new design is that they lend a historical narrative. That has immense value because successful rooms appear collected over a lifetime of experience and adventure versus spaces that feel “placed” there on the installation day. 

The intricately painted surface of a table purchased on vacation to Thailand, several toss pillows fashioned from a centuries-old Persian Suzani, or a pair of Chinese urns repurposed as lamps: these historical notes that you won’t find in a space principally populated with newly manufactured pieces.



Ten Steps to Creating your Own Personal Space

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I recently had the pleasure of joining my friend and client Steven Shalowitz as a guest on his popular podcast, The One Way Ticket Show.
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If you haven’t tuned in, Steven’s show has an interesting premise: He engages an extremely broad range of guests from journalist Charles Osgood, to politico Anthony Scaramucci, to fashion icon Tim Gunn, to entrepreneur India Hicks, religious leaders, writers, educators, and many others, typically ending the conversation with the question about where they would go with a one-way ticket to, any place in space or time. Destinations may be in the past, present, future, real, or imagined with no chance of coming back.
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To mark the 10th anniversary of “The One Way Ticket Show” podcast, Steven is doing an entire themed series with the premise of a “One Way Ticket to Optimal Mental, Physical and Spiritual Well-Being.”
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Having been through the process of creating Steven’s home in New York City, I was happy to discuss and share my thoughts on creating your own personal space. You can follow this link to tune into our conversation.
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And while we are on the subject of personal spaces–here’s the dining room in my historic Brooklyn Heights duplex. I invite you to join me on a virtual tour of the rest of my home by clicking on the image, or by following this link.
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Melvin Dwork – An Honorable Man

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I don’t recall when I first saw the interior design work of Melvin Dwork, it might have been in the 1970’s in Architectural Digest; his work had a big impact on me. I remember it to be current with both minimalist and ‘high-tech’ sensibilities, but it also included select antiques (and even some color) to create spare yet rich environments that were ‘his alone‘. Time and time again I would be drawn to his work…

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Lindsey Adelman: 10 Years (with love) and Counting!

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For creative people, inspiration can be found almost anywhere.

At the Rhode Island School of Design all students are required to look at nature, not just a passing glance but to REALLY LOOK, to understand what is at work on a structural level. This is encouraged in a magical place now called the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab.  Edna Lawrence founded the Nature lab in 1937, and it has served as inspiration for many, many generations of art and design students at RISD.

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In discussions I had with fellow RISD alumnus and lighting designer Lindsey Adelman while mocking-up an enormous custom chandelier in a Greenwich Village home project, her profound connection to the innate understanding of structure, learned in the Nature Lab, became very clear to me.

Lindsey’s lighting designs are a wonderful combination of fine engineering and hand-craftsmanship, culminating in fixtures that have the essential structural characteristics found in nature.

But there’s more….

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Art Adventures: B&W Wonders at The Armory Show

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Each year I allocate at least one entire day to immerse myself in the wonders at The Armory Show and VOLTA art fairs where historically I am looking for works for my clients – or myself – however, this year the experience was purely for pleasure.

I took photos of dozens of works that caught my eye for a variety of reasons. Reviewing the images I saw different ways to bring some order to the rich chaos; this post focuses on works that are Black & White both representation and abstract… (more…)

Happy New Year!

 
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Artist Yoko Ono built a memorial called the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER for her late husband, John Lennon, on an island off of Reykjavik, Iceland “which emanates wisdom, healing and joy. It communicates awareness to the whole world that peace & love is what connects all lives on Earth.”
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And it captures my feeling and wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2016, for us all.
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To learn more about the memorial, follow this link to the website, or this link to a live earthcam stream of the tower.
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Happy New Year!

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