Introspective Magazine

INTROSPECTIVE MAGAZINE

DESIGN STYLES

See the High-Style 1970s Home of a Renowned New York Preservationist

by Glenn Gissler
Photography by Joshua McHugh

We offer the first public peek at a Joe D’Urso–designed Upper West Side apartment that hasn’t been touched in 40 years — and discover the many lessons both the space and its owners, Arlene and Bruce Simon, have to teach.

Joe D’Urso — a pioneer of forward-looking, minimalist modernism — designed the apartment of Bruce and Arlene Simon on New York’s Upper West Side more than 40 years ago. Thanks to the Simons’ careful upkeep — she’s a well-known preservation advocate — it remains a study in sleek black, white and gray. Top: For the dining room, D’Urso created a modular table system (one leaf hangs from the wall when not in use, looking like an Ad Reinhardt painting deployed as bulletin board), and he added chairs in the style of Marcel Breuer’s 1920s Cesca design.

Even in the analog days of the 1970s, word traveled fast about a certain emerging and remarkably talented interiors star. His name was Joe D’Urso, and he was shaking up the design world.

I still remember the first time I saw his work, just after I graduated from high school and 10 years before I would start a design practice of my own. It was in Architectural Digest’s November/December 1976 issue, which featured a New York City home D’Urso had reinvented as an exemplar of High Tech design, the extreme minimalistmodernindustrial style that had become his signature. The Upper West Side apartment was unlike anything I had ever seen or imagined.

The space, located at the top of a West 67th Street Gothic-revival atelier building, was a four-bedroom duplex belonging to prominent labor lawyer Bruce Simon and his wife, Arlene Simon, a childrenswear designer who in 1985 would cofound the trailblazing neighborhood preservation group LandmarkWest!. In creating the apartment’s design, D’Urso used the most limited palette of colors and materials and the fewest pieces of furniture possible. He covered the floors in nearly black commercial-grade carpeting of a sort not usually associated with residential design, contrasting its dark hue and low, nubby texture with smooth high-gloss white paint. This he used on every paintable surface, from the wood paneling and balusters to the built-in cabinets, doors, walls, beams and ceilings.

His design for the home’s soaring main space, a double-height living room overlooked by a balcony originally intended to accommodate musical performances, felt radically new.

He furnished the space sparsely, with a few blocky, rolling black-Formica coffee tables and a couple of low-slung woven chairs set on a high carpeted platform. That plinth was one of several he created to break up and define various sections of the room, using one as a sofa, another as a daybed, and one even as a table. To help balance out the cavernous volume, D’Urso suspended a large split-leaf philodendron on wires from the ceiling, and Arlene added black canvas pillows to the extended built-in sofa, with more on the daybed near the fireplace.

Read the full Article on 1stdibs.com

 

Book and Room

BOOK AND ROOM

JANUARY 2020

Decorative arts historian Lisa Zeiger wrote an interesting article entitled VOTIVE OFFERINGS: GLENN GISSLER AT RISD about my relationship with my alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, and more specifically with the RISD Museum, on her blog BOOK AND ROOM.

As a RISD alum, former board member, and devoted museum donor, it’s been my goal to help give students and visitors the opportunity to experience and draw inspiration from the museum’s collection. Lisa’s post chronicles my decades-long quest to donate notable fine art, industrial design and decorative objects to the RISD Museum, with a personal goal of bequeathing 1000 objects in total. You can read the post by following this link

I lived with many of these items in my NYC apartment before they found a new home at the RISD Museum, including a partners desk with two chairs by Donald Judd, and works on paper by Kiki SmithSol LewittLeon Golub, and Vija Celmins. I also have passed along objects by the 19th century industrial designer Christopher Dresser, and 20th century objects by Josef HoffmannEttore Sottsass, Joe Columbo and Russel Wright.

You’ll find just a selection of my notable donations to the museum below, and if you’re so inclined, you can follow this link to the museum’s website, which shows many more with descriptions and details.

This essay is about a plentiful cache of the most rarefied—and sometimes recondite—decorative art objects produced in the last two centuries contained in architect-designer Glenn Gissler’s applied arts trove. Since 1984, Glenn has been gifting these objets to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art in an effort to augment the RISD Museum’s modern design collection. Glenn himself holds degrees in both Fine Art and Architecture from RISD, and the 200 or so smaller objects he has donated to the RISD Museum reflect an architect’s discipline; a connoisseur’s delectation.

Visit the full article at bookandroom.com

On Style

On Style

SEPTEMBER 2019

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On Style:

Inspiration and Advice from a New Generation of Interior Design

by Carl Dellatore
Photography by Gross & Daley

CRAIG STRULOVITZ

Growing up with an interest in all things creative, Craig Strulovitz started watercolor-painting classes at age five. Throughout his childhood, he spent as much time as possible studying the arts: drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, and all things visual.

Strulovitz always had a fascination with rooms; one of his favorite places to visit as a child was his grandfather’s home office. He was a custom-home builder, and Strulovitz would spend hours flipping through floor plans, trying to visualize the spaces and designing the “perfect” house in his head.

After earning an undergraduate degree in interior architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design, Strulovitz settled in New York City, where he found a position at Glenn Gissler Design. He honed his skills under Gissler’s mentorship; thirteen years later he holds the position of senior designer at the firm.

 

“Good design should be dynamic, always changing and evolving.”

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Upon entering this apartment, you first see a bold composition featuring Theodoros Stamos’s 1946 painting The Sacrifice above a circa-1830 Chinese altar table. The pair of upholstered stools are covered in a soft green fabric to complement the palette in the adjacent rooms. The composition Is completed by a curated arrangement of objects, Including a rustre African sculpture and a Tiffany Studios candlestick.

 

FROM: West Milford, New Jersey

LOCATED IN: New York, New York

INFLUENCES: The pioneering early­ twentieth-century modern designers and architects, such as Josef Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, and Carlo Scarpa. These innovators moved away from decoration and ornamentation to focus more on proportion, superb natural materials, patterns, and textures.

THE LOOK: Modern interiors inspired by historical design movements.

COLOR: I prefer colors from nature­–the bright green of new-growth leaves in the spring or the deep blues of the ocean on a clear day.

KEY ELEMENT: A well-designed room starts with having a great furniture plan. When beginning the design process, think about the function of each space and develop a layout incorporating all of those functions.

ALWAYS HAVE: A well-considered seating arrangement that feels inviting for one person, but can easily accommodate large groups. Get the best-quality, most comfortable sofa your budget will allow. Then incorporate smaller chairs and ottomans that can be easily moved around for a variety of different-size groups.

INSPIRATION: I often find inspiration in the composition of extraordinary artwork. In interior design, like any visual art, you need to pay attention to shape and proportion, balance, and harmony among the elements. There must be exciting elements that pull your focus but also negative space for your eyes to rest on.

NEVER FORGET: Storage. If you have thirty pairs of shoes or five hundred books, you should know where they are going to go. When everything has its place, your design will feel resolved and successful.

 

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Opposite: The open-plan dining area has a large mirror to further expand the feeling of space. Above the dining table hangs an organic Lindsey Adelman Branching Bubble chandelier to contrast with the square-edged furniture in dark-stained walnut.

Above: The large and vibrant painting by Larry Poons above the custom sofa adds an element of surprise to the room’s neutral palette. The sofa is flanked by a pair of 1950s Italian lamps with an ombré glaze.

Right: To create a distinction between spaces. the family room was painted a soft green, complementing the background color of prints by Jo Baer on the walls. A white Nelson Saucer pendant adds a rich luminosity to the space.

I + D

I + D

JULY / AUGUST 2019

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Modern Antiquity

Design pros discuss antiques in modern design-revealing their conscious footprint, lifting the veil on their intricate nuances, and moving past their typecast role as passé objects

by Cara Gibbs

Antiques tend to have a complicated reputation. On the one hand, they’ve been perceived as a status symbol for the ultra-wealthy, surviving relics
of generations past that are ripe with history and saturated by distinguishable style. And, on the other, they’re begrudged hand-me-downs, misfit furnishings that seem to never quite conform to current design standings.

That leads to the question: Can heirloom pieces be considered revolutionary in their design once they’ve passed their prime? Indeed, it’s the very fact that they’ve stood the test of time and become an heirloom that makes them so. To expose these ancient beauties as the modern marvels they are, we turned to our experts in the field to help navigate us through the sometimes confusing, and often misinformed, landscape of antique acquisition.

Date Book

Perhaps the best place to start is by defining the terms. What is an antique? Kicking off the conversation is Ernest Johnson of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada­based Ernest Johnson Antiques, as well as a member and spokesperson for the Canadian Antique Dealers Association (CADA). Johnson explains that “for something to be referred to in the true sense of the word as being ‘antique,’ it would have to have been manufactured over 100 years ago, whereas something regarded as being ‘vintage’ would be roughly 50 years old.”

Johnson continues, “In dating an item, the word ‘circa’ is sometimes used, which is understood to mean the item was made within approximately 10 years of a stated date, e.g., ‘circa 1850’ meaning the item was made between 1840 and 1860.”

Toma Clark Haines. proprietor of the innovative platform The Antiques  Diva & Co, also weighs in, questioning, “What’s in a word? Technically speaking when it comes to antiques and vintage, we [in the industry] use a variety of evolving terms. Because antique items are not taxed, the [former] United States Customs Service [now known as U.S. Customs and Border Protection] set a rule in 1966 that to be classified antique, [an item] must be 100-years-or-older to keep people from claiming things as antiques that actually weren’t. Not all antique dealers abide by the 100-year rule; some will [claim] anything between 80- and 100-years-old.” Clark Haines also notes anything over 20-years-old is often labeled “vintage.”

 

Historical Reference

With terms and timelines in place, we can begin to explore the allure of buying old. Eloquently expressed by New York­based interior designer Glenn Gissler, “History offers a context for the world around us, which provides meaning beyond form and patina.”

For Gissler, it’s been the discovery of architecture that has cemented his knowledge of history. “It wasn’t until I studied architectural history and I could see, for example, townhouses in Boston with mansard roofs that were more or less built during the Civil War, that I really retained historical information,” he recalls. “Suddenly, architecture and objects began to provide tangible evidence of another time and place.” A sentiment that resonates deeply, down to the city we live in, the environments we frequent, and, of course, the place we call home.

An investment in vintage and antiques is a window into the past-a peak into a bygone era combined with craftsmanship not always seen today. But, the question begs: How do antiques stray from their simplified role as Grandma’s inherited hutch or Great Aunt Joan’s stately Louis XVI Bergere Chairs into modern complements? Johnson explains: “After 30 consecutive years in the antiques trade, I’m acutely aware of the generational changes that have impacted the antiques market and, in effect, brought about
the misconception of new and/or young buyers that antiques are stuffy, fussy, and clunky hangovers from the past. This misunderstanding is largely due to … not taking time to research the history and evolution of design periods, such as Biedermeier, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, etc., for then they would discover design elements that complement and seamlessly integrate into a modern living space, often in their simplicity of design and sometimes purely by their juxtaposition.”

 

Consciously Speaking

“Designers need to be curators-good designers will always operate outside of trends, and find fresh ways to reuse existing furniture, and use beautiful items in the marketplace from all eras,” says Gissler. It’s in recognizing the conscious footprint and unique intrinsic value antiques impart onto the desigr world that their modern dexterity comes to light.

“The evolution of antiques brings equality,” states Clark Haines. “In the past, antiques were for a select group of people, the upper class who had entire period rooms of a certain price point and echelon. Now, antiques are for everyone. You’re as likely to use antiques in your bedroom as you are [in) your living room. Antique dealers in North America have caught on to this wave, that it’s all about the mix, and most dealers no longer specialize only in one style, period, or country of origin.” In contrast, she expounds upon the European market where “the concept of antiques for everyone has always been true. Peek inside a classic English country house or a Parisian apartment and there is a mix of family heirlooms that lend history to their decor. In North America, the family tradition of passing down furniture to the next generation is not as embedded in our culture, so most people are buying their antiques, not inheriting them.”

That being said, buyers have definitely gotten the message that antiques are green-their superior craftsmanship has allowed them to sustain decades of use. According to Clark Haines, “Decorating with antiques not only adds a unique individual element to your home decor, offering a better value for the money over mass-produced interior goods, but it also helps save our environment. Plus, financially they are a wise investment, holding their value when new goods do not.” 

Gissler continues shedding a light on the acquisition aspect of antique buying. “I have found that antique and/or vintage furniture dealers can be amazing resources for historical knowledge, which can be reflected in incredible inventory. They are relentlessly curious seekers of special items and love to give new life to items that may have been forgotten,” he says. Johnson also illuminates the influence of the design industry on antiques, noting, “The interior design and architect community are important components in the sense they nurture and facilitate their clients’ desire to acquire contemporary and antique elements, as well as create compelling living spaces tailored to today’s lifestyles.”

Truly the first form of reusable design, antiques have long made modern strides, despite appearing contradictory to their very essence. Because of their provenance and typically long stretch of time since conception, antiques are seldom seen as modern, but, conversely, they have proven to hold their own through the ebbs and flows of the interiors world. “I don’t think enough is made note of the ‘green’ element regarding antiques,” states Johnson. “When cultivating interest within young or new collectors and buyers, dealers need to reinforce the fact that purchasing antiques is the original form of recycling and repurposing. For example, the mandate for CADA is stated on our homepage as ‘Preserving, Promoting & Selling Fine Antiques … ,’ with an emphasis on Preserving.”

Gissler notes while the green aspect of buying pre-owned furniture is obvious, it’s not typically the pitch he makes to clients about antiques or vintage items. “Rather,” the designer says, “I compare the cost and value of new showroom items versus what we can find in the pre-owned marketplace and there
is often no comparison. While the hunt may be more challenging, the results are often much better!” Clark Haines sums it up with a simple truth: “When you invest in the past, you’re investing in a sustainable future.”

ASID NY METRO

NEW YORK METRO ASID

SUMMER 2019

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The Art Adventure:

Taking a Project from Good to Memorable

by Glenn Gissler
Photography by Gross & Daley

My personal adventure with art began decades ago in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In my local high school I was fortunate to take eight semesters of art with outstanding teachers. I learned about art history, experimented with many art-making techniques and became a member of a tribe of art freaks—it was the 1970s.

For us, Art was an adventure worth living! For me, this interest, passion, even affliction, has been a big part of my life ever since. Now, after many years of college study, countless experiences making, seeing and living with art, traveling across the US and Europe for art-centric travels I have found that Fine Art is the single most important ‘character lending’ element of interior design and can take a project from good, to memorable!

Some thoughts on Art

Fine Art can be MUCH more than just decoration. In addition to visual delight, Fine Art can bring cultural, historical intellectual and philosophical meaning to an environment and can impact the way we see and experience the world.

The primary reason to own and live with art is the immeasurable richness it can add to life, and while art can increase in value—enjoyment should be the primary goal. That said, many of my client’s acquisitions have increased in value, some substantially!

Context deeply informs the experience of Fine Art. For me the ubiquitous all white gallery walls is not a neutral environment to see and experience art, and I’m often delightfully surprised how much better art can look in a home.

“Many people have asked me how they can learn more about Art in New York City.”

 

The first thing is you need to put in the time. LOOK at and EXPERIENCE ART! Go to museums! New York City has some of the best museums in the world with remarkable collections and exhibitions—this is one of the reasons I moved here, and I try to integrate regular art viewing into my schedule—great for dates, fun with friends and can be a starting point for other activities for your days, or nights.

Go to art galleries!
There are literally hundreds of galleries in New York City whatever your interests are—while your budget may not allow for buying ‘blue chip’ looking is free and seeing the best to help educate your eye, and your taste.s

Go to auction previews!
New York City is home to some of the most important auction houses in the world and they have previews for nearly every auction; they are free and there are always experts on-hand to answer your questions. Sothebys, Christies, Bonhams and Philips regularly have auctions—learn what the categories mean to narrow your focus on what really interests you.

Go to art fairs!
Art Fairs have become an increasingly important venue to see and purchase art; and New York City has a lot of art fairs. While it can be a fantastic “shopping opportunity” because you can see a lot of art from a lot of galleries all under one roof, they can be overwhelming experiences. Unfortunately, art fairs are really not great places to have a ‘high Art’ experience as the purpose is less about art and more about “art commerce,” and they can be incredibly crowded making viewing and access to the dealers themselves a challenge.

Sign up for mailing lists!
Museums, art galleries and auction houses all have mailing lists that will alert you whenever there is a new exhibition, openings and other special events.

Read the ARTS Section of the newspaper, purchase books, and magazines!
I always want to learn more when an experience or artist moves me. I often purchase museum catalogues, gallery exhibitions catalogues, or monographs.

The Friday ARTS Section of the New York Times is an excellent way to learn what is going on as well as the Sunday Art Section, and magazines such as Art Forum or Art News can alert you to exhibitions, or offer some in depth stories.

And for a comprehensive overview of what is on view right now, pick up a Gallery Guide or go to www.Galleriesnow.net.

Glenn Gissler, ASID is past president (2017-2018) of the ASID NY Metro Chapter and Principal of Glenn Gissler Design