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

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

American Lifestyle




Glenn Gissler: Interior Alchemist

by Rebecca Poole
Photography by Gross & Daley

Some interior designers focus on art and history, some on architecture, and some on furnishings. Glenn Gissler is a designer who blends them all into awe-inspiring interior spaces that transcend trends, putting them in a category all their own. Gissler talks about why art plays such a vital role in his work, his approach to bringing a client’s vision to life, and how his latest Westchester, New York, project came to be.

How did you get started in design, and what led you to being so passionate about pursuing this as a career?
When I was just thirteen, I publicly declared to my class that I wanted to be an interior designer. I only knew of one interior designer at the time—a friend of my mother. She was a creative spirit and a painter, and she really inspired me. That was the beginning of a journey that went on to include seven years of college when I studied American architectural history and historic preservation, culminating with two degrees from Rhode Island School of Design, where I studied architecture and fine arts. Growing up in Wisconsin, there wasn’t much in terms of historic architecture—not like there was in New England. This was the time before the internet, so I was snooping around in books to learn as much as I could. My father was a journalist, with one of his focuses looking at the rebirth of American cities, so we had a lot of books around on the topic. This idea of adaptive reuse—finding a new purpose for old buildings—was a provocative and ‘new’ idea that caught my imagination, and this would go on to influence my design approach.

How would you describe your signature style?
I’ve been in the business now for thirty years, and I see design more as a complex layering of textiles and objects—it’s about problem solving. You combine grace and ease with how you live, with one foot in history and one foot in today’s world. If I had to describe my style, I’d go off what others have described it as: American. I also incorporate multicultural objects and textiles to create a spatial and visual dialogue that’s interesting.

What has been your favorite project to work on, and why?
There are a couple of projects from twenty-five years ago that are still on my website that I still see as relevant today. They’re evidence that, when you love your clients and your projects and make thoughtful decisions not based on trends, your work can endure over time. There are oftentimes conceptual challenges involved, because it’s not simply a matter of buying furniture and taking pretty pictures—you’re crafting a lifestyle that is beautiful, compelling, and makes functional sense. Projects I find really engaging are those where I work with people who want some assistance inventing the next chapter of their home lives with me.

How do you handle challenges that arise?
I’m lucky to have a team of people who helps me address challenges. Fundamentally, interior design is about isolating what the problems are and coming up with solid and sometimes clever solutions. And the solution needs to be aesthetically pleasing while having functionality. It requires a certain amount of creativity to take, say, a space with a dining room that no one uses, and turn it into something else. It’s not about leaving my mark that says, “Glenn was here!” No, it’s about seeing what’s right for the space and the client. There can be challenges with older houses because the architecture was not designed for today’s living. How do you make a living room livable so it’s not sitting empty until the holidays? I try to have things make sense through a twenty-first-century point of view while keeping the historic elements alive.

What is your process like, especially with clients who have a very specific vision for their space?
In the pre-internet days, people had tear sheets they had accumulated over time and things they wanted, like a “fantasy country house.” These images are useful to see, but I’m really much more interested in hearing about the house they grew up in and where they see their lives in five years. Kids will be older, so do you want a more private space, or do you want to have the house that everyone wants to hang out in? This is the kind of information I like to gather in our initial conversation. I try to make it about the broader view, too, like if someone lives in a colonial revival but wants a modern look to it. People get overwhelmed by choices, so I try to keep the bigger vision at the center. Even if you hired five different interior designers, my philosophy is that the owner should still be at the core. The project should go through the filter of the interior designer rather than looking like every home the designer has in his or her portfolio.

The sunroom became a real destination within the home. It’s colonial revival, but their taste is contemporary, so it’s about trying to bridge the gap between the two.


What about living and working in New York City inspires you the most?
I’ve been in New York since the mid-‘80s. I lived in Greenwich Village before moving to Brooklyn Heights, where I reside now. I’ve always been an art collector and an object collector, and I’m constantly moving things in my home from one place to another to keep them dynamic and engaging. My office is near the Flatiron Buildings, where it’s remained for over twenty years. The architecture and street life around that area have so much vitality. You hear Europeans say, “There’s so much energy in New York!” But, to be honest, I have become a bit immune to it after being here for so many years. Social media helps because it keeps my seemingly insatiable curiosity alive. My brain sees thousands upon thousands of images a week, so it’s constantly swirling with new ideas. When I’m working on a project and stuck about a chandelier, for example, I go look at my 100+ Pinterest boards, which gives me that conceptual turbocharge to se and consider an idea differently.

Describe the Westchester house and what your main inspiration was behind designing it:
It’s a large house in Chappaqua, New York. It was built in the 1920s, with a terrific addition put on much later than that made parts of the house unnecessary. They didn’t use the living room or the sunroom, so I suggested architectural corrections that made them much more functional and appealing spaces. The sunroom became a real destination within the home. It’s colonial revival, but their taste is contemporary, so the project was about trying to bridge the gap between the two. What we started with was extremely monochromatic and very beige; I wanted to move on from that and add elements that made for a richer and more dynamic environment. They’re living a version of the American dream—I wanted to show that!

The artwork and the accessories in this home seem to be the focal points. What was your strategy for making this happen?
The single most important thing about interior design is artwork. I view it as Art with a capital A. Their kitchen has an enormous island with huge walls, and it all seemed kind of cool. I hung a collection of antique botanicals from the nineteenth century—they gave the kitchen a fresh look. The stairwell features framed artwork by their three kids, which breathes color and joy into the space. We bought really fantastic pieces for other areas of the house. I’ve been going to museums and art galleries since I was sixteen, and it filters into the homes I design. For this home, I kept the design manful with aspects of history and art but maintained a look that makes sense with their lifestyle.

What was your favorite room to design in the house?
The living room has a grand piano, which makes it really special, and it can accommodate a lot of people in many different ways. But I have to say the sunroom is my favorite. It’s a brightly lit room all year round, with a mix of both historic and modern elements.

There are a lot of bold colors, as well as warmer, neutral tones. How do you find that balance between the two in order to create a space that looks cohesive?
When it comes to color, I like to incorporate items that you can change out without having to start from scratch—like throw pillows, chairs, or artwork. Rugs and sofas cost a fortune, so those need to be solid color decisions that endure the test of time. No matter what the budget is, everything you’re spending matters. It’s important to keep in mind that tastes are constantly evolving. You don’t want to make decisions that three years from now will make you wonder, “Why did I do that?”

What have you learned from the mentors in your life? What advice would you give aspiring interior designers?
My first employer was a designer named Juan Montoya. He was on Architectural Digest’s first Top 100 list and has been since it started. I saw how he ran his business and said, “I can do this.” He gave me that entrepreneurial spirit and relentless curiosity. I look up to people who—whether I know them or not—maintain a curiosity about art, history, and things both old and new. I think it’s vital for aspiring designers to see what’s around every corner—be curious! At the end of the day, you still have to pick out chairs, but always try to inspire people with your work.

Cultured Lifestyle Magazine


MAY / JUNE 2018


A Man of all Seasons

by Project Senior Designer, Craig Strulovitz
Interior Design: Glenn Gissler 
Photography: Gross & Daley

Not all professional interior designers have a signature ‘look,’ a Brand to call their own. Some have cleared the hurdle—Glenn Gissler being one—a designer who brings his own perspective and profession.


Layer architecture, 20th-century art, literature, fashion, historic preservation, architectural history and immediately you see Gissler’s expertise is not just interior design.

His interests and knowledge manifest the diversity of the work–exquisitely crafted and integrated into the architecture of the space.

Recently celebrating a 30th anniversary, Gissler has authenticated that he is a designer bringing a culminated perspective to the profession. The work is diverse.

What makes his work so special, is his ability to marry architectural concept with curator sensibility—a reverence for fabric, mixed with natural lighting—ultimately Gissler and client create environments built and nuanced around personalities and needs.

This project from a Colorado couple with a fantasy of the Ottoman Empire, richly figured carpets and ornaments for their two bedroom apartment in a 1920’s Greenwich Village building.

Gissler and Senior Designer Craig Strulovitz decided to articulate the room separations using casings, moldings, and portieres to create a greater sense of sequence to the rooms. To further emphasize room separations, the color palette colorations were changed from one room to the other, with a livid lacquered cinnabar as the color in the entry. Judiciously placed mirrors expanded and lightened the spaces.

Very interested in vintage textiles, the clients wanted to create a warm and rich oasis for the time they spent in NYC. Gissler introduced a layering of Persian rugs and embroidered or tapestry wall-hangings. A selection of patterned textiles, woven or embroidered rather than printed, and often antique in appearance, are carefully juxtaposed. Many of the upholstery and pillow fabrics are actually new, but they have a luscious, aged look.

The result is not a recreated Turkish Interior, but a place where imagined and actual travel meet the incomparable comfort of home in this case, a second home in one of the most charming neighborhoods New York City has to offer.

NOTEBOOK: The entry was lacquered in the Farrow and Ball color Loggia. Upon entering the apartment you are greeted by an 18th Century English oak chest of drawers placed in front of an oversized copper clad mirror, used to display an array of curated objects including a brutalist lamp and tramp art box. The room also includes a fantastic work by artist Giorgio Morandi.

The dining room became a Library Area which can be used for occasional entertaining, centered upon the Empire round table the clients brought from Colorado. The vintage chairs are from an Art Deco ocean liner. Meant to be flexible, the table may be set up as a dining table, buffet, or bar. At right, a portiere in Kavet’s double-sided “interweave” fabric marks the separation from the bedroom.

In the living room is an antique Tabriz area rug with stylized floral pattern in indigo and cream, is keynote of this richly patterned and textured room. The custom Belgian sofa is from Jonas. Interesting objects—two Paris of mounted oryx horns; a cross-legged Aesthetic Movement table—add detail and depth. Boudin armchairs upholstered by Jonas in Bellinger’s vibrant Paprika “Pasha” velvet flank the exquisite late 17th century English crewel embroidery with exotic floral motif, from Fuller’s Fine Art Auction. The antique Korean blanket chest made of elmwood with original iron hardware, severs as a shared table.

A Victorian Eastlake side table, in the sitting room, is juxtaposed with a pair of Dorothy Draper walnut tables from Assemblage, Ltd. The long English roll arm sofa in charcoal linen is from Restoration Hardware. The Patrick Naggar candle scones for Pucci are modern, yet Thomas Edison-like, of blown glass, with barequartz bulbs. Photograph above the sofa is by Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Paint and light fixtures were used to transform the white kitchen to a warm and inviting gathering space.

The master bedroom is nothing less than sumptuous and enveloped in a soft green palette. The walls are papered in a Fiori pattern by Rose Tarlow, woodwork is painted with Farrow and Ball ‘Lichen,’ the curtains and portiere as a custom made from Corragio fabric in the same pale teal. Above the upholstered headboard hangs a vintage textile, from the clients own collection, printed on velvet.

Lighting & Decor

Lighting and Decor



Last Look photos by Gross & Daley


Last Look

Clients come to Glenn Gissler for his style, but they stay for his art expertise. The New York-based designer goes above and beyond to help his clients choose artwork for their homes and has sage advice to share: Never buy artwork on vacation! See how Gissler composed this Chelsea loft.


1. It is a misnomer that white walls for art is a neutral surface: I think that white can be quite harsh. Art take out of a gallery setting and put in a home can have a strong effect on the art itself; the humanity is more legible and it impacts the experience of spaces profoundly. Art and objects are in a dialog with each other such that things from different time periods can be curated to be in a rich conversation. 

2. I tend to go for more understated furnishings and stronger art. Placement of art and furniture are both very important and require great consideration. Depends on the scale of the room. Too small is too small and too big is too big, and like the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the challenge is getting it “just right.” There have been an abundance of articles on people doing so-called salon hangings—clusters of miscellaneous framed works on a wall. Quality matters. It is better to have a few well-scaled good things than a plethora of not-so-good works.

3. To learn more about art, join a museum and go reguarly, not just to the openings and parties. Engage with the curators and art dealers to learn more about wat you are looking at. Subscribe to magazines about art. Search out the best art dealers and talk to them to learn more. It is not something you can do overnight–cultivate your eye–look, look, look. Look at and read books about art.


Antiques & Fine Art 2017




Incollect Designer Focus: Glenn Gissler

Photography: Gross & Daley Photo