Brownstoner

BROWNSTONER

SPRING/SUMMER 2018

Maximum Glamour

by Cara Greenberg 

A sophisticated duplex is a designer’s repository of art and antiques, a haven for its owner and a splendid space for entertaining

 

When interior designer Glenn Gissler went apartment hunting six years ago, the longtime Manhattanite had been to Brooklyn very few times before. He was astounded by the charm and amenities he found in the upper duplex of a circa 1890 row house in central Brooklyn Heights. “The apartment exceeded my list of ‘must haves,’” Gissler says, recalling his initial reaction: “You mean I can have all this—two floors, a fireplace, a washer-dryer and a terrace—ten minutes from Greenwich Village?!”

Now, furnished and decorated with what Gissler calls a “collage of art and artifacts,” the two-bedroom co-op is even more enviable. Sleek and cozy, modern and historic at the same time, it comprises a book-lined dining room, kitchen and guest room on the lower level, and two rooms with beamed ceilings, reminiscent of a Paris stelier. And who wouldn’t want to wake up to a view of a terrace filled with greenery?

Gissler’s atmospheric apartment, filled with intriguing places representing styles and periods from antiquity to the present day, is “a distillation of the designer’s development over the past three decades,” as the designer’s website puts it. Every item, from millicl-old clay pots to a Swedish mid-century lamp resembling a meteorite, from a Keith Haring poster given to Gissler by the artist at an anti-nukes demonstration his first summer in New York to framed childhood drawings by his now-teenage daughter, reflects who he is (an eBay addict, to be sure) and where he comes from. “Their cash value is irrelevant,” he says. “It’s whether it speaks to me.”

 

It was inevitable that Gissler would end up living in a vintage house (he also owns a 1840s farmhouse on eight aces in Connecticut). He saved his first building at the age of 18—a Gilded Age Milwaukee mansion he rescued by convincing his father, then an editor of Milwaukee’s largest daily newspaper, to write an opinion piece embarrassing the bankers who had refused to lend $200,000 to a preservation group to buy the building and keep it from destruction. The banks changed their tune and the Pabst Mansion still stands as a historic house museum.

At 19, as an interior design student at the University of Wisconsin, Gissler joined the board of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. Later, while earning an architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, he lived in Providence’s College Hill Historical District for three years and found it a formative experience. “Walking home on a snowy night along 18th century brick sidewalks with gas lights was like a delirious dream,” he says.

Part way through his education, Gissler decided that historic preservation was not his calling. “The thing I found frustrating about historic preservation is you choose a date and time and freeze it. That wasn’t complex enough to keep me interested as a career.” After graduation, he veered toward interior design, retaining his special interest in historic architecture. “You have to think cleverly about how to insert a contemporary life into an old building and respect its historic character,” he says.

Gissler followed early stints in the New York offices of renowned designer Juan Montoya and architect Rafael Vinholy by founding Glenn Gissler Design in 1987. The four-person boutique firm has a portfolio of projects including residences in Manhattan, Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island, Florida and Martha’s Vineyard. Active in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), Gissler recently served two years as president of the New York Metro chapter.

A designer’s own home probably says more about his or her taste than any project for clients. Gissler’s is masculine and low lit, with deep, rich wall color–glossy green in the kitchen and chocolate brown upstairs. Large-scale pieces of tailored furniture—not too many—provide comfort without clutter. Collected objects from design movements from Arts and Crafts to Steampunk are arrayed on the mantle and on tabletops, while framed art, including many contemporary works on paper, line the walls, the white mattes contrasting smartly with the dark paint colors.

When Gissler took over the apartment it was inn pretty decent shape, down to the “well-built kitchen cabinets” that contributed to his decision to purchase. He didn’t need to renovate but made a few of what he calls “architectural corrections.” Chief among them was “un-kitchening the kitchen,” which sits in the middle of the apartment’s lower level. The entry door opens right into it, and Gissler did all in his power to minimize the room’s utilitarian qualities and makes it as glamorous as the adjacent dining room. He painted the cabinets as high-gloss “murky green” and replaced their glass panels with mirrored wire glass that disguises their contents. The island top is an elegant slab of dark green granite suggested by the color of the existing Eastlake-stye fireplace. When Gissler entertains, as he frequently does for up to 40 guests, the kitchen island becomes a glittering bar.

In other tweaks, Gissler shifted the door to the downstairs guest room for greater privacy and more storage space, hung curtains on hospital-type tracks to completely enclose the dining room for intimate dinners, and added beams to the ceiling int he cozy upstairs sitting rom so it wouldn’t look “denuded” next to the bedroom, which had already beamed before Gissler came along.

The apartment gave Gissler abundant opportunities to deploy designers’ trade secrets, like replacing the recessed lights in the kitchen ceilings with surface- mounted fixtures with simple cone shades and lining the window frames with mirrored panels to bring in every ray of available sunlight. His dark wall colors are perhaps surprising in an apartment measuring only 1,250 square feet, but Gissler is not a believer in the oft-quoted maxim that light colors make spaces feel bigger. “Brighter, yes,” he says. “Not bigger.”

Gissler uses all his rooms to the fullest. The main challenge of living in a row house designed for 19th century living is “figuring out how to use the spaces in a way that makes sense for the 21st century,” he says. “Town-houses have challenges and opportunities.” Gissler has certainly made the most of both.

Story: Cara Greenberg
Photography: Matthew Williams
Styling: Vanessa Vazquez

Cultured Lifestyle Magazine

CULTURED LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

MAY / JUNE 2018

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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.

Artists Magazine

Artists Magazine

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

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Intersections: Art and Design

by Allison Malafronte
Photos by Gross & Daley

Lighting & Decor

Lighting and Decor

NOVEMBER 2017

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Last Look photos by Gross & Daley

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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.

 

NYC&G

NYC & G

NOVEMBER 2017

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Chic Retreats: Living Room

“I live in Brooklyn Heights, so my goal was to respect the history and architecture of the town-house while making it comfortable for today,” says designer Glenn Gissler, who paired a curvaceous Vladimir Kagan sofa with early-20th-century French furnishings and 20th-century paintings, all from 1stdibs.