Showing posts with label :::Closet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label :::Closet. Show all posts

Monday, October 3

Anonymous in Dumbo

On Saturday night, I went to Anonymous's place in Dumbo before going to the arts festival Bring to Light in Greenpoint, apparently part of the Nuit Blanche events happening around the world. We watched baseball for a while, meaning, I got restless and started taking pictures, and that's the reflection of the flag in the window during the national anthem. And that's the Brooklyn Bridge. Anonymous, I realized, as I entered his closet, has a thing for multiples: shoes, harmonicas, guitars, scarves. Purple shoes! We took wine in coffee cups for the road.
Below, one of the installations. It smelled like incense, the lights went on and off, and the bearded guy sitting cross-legged in front of the xylophone howled into a microphone. "Are we part of history in the making?" I asked my friend Naomi. "Or--?" More photos after the jump...

Tuesday, March 16

Closet (The Starlet's Dressing Room)

This long and narrow storage closet is in the living room, near Kat's desk. In it she keeps story boards for scripts she's working on, and whatever else can fit--baskets, luggage, books, I think another desk. But back in the old days, Kat explains, "the building manager told me this apartment was originally owned by 'the studios' and the 'storage closet' was the 'dressing room' for 'starlets.' i've been told that same story by every building manager about every decent-sized closet in every apartment i've ever had in los angeles. seriously hard to imagine those chicks dressing themselves in that tight of a space. it's just a storage closet."

Saturday, May 16

Serge Van Lian, East Village

Remember Serge Van Lian from Bravo's Top Design? Back in September, he was the first designer to get "kicked off" (as they say) the second season of the show, not that it's mattered much to his career. He's been cruising around his East Village neighborhood, founding an eponymous design firm, salvaging decorative treasures from New York sidewalks, frequenting hardware stores for industrial decor, refueling with espresso at Abraco and finishing a very important project: his own two-bedroom apartment...

A mutual friend in Los Angeles introduced us via email, so we met for the first time one Saturday afternoon when he opened his front door with a big, friendly smile. (He keeps his shoes outside the door. I like that idea of appropriating the hallway.) The second I walked in, I was in awe of his beautiful place. Though it's small, and it's broken up into several small areas, which makes filling them with right-size furniture even more challenging, he's created a warm environment that's elegant, cool and industrial.

Serge is from LA and studied music, but he's always had an interest in design. He grew up watching his mom buy, fix up and sell houses, so he picked up some tricks from her. The rest he learned on his own.

The maybe-500-square-foot space is anchored by a big room at each end--his bedroom on one side, and a wonderfully peaceful "white room" on the other. Connecting them is the entry, where there's a lovely seating cove, a narrow kitchen he never uses but to sit on the counter while talking to guests, apparently, and a tiny bathroom with a giant window he knocked out of one wall, so it looks out--into and past the bedroom--to south-facing windows and views of turn-of-the-century brick buildings. There's another window, from the seating area, that looks into the bathroom and also through the bathroom window to those bedroom windows. Trust me, it works. So although the place is small, there's always some clever view to the outdoors, even if you're skimming past plaster, brick, a clear shower curtain, more plaster, more brick and glass. It's a lot like Serge; his vision is unstoppable.

By the end of my visit we were on the rooftop, climbing ladders and scaling concrete to visit the area Serge has claimed as his workshop. With the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in view, it's the perfectly inspirational place to spray-paint chairs and refinish tabletops.

(Looking at these photos now, they seem dark, and I should've taken more shots of entire rooms. Whoops! You can Google Image him and see more pics of his place. Check out the bathroom pics, since I don't really have a good one here.)

Entry and Sitting Room
Below, Serge in the doorway. Converse is a hit at this house. In the sitting area, electrical boxes act as sconces and support candles. A twig-and-pencil mirror by Laura Mazza from the Think Gallery. Nearby is the door to the bathroom, and you can see the window into the bathroom on that wall. He installed the checkered marble floors.

From the sitting room, you can look through a window (below, on the right) into the bathroom, and then into the bedroom. That's the shower head visible in the photo. Serge couldn't find just the right Empire-style frame he envisioned should go around this window, so he made one with hundreds of pennies. Only one depicts Lincoln's head, the rest are tails.

Past the kitchen is Serge's bedroom. His prized possession is this crazy-expensive Swedish bed from Hastens, which he got for a great deal because it was a floor model at the Soho store. (He's such a fan of Hastens that the company invited him to tour the headquarters in Sweden, and he's featured on the company's infomercial.) He now sleeps in Hastens heaven, on a bed of horsehair, cotton, flax and other organic materials that's wrapped in the brand's trademark plaid casing.

This room, colored in olive and hazel, looks like Serge. That's him in the kitchen. In the corner, he stacked a suite of bedroom furniture he found in a second-hand store. It's a dramatic way to use vertical space and have storage space. The middle one is filled with laundry.

Serge knocked out a huge section of the bathroom, so you can see into the bedroom--when the curtains are open, like they are here. He "wallpapered" the showering area with a shower curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond. The narrow medicine cabinet is actually a repurposed CD case he found on the Upper West Side. Around the bathroom are parts from a meat grinder. The base appears to support the cabinet but is only decorative, and the crank hangs on the wall because it looks good there.

Why don't I have a better picture of the kitchen? Serge rarely uses it, anyway. On the wall is another CD case that he strung with wire and uses for the storage of jars and spices.

The White Room
I love this peaceful guest room. Along the length of one wall is Flemming Busk's Twilight Sleep Sofa from Design Within Reach. When it's open, like it is here, the mattress covers almost the entire floor. Along another wall, a gigantic mirror stretches from floor to ceiling and is braced by some pipes and other industrial parts. Behind the mirror a "closet" with rows of hangers. Functional and inexpensive. He loves the John Keats line "Beauty is truth," so he took a nail and carved the words into every slat of the wood lath. The Victorian-Gothic mirror is from a friend's mother, and the black medieval-style chandelier is from the famous Billy's Antiques & Props in Soho.

I met up with Serge recently, and we walked around the East Village, went to a bookstore, ate pastries and looked at decor magazines. Such fun! He told me he'd finally replaced the counters in his kitchen. He also showed me a brand new tattoo: a nine-inch ruler, at half-inch increments, that runs up his right forearm. "In case I forget a tape measure," he says. "When you're pulling stuff from the streets and hauling it home, you want to make sure it's going to fit."

Sunday, May 3

Andrea Freddoni, Vicenza, Italy

Andrea and I were roommates in 1999 when we were both living in Sydney, Australia. I was there on a work visa and spent a year doing more traveling than working; he was studying at the local university. We met one night around midnight. He was walking through the streets of Coogee with a few boisterous Italians. They were singing Italian pop tunes, and he was carrying a box of wine of his shoulder. I was with some friends who happened to be his classmates. I'm not positive about what happened next, but I'm pretty sure the a cappella group and the box of wine came up to our apartment on Dolphin Street. A few months later, he became the fourth roommate. Or was it the fifth? The sixth? That place was a circus, but it looked out onto the beach. Andrea cooked eggplant risotto for us, and he washed dishes with his shirt off, so no one really cared what number roommate he was, anyway...

I'm so thankful for my parents, who encouraged me to travel when I was young. "You'll have too many responsibilities when you're older," they'd say. "It'll be more difficult to pick up and go. Do it now." Such great advice, and I'm so glad I did.

What I didn't really realize then, though the Sydney roommates and I would joke about it, is that we'd actually be a little family forever. We've all grown roots somewhere--New York, D.C., Melbourne, Stuttgart--and while we don't see each other very often at all (except for on Facebook!), there are everlasting open invitations to visit stay in each other's cozy, properly furnished homes. What we never thought that would happen to us did: Adulthood.

Andrea has already decided that he and I will swap children each summer. I'll take his kids and teach them about American culture, and my children will stay with him and learn Italian. He apologizes in advance that I might be overwhelmed by his team of mini futbol players.

Anyway, before the start of the Milan Furniture Fair, I went to visit Andrea in La Isola Vicentina, just outside of Vicenza where he grew up. As always, he's an incredibly neat and organized homebody, and, lucky for me, he still loves to cook. He likes to make fresh juice in the morning. It went well with a berry cake I couldn't stop eating.

The casual, airy kitchen gets so much natural light, and it opens up onto a patio. Above the sink is a Bisazza backsplash. The company is based in Vicenza, and while it's considered a high-end import in States, it's much more common in Italy. Like Prada. Under the sink, the disposal container is divided into three sections for paper, recyclables and food waste. Somehow, it makes a pile of orange peels and Lavazza espresso grinds look lovely.

Andrea moved into this house about a year ago. He had it outfitted with various high-tech mechanisms like electronic tapparelle (metal shutters that cover the windows and block light; they make a great sound when they're moving), speakers in every room for music, temperature control, security and lighting moods. It's called Sistema Casa, and settings are managed by a computerized touch-screen that hangs on the wall. His favorite element is a tower of outlets that rises up from the island in the kitchen. When it's not in use, you push it down so it's flush with the surface.

Also below:
Drawers filled with colorful bowls and enough silverware to feed the Italian army. Books and breaksticks on the counters.

Andrea loves his big, double-door fridge. It's American. It's Whirlpool. We ate very well.

Instead of side tables, interesting lamps sit on the floor next to the bed. There's a stack of La Settimana Enigmistica, a mag of linguistic puzzles, for late-night crosswording. The window opens several ways and offers views of the Dolomites, the first small ridge of the Alps. Of course, the shutters are here, too. When I remarked at how black the room is when the shades are completely closed (they're still open a bit in the pic below), Andrea reminded me of how he always slept with an eye mask. Morning light and sheer curtains are intolerable.

Around a corner in the bedroom is a gigantic closet. Another man with a highly organized closet.

There are three, but I'll post pics of just one--his. The suspended toilet and bidet is a new style, he says. He ordered them special. I like the look, too.

He says he's still working on it. Big plans in the making for a whirlpool in the corner. Right now, its main function seems to be for laundry and storage for sports gear. He and his brother had a few lengthy conversations about the best steamer/iron to purchase. I wish I had this kind of a set-up in my apartment! Travel mementos line the ledge between the two floors. Motorbiking.

I really liked the doors and the hardware, especially the supercool three-prong bolts.

The patio is a great place to have breakfast. Colors like this warm, weathered red exterior are called pastelo. Bachelor plants. Completely closed tapparelle. Neighbors include young families, a farm, running trails and the Dolomites.