ANGE September 2009 : Page 124
Going Coastal! Why settle for one coast when you can dominate two? We’ve tapped the country’s top designers who’ve taken over both Manhattan and Los Angeles (and the Hamptons andMalibu, too...) | By Lisa Cregan | | Photography by Allison Antola | Alexandra Loew It’s not hard to fi nd a decorator who worships at the shrine of Jackie Kennedy’s Tour de White House. Or who fi nds inspiration in the preposterous panache of Grey Gardens’ Little Edie. But taking tips from Charlie’s Angels? Quelle horreur! “I love how Charlie was the mysterious character behind this very busy, hardworking company,” explains Alexandra Loew, 39, who dreamt up her own fi ctional character, Lola, as the inspiration for her L.A.-based interiors fi rm, From the Desk of Lola. “She’s our ploy for the fantasy-based element of our work,” says Loew. T is imaginary fi gure provides a unifying presence at the helm of a far-fl ung fi rm that’s creating works of all-out whimsy as popular on the East Coast as on the West. What fl ows from Lola’s desk is a stream of sprightly décor statements fi nely tailored to refl ect a client’s most personal dreams and desires. And who better to design those dreams than a UCLA-trained architect and a former continued... BICOASTAL BOOKING Alexandra Loew in the guest room of a project in Chappaqua, New York. 124 | Angeleno | September 2009
Home Design Going Coastal!
Alexandra Loew<br /> <br /> Its not hard to fi nd a decorator who worships at the shrine of Jackie Kennedys Tour de White House. Or who fi nds inspiration in the preposterous panache of Grey Gardens Little Edie. But taking tips from Charlies Angels? Quelle horreur!<br /> <br /> I love how Charlie was the mysterious character behind this very busy, hardworking company, explains Alexandra Loew, 39, who dreamt up her own fi ctional character, Lola, as the inspiration for her<br /> <br /> L. A.-based interiors fi rm, From the Desk of Lola.<br /> <br /> Shes our ploy for the fantasy-based element of our work, says Loew.<br /> <br /> Is imaginary fi gure provides a unifying presence at the helm of a far-fl ung fi rm thats creating works of all-out whimsy as popular on the East Coast as on the West. What fl ows from Lolas desk is a stream of sprightly dcor statements fi nely tailored to refl ect a clients most personal dreams and desires.<br /> <br /> And who better to design those dreams than a UCLA-trained architect and a formerFi lmmaker? Loew, who also worked as a Hollywood producer and then an architect, says she realized she preferred designing interiors to putting more buildings on the earth. Today, Loew toggles between two coasts (often with 5-year-old Sam and 1-year-old Ani in tow) to meet the needs of her ever-expanding client base. In New York, Loew says, its often about black and white, while Los Angeles is all about living color. In L.A. people have more confi dence with color, she says, pointing as proof to a current West Coast project that utilizes Kelly green, pale pink and a muddy clay neutral. And thats just the living room. Stark white walls dont look as good in an L.A. house with drywall and post-and-beam construction, she explains.<br /> <br /> Its easier to live with white in a prewar Manhattan apartment with moldings and character. Plus, says Loew, I fi nd personalities in L.A. are looser, casual, more colorful.<br /> <br /> Personality is also at the root of her creative process, which turns out to be far more silver-screen than simple swatches. Instead of using inspiration boards, Loew makes mood movies at the beginning of every project. By gathering images that will appeal to clients, she then creates an animated slide show based on the feeling those images evoke. I use scans from old design books, studies of periods like Art Nouveau, but no paint chips or fabric swatches, ever, says Loew fi rmly. Its an atmosphere were going for. e mood movie for a project currently under way in L.A. features room installations of mid-century minimalist Ward Bennett (Im obsessed with him at the moment, confesses Loew) interspersed with artists renderings of woven fabrics. Based on those inspirations, Loew conjured up a truly unique paint fi nish: Were doing the walls in diff erent shades of violet, peach and brown. Minimal and earthy, with horizontal cross-hatching to look like linen, says the designer. It looks like the wall is vibrating in color. Its so beautiful. And for those pre-Technicolor clients back East?<br /> <br /> Loew is just fi nishing up a New York City apartment with a more traditional bentshe likes thinking of it as having a British boho sensibility. Look for cozy nooks for rainy-day reading and contemplating the views of Gramercy Park, with simple, warm colors that dont intrude on a place thats as much refuge as residence.<br /> <br /> En theres her project that injects Tinseltown fl ash where one might expect Yankee reticence. In Chappaqua, New York, were just fi nishing a project for a woman who collects photography, specifi cally George Hurrell black and white portraits of movie stars in the 30s and 40s, says Loew. e house became all about the Art Deco era in Hollywood. at translated to a bedroom with silver-foil wallpaper, ivory hardware, custom lacquer and a grand circular niche in the ceiling papered in gold leaf. e walls shimmer silver and the niche shimmers gold, she says.<br /> <br /> Our client loves it. And for Loew, thats as good as it gets: Your home should be a refl ection of who you most want to be. All interior design is about telling a story, the story of a life.<br /> <br /> Aqua Vitae<br /> <br /> Alexandra and Eliot Angle may be designs reigning mixologists.<br /> <br /> E couple were not only A-list event designers (think ski-in, candlelit New Years parties in Sun Valley), they also penned two glam books on cocktails.<br /> <br /> But eight years ago, the pair decided to take a diff erent approach to celebrating the high life and founded their<br /> <br /> L. A.-based fi rm, Aqua Vitae Design. But even with the career switch, the Angles still put an event planners premium on getting that just-so combo of color, comfort and splash. I want you to walk in and be immediately hit by the strength of the physical surroundings, says Alexandra. (Cue the bright-red patterned wallpaper installed on the ceiling of an otherwise Shaker-austere Hamptons dining room, as well as their own perfectly color-combod second home on Canadas Cape Breton.)<br /> <br /> Today the duo, both 40, clock long hours timetraveling between the coastsfrom FifthAvenue to Los Feliz, and SoHo to Bev Hillscreating their brand of high-drama dcor wherever they go. We dont use a lot of the standard stuff , says Alexandra. No kidding. Adding a piece like Aqua Vitaes Arc Chair, a side chair whose backrest mimics human vertebrae (actually quite lovely), would give any room head-turning impact. And its a design approach thats turning out to be a business bonanza: While many in the dcor biz are struggling just to stay afl oat, the Angles have homeowners lining up for Aqua Vitaes theatrics.<br /> <br /> Alexandra reports business has doubled in the past year and their New York client list is growing so fast she frequently fi nds herself spending as many as four days a week out East while Eliot looks after the California clients and their 2-year-old daughter, Elefe.<br /> <br /> I guess what links our clients is that they dont take anything too seriously, says Alexandra when asked to explain the bicoastal nature of the fi rms appeal.<br /> <br /> L.A. has gardens and pools so you dont work to create a separation from the outdoors; in fact, you want to create an indoor/outdoor fl ow. But in New York people want cocoons, a protected space from the craziness outside. But whether theyre working on a 900-squarefoot pied--terre or a sprawling country spread, the two count on one constant: color. I think people have an emotional response to color, says Alexandra. Its hugely important to me. Case in point: a fantastical weekend house in Venice, California, where theyre covering an entire wall in blue-and-white 200-year-old Portuguese tiles.<br /> <br /> I was inspired by the feeling of canals and building an Italian canal house inspired by Scandinavian design here in Venice, says Alexandra. I dont think I could get away with that level of fantasy in New York, right? Other times, color isnt quite so obvious. For a recent installation in a hyper-elegant Upper East Side pad, they kept the palette to barely-there gradations of white and blue-gray. e amount of time we spent on how the chair colors work with the textures on the curtains is mind-boggling. Ive never done anything like that in<br /> <br /> L. A., never will, she laughs.<br /> <br /> New York is more formal, says Eliot. Its more European-rooted, more accustomed to antiques, more concerned with the beauty of each square inch. Los Angeles is more casual, more free-form, more open. Eliot thinks his own background in experimental N.Y. theatre provided a transition to interior design. I co-founded a company that did site-specifi c, rather starkly beautiful performances. My taste for the drama of simple design, and the pairing of unusual forms, grew out of that. As for the Angles own home, think less staid interiors and more nonstop idea lab for the colors they love and the cutting-edge furniture they design.<br /> <br /> Avid travelers, the couple is constantly on the go. At the moment, theyre moving again, renovating an old farmhouse in Los Feliz. I think its the oldest house in the neighborhood, a former pumpkin farm, says Alexandra. Having grown up in rural Vermont, shes happy to go through rehab headaches again to achieve that familiar, old farmhouse feeling. Its an unusual place, she says, but my aesthetic is always evolving. Im a chameleon.<br /> <br /> Janson Goldstein<br /> <br /> Call them the ree Musketeers of Minimalism: Hal Goldstein, Mark Janson and Steven Scurothe partners of Janson Goldsteinsay their mission is to serve modernists of all stripes, whether theyre working on Giorgio Armanis lushly Spartan home shop in L.A. or on an elegantly simple country manse in New York.<br /> <br /> Modernism is a very, very large umbrella, says Goldstein.<br /> <br /> Its just that perspective that has skyrocketed the 14-yearold architectural fi rm into the design stratosphere, with big-ticket commissions coming in from all coastsand beyond. Ranging from hotel projects like L.A.s beyondcool Andaz and super-sleek retail interiors such as NYCs Tse store to incredible private residences, the fi rm turns out a steady stream of cutting-edge contemporary projects that have earned the trio a careers worth of accolades.<br /> <br /> Who better to prove that modern design can have tons of personalitywhile being warm, comfortable and historically relevant to boot?<br /> <br /> White Webb<br /> <br /> .. ere arent many decorators who move as easily from traditional to modern, and from by-the-book classic to rule-breaking rebellion, as Matthew White, 50, and Frank Webb, 45. Frank likes cleaner shapes; I like the classics. He wants modern; Ill always want more antiques. Its the fusion that works, says White, who was a designer and antiques dealer in L.A. for 15 years before moving to NYC in 2006 to be with his partner, a Broadway producer.<br /> <br /> While renovating their apartment, White met Webb, who was rehabbing his own place in the same building. Both commiserated over restrictive construction policies, and a friendship was born.<br /> <br /> Today the pairpreferring rustic Spanish and Italian antiques for L.A., and English and French pieces for New Yorkjuggles projects that include a makeover of Studio 54s VIP room and a 1920s L.A. hacienda, with media room murals of the California coastline. Our relationship is tricky, says White. Ill roll my eyes at something and then well debate. Its like a marriage.<br /> <br />