By Julia Ransom and Johanna Dunn
Your collection of art, furniture and design pieces should complement each other, rather than making your home feel like it is an impersonal gallery.
Take the vast living space in this three-bedroom Manhattan penthouse, on the market for $18mn. Formerly a school gymnasium, the industrial architecture and clean lines provide the perfect backdrop for contemporary design pieces — but care should be taken with how you collect and style a collection here to really take advantage of the space.
Here we share some tips to help you express yourself through contemporary design, including recommendations for some of the most exciting designers and brands working today. Bear in mind that art and design pieces are best experienced in person: St Vincent's (Antwerp), Friedman Benda (New York), Kolkhoze (Paris) are among our favourite studios and galleries, and are always worth a visit if you’re in town.
Opt for versatility
When designing a larger, open space, it’s often helpful to start by thinking about textiles. This hand woven natural wool rug by Cappelen Dimyr, based in Copenhagen, will anchor a large room like the living space in the Manhattan apartment, and offer a versatile backdrop for a range of materials and styles.
Invest in ‘cornerstones’
If you buy the right pieces, you’ll always find a home for them, regardless of where life takes you. This patinated bronze console, by Parisian interior designer Charles Zana, can frame an open-plan space beautifully, and the material will stand the test of time. In this property, it would also work well in the foyer, drawing the eye and setting the tone for the neighbouring living room.
Prioritise original design over trends
Focus on finding unique pieces that speak to you, rather than following trends. We love this Horsehair Sconce by Apparatus. The refined, harmonious form, a combination of oil-rubbed bronze and palomino horsehair, will add interest to any wall, while providing subtle illumination to a room.
Craft is key
Immerse yourself in the story behind every piece to understand the true value of its design. Each of these solid wood stumps, hand-carved by sculptor and furniture maker Kieran Kinsella, are unique. They would work well styled next to an armchair or sofa in the Manhattan space as an accent piece.
Have fun with materials
Scout out functional items with unexpected finishes, such as this bookshelf by Studio Haos. A display piece that also offers storage, its bold use of plywood and sheet metal can easily become a focal point and wall sculpture for your living room.
For the penthouse, we would envisage it sitting against the right hand wall in the main area — the aluminium would reflect the light coming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, adding to the bright and open feeling of this dramatic space.
Photography: Genevieve Lutkin; Cathy Taub, Michael Miarecki and Tena Bugarin of Sotheby's International Realty — East Side Manhattan Brokerage; Gaspard Hermach Courtesy Charles Zana; Adrianna Glaviano/2DM Management