Category Archives: Interior Design

At Home With Ariel Ashe- New York Observer

Interior Designer Ariel Ashe Invites Us in to Her Home

The sought-after decorator repurposes antiques and mixes ethnic with modern touches in her West Village home.

Ariel Ashe in her West Village home

“Piñon is the first thing I smell when I get off the plane in New Mexico,” said interior designer Ariel Ashe, of the aroma coming from the scented candle burning in her West Village apartment. Country music played in the light-filled, spacious one-bedroom furnished with ethnic rugs and ornaments.

When Ms. Ashe is not traveling and gathering inspiration for her esteemed design firm with architect Reinaldo Leandro,  Ashe+Leandro,  she meets him each day for coffee before heading to their charming two-room Soho studio. It’s rare to find an interior designer and architect as equal partners, but Ms. Ashe, an uncommon mix of worldliness from a small town in New Mexico, and Mr. Leandro, a young modernist from Venezuela, complement each other. Ms. Ashe invited us into her home to tell us how she designed for her most personal client, herself.

Ariel Ashe's living room. Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Observer

You’ve been in this apartment for a year, have you always lived downtown in NYC? Always. I love my neighborhood—I’m on the third floor of a building with no elevator and I love it. No hanging around! There’s a lot of natural light in this apartment and three skylights.

How did you pick the art and decoration? I’ve been collecting stuff since I started working as an interior designer in 2002. Some pieces are client rejects—some are gifts from furniture makers and a few pieces are by my favorite woodworker, Rob Pluhowski. The art is from all over—again, gifts, purchases and stolen (from my parents).

Art wall featuring prints by Norman Bergsma. Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Observer

You have great artwork here. Do you have a favorite piece of artwork? My Kate Moss obituary by Adam McEwen, which hangs above my fireplace in the living room and a tiny painting of Mick Jagger by Nikki Katsikas. Both are whimsical but brilliant. Adam McEwen was an obituary writer for the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming an artist. I also have a Richard Aldrich painting from the Bortolami Gallery, a space we designed a few years ago.

How did you approach designing your own apartment as opposed to a client’s? In exactly the same way. I thought about the best layout for me, chose a color palette, established a budget and got to work. We’ve done over 40 apartments in New York so I’ve had a lot of practice.

A teak root table with an antique lamp. Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Observer

You travel often. Is that essential as an interior designer? Yes. You can only get so much inspiration from magazines and Pinterest. From a hammock in Nicaragua to a tile floor on the Amalfi coast,  I take thousands of photos with my iPhone.

What are a few cities you draw inspiration from? Rome, Santa Fe, New York. I love places with strong history and culture. With culture comes great design and good food.

An antique bust and new skull. Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Observer

What makes New York home? Mostly the people. My sister and brother live here. My work is here. Although, I still consider New Mexico home. I’m starting a project in Placitas, N.M., with my dad who is a builder. Martha’s Vineyard is my home in the summer.

What are the most cherished items in your home? Things I’ve taken from my parents’ house. A bow and arrow set, Navajo rugs, an oil painting in my bedroom and a pink Three Musketeers book.

A hallway featuring a Navajo rug. Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Observer

Do you have a favorite spot in your home? My closet is pretty amazing. My sister organized it for me the day I moved in and comes over to reorganize it. A fashionable friend lived here before me and the closet intimidated me at first. I couldn’t fill half of it but I’ve been working on that…

Do you have any advice for aspiring interior designers? Work hard: There’s nothing stopping you! Intern, assist and always do more than what’s asked of you. See art. Travel. Read books. Use all of this to develop a style. Don’t ask to leave early.

Read more at The Observer.


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At Home With Ryan Korban- New York Observer

At Home With Ryan Korban, Interior Designer to James Franco and Debra Messing

  • “I love luxe. I would sit on fur all the time if I could.” Ryan Korban’s unashamed delight in luxury is his trademark. He made his confession to the Observer from the fur-covered couch of his sumptuous Central Park South pad. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a view of Midtown Manhattan includes a plethora of custom furniture. 

    Philadelphia-born Mr. Korban replenishes his home’s floral displays each week shares his home with his boyfriend and three dogs, a Yorkie/Chihuahua, a Chihuahua, and Pomeranian. He has lived in New York City for 10 years, designing homes for stars including James Franco and Debra Messing. A favorite project was the Balenciaga store.

    “My life is about retail,” admitted the designer. “It’s figuring out what kind of shelf Prada puts their bags on. I love the energy this city puts into commercial spaces and my favorite spot, Madison Avenue is the center of that. It always needs to be fresh and moving.”

    What’s your favorite spot in your home? 

    The terrace! I love having my espresso outside every morning. The dogs can run around while I water my plants. We do a lot of entertaining and who’s kidding? I love drinking out there!

    First item you purchased for this apartment? 

    It was a custom-made, black-lacquered, three-paneled screen by Daniel Scuderi. There’s something really sexy about screens. 

    How did you pick the art and decoration? 

    It happenned organically, I’m always looking. The colors and textures are bronze, marble, shagreen, parchment, ostrich, alabaster, chrome, brass, and crystal. I love material that has soul. I also tried to keep my apartment more of a wash of color. If you notice the sconces above the fireplace, they’re painted the same gray as the walls to blend in. The crystal was quite a purchase for me. 

    What are a few of your most treasured items? 

    A pair of Maison Jansen lamps with crystal fruit bases, my bedroom sideboard from Italy, my antique parchment armoire, and a massive crystal from Phoenix Gallery in NYC. My zebra is the epitome of exotic fantasy. It died of natural causes, but I worked through the whole process with the maker. I wanted to be able to pick the skin, build a mannequin and pick the zebra’s pose, and that’s why it’s one of my favorites.

    How do you approach designing your own apartment as opposed to designing a client’s home?

    It’s been a process over the years. When I first started working, my home became a collection of all my projects, an overwhelming oasis of more is more. Now it’s very edited and I don’t veer off my path. For clients, I constantly experiment with new and different materials. 

    Which elements did you know you had to incorporate into your home?

    My two large custom sofas have been with me from my last apartment. The first was a Knoll sofa that I got at an auction and I had expanded. Later I got the second made to match and they’ve really grown with me. Their scale really dictated the living room layout but it ended up being a good thing. In two apartments before they were face to face, and now they’re back to back.

    What is a typical day like for you?

    Every day is different. I am all over meeting architects, clients, lighting designers, general contractors, structural engineers, metal workers, mill workers, and doing site visits, showroom visits, and budgets. There are always timelines. I’m currently working on a project on the Upper East Side, but all of my projects are pretty much at different phases; there’s never a dull moment. 

    You are one of the few interior designers that mix design and fashion. What’s the most overrated current trend?

    Street style. Whenever I go downtown it’s like every person is standing on the corner waiting for someone to take their picture. I see people getting dressed more for themselves uptown. Downtowners change their style with the wind, uptowners are not changing that blow-out for anybody! 

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New York Observer: August Tastemakers

Tastemakers Ariana Rockefeller and Kerry Butler Tell Us What ‘Luxury’ Means to Them

From a garden terrace to truffles and caviar, these tastemakers offered their definition of luxurious living. Evan Jonigkeit

Evan Jonigkeit, actor

“My kind of luxury comes with a little bit of grittiness. While The Russian & Turkish Baths may be a little ‘janky,’ I feel fantastic after an hour of lounging around with a good friend, talking about the week and sweating out the drink or two I may have had the night before at The Narrows in Bushwick.”Ryan Korban. Photo by Patrick McMullan)

Ryan Korban, interior designer

“Luxury is having an incredible pair of shoes or an expensive bag that you wear to death. Or a formally decorated room that you use daily. The more worn-in something fabulous becomes, the better the story it will tell.” David Stark

David Stark, president and founder of David Stark Design and Production

“My definition of extreme luxury is not having to pack a bag to jump on a plane when I escape to my Miami home. Having a closet full of clothing there and heading to LaGuardia with just my laptop and keys in my pocket is the most liberating feeling ever.”Sara Story.

Sara Story, interior designer

“Luxury is finding free time to visit museums and incredible gallery shows. On my list (during my next few hours of free time!) is the Neue Galerie for its incredible mix of German and Austrian art, along with its Café Sabarsky, which has the best coffee and desserts. The New Museum downtown and David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea are two of my other favorites.”Ronny Kobo. Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images for ENK Fashion Coterie

Ronny Kobo, fashion designer.

“My definition of luxury living is the blessed freedom to truly experience this city, its art, food, people and global culture, and to have the rare opportunity to translate all that into fabrics and form. And then there’s Uber!”Chris Santos. Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

Chris Santos, chef

“There is nothing better than enjoying a beautiful day in the city. To me, the greatest luxury is being able to enjoy the sunshine without leaving my home. I am lucky enough to live in a building that has a beautiful and spacious landscaped roof deck. With built-in grills and incredible views of the city, it’s the ultimate luxury to host 50 of my closest friends for dinner parties while watching the sun set in the distance.”   Photo courtesy

Debra Larsen, founder of WorkHouse NYC, co-founder of Space 530 and principal at Transwestern Real Estate

“As I’m on my feet all day running between real estate projects, my luxury is massages. From taking the Space 530 and WorkHouse staff for a well-earned spa day at the Peninsula to popping into the ubiquitous Chinese walk-in shop—there’s no such thing as a bad massage in my book!”Anita Lo. Photo by Patrick McMullan)

Anita Lo, chef

“Like most chefs, I count as luxuries the usual trifecta of foie gras, truffles and caviar. But owning a high-end restaurant slightly alters this perception, as I have easy access to many fine ingredients. So luxury is not only the expensive ingredients, but also the ones that are hard to procure or bad for your health in quantities you desire: a just picked heirloom pepper, a Maine sweet shrimp at the height of its short season, or an entire tub of vacherin cheese.”Arianna Rockefeller Photo by Celeste Sloman/For New York Observer)

Ariana Rockefeller, fashion designer

“My definition of luxury is being able to find the most beautiful textiles from all over the world within walking distance of the garment center. Within an hour I can sort through the finest silks from Asia, linens from Italy and lace from France. It feels very luxurious to be at the fashion center of the world.”Kerry Butler. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for T.J. Martell Foundation)

Kerry Butler, Tony-nominated actress currently starring in Under My Skin at the Little Shubert Theatre

“I have two daughters with a lot of toys, so my idea of luxury is space. I also love going to a fancy hotel like the St. Regis for breakfast to start my day off right. That’s my idea of luxury in New York.”  

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New York Observer: July Tastemakers

How to Look Good On A Plane

By |

  • Sara Sampaio (Victoria's Secret PINK Model): "The answer is I am afraid I don’t! It's all about comfort for me, so I wear sweatshirts and leggings (I always travel in Victoria’s Secret Pink ones.) It's a battle to keep my skin and lips moisturized — the plane really makes my skin dry."

    Model Sara Sampaio and a bevy of tastemakers answered our most recent, pertinent question. “How do you look good on a plane?”
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New York Observer: June Tastemakers

Seth Meyers, Taylor Schilling and Jason Collins on Summer Hangouts

  • From a roof terrace with a bottle of Champagne to an outdoor restaurant or biking along the Hudson River, these are the spots to hunt New York’s elite this summer.

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New York Observer: At Home With Reinaldo Leandro

Architect Reinaldo Leandro Talks Sub-Tropical Style

At home with one half of design duo du jour, Ashe + Leandro, gaining ground for their spare and funky interiors


It’s about 4 p.m. on a Friday and the natural light in architect Reinaldo Leandro’s corner apartment in West Soho floods the room. “I love the sun exposure in my living room,” he says. Mr. Leandro makes up half the duo Ashe + Leandro with his partner, Ariel Ashe. They recently designed the backstage area forLate Night with Seth Meyers, as well as the Downtown loft of Coldplay’s lead guitarist Jonny Buckland. Originally from Venezuela, Mr. Leandro’s passion for art and design is clear from the moment his door opens. His eclectic and impressive art collection spans from a de Kooning lithograph to a series of African masks and art pieces by Karl Haendel, Dan Colen, Rashid Johnson, Paul Morehouse and Richard Aldrich. As they begin another set of high profile projects, Ashe + Leandro will continue to enrich the New York design world with their contemporary statements.

 How did you approach designing your home versus how you approach a client’s space? I basically treat myself like any other client. What are my needs? How much space am I working with? Storage space was a big concern, as it is for any client here in New York.


Which elements did you know you had to incorporate into your home? The space is not huge; in fact, it is only 500 square feet. I purchased it as a studio apartment with a separate kitchen. I was able to configure a separate bedroom, which was key. The kitchen is integrated into the living space and the bedroom is behind a big sliding door.   


Your aesthetic has been referred to as “Tropical Modernism.” How did that play a part in the design of your home? In this particular case it is more about objects than materials, though I do have lots of plants, which I guess is how the term originated. My plants coexist alongside bright-colored art and lamps, set against a monochromatic background (white walls and white floors). I recently bought the apartment next door and hope to continue this look by combining the two and exposing the concrete slab as a floor. Alternatively a terrazzo floor would be interesting, which is really popular in modern Latin American architecture.

Were there are any trends you shied away from when designing your own place? Reclaimed wood, taxidermy and Edison bulbs were very trendy at the time. I’m glad I managed to mostly stay away from them and keep a cleaner palette. I like concrete, stone and polished wood.


Where do you draw inspiration? Well, I’m from Venezuela so I draw a lot of inspiration from where I grew up. Hence the fascination with the aforementioned materials—they are the core of modern architecture in Caracas. As far as everyday inspiration, I learn a lot from traveling. I was recently in Mexico City and Los Angeles and I love colonial Spanish architecture, something that’s very much ingrained in me. Vegetation is also incredibly important to me, because it has a lot of texture and I’m very drawn to raw materials.


Speaking of traveling, you also just completed a four-story house in London. Yes, it’s a Victorian home and we wanted to keep that spirit. We didn’t feel comfortable remaking or adding (fake) Victorian details, but we managed to preserve the style of the house and also weave in some nice contemporary elements. We used a traditional style herringbone floor pattern but chose a very light contemporary (almost Scandinavian) wood, for example. The builders used plaster for the moldings that managed to be both contemporary and Victorian. We kept the winding central stairway mostly as-is but painted the railing black instead of utilizing the original dark mahogany.


What makes New York home? I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I spent a lot of time here as a child and it was always a dream to live in New York. I’ve been here for 12 years and I still can’t believe it. Now that my business is here, it definitely feels like home. Ariel and I both live within walking distance of our Soho office. 


How often do you rearrange? I constantly rearrange the art. Besides that, the apartment has been the same since I finished it. I do think it’s time to redo my sofa. And I’m in the planning stages of my next renovation, which is really exciting. Ariel’s been on a rug-buying frenzy in Morocco, and I’ve been saving some for my new place. I have an antique Beni Ourain and leather Touareg rug ready to go.


And how often do you buy art? It’s really the only thing I enjoy buying, about one piece a year. I usually turn to Bortolami Gallery in Chelsea and the gallery of Lisa Cooley on the Lower East Side. I designed both spaces. I got two Richard Aldriches and one Thilo Heinzmann from Bortolami. The last purchased piece was by Paul Morehouse whose studio I visited recently.

I also know you just completed the artist Rashid Johnson’s home. Back in 2007, I purchased two of his early wax pieces and was able to meet him. As life tends to come full circle, we just completed the New York home he shares with his family. It was a fascinating collaboration and a fun project.


 What kind of projects are in the pipeline for Ashe + Leandro? We are about to start a four-story house in Brooklyn and apartments in the West Village and Tribeca which I am really excited to begin working on.

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Shindigger: New York Observer


Jennifer Hudson and Shindigger Toast the Brown Shoe Company’s 100Years On the NYSE

By Neesha Arter | 04/25/14 3:32pm

BROWN SHOE COMPANY Celebrates 100 Years on the NYSE with JENNIFER HUDSON

Spring sprang in the form of clustering bunches of cherry blossom and pink and white peonies, for the Brown Shoe Company’s celebration of 100 Years on the New York Stock Exchange. The star-studded event was produced by super-designer David Stark and panoramic 360-degree views of the city, alongside a pretty, shoe-printed backdrop to the stage, completed the perfect setting.

Diane Sullivan, CEO and president of Brown Shoe Company started the evening by ringing the NYSE closing bell with her team and ‪Grammy-award-winning artist Fergie. Everyone then headed off to the main bash featuring a performance by Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.

“Ringing the bell today, well Diane rang it and I did the banging of the gavel, was exhilarating.” Said Fergie. “It was more thrilling than I thought it was going to be. It was just so exciting to be up there looking at this room that I’ve seen in so many movies. I feel very blessed to be with a company that’s been around longer than I have.”

“It humbles us to be part of such a small group of companies to celebrate 100 years on the NYSE. We’re only the 24th company to do this, so it’s very exciting for us,” said Ms Sullivan.

BROWN SHOE COMPANY Celebrates 100 Years on the NYSE with JENNIFER HUDSON

The $2.5 billion, global footwear company owns the licensing to Vince, Sam Edelman, Carlos Santana and Fergie Footwear, to name a few fashion labels under their umbrella. “I’m the third generation of my family to do business with Brown Shoe. We are thrilled that they bought our company and we’re really lucky to be a part of their history.” Sam Edelman told Shindigger.

Shindigger toasted the Brown Company’s milestone with a crowd full of JHud fanatics including, Nelly, Estelle, Derek Blasberg, Sam Edelman, Libby Edelman, and Kenneth Cole.

Estelle praised her gal pal, “Jennifer Hudson’s my girl. There’s no favorite song, there’s a favorite Jennifer.”  While Nelly added, “I love Jennifer on the screen. I think she’s the most talented screen actor and musician. I would love to see her in more movies that are musicals. I don’t think there’s any other artist like that, and she combines singing and acting so well that she might be the best ever at it.”

Guests had the choice of enjoying either pomegranate margaritas in mini Patron bottles or a more sultry bacon and bourbon concoction. An oyster bar, mini pizzas served in personal boxes and a burger station accompanied the swanky drinks.

Sullivan then gave a short thank you speech before introducing Jennifer Hudson, saying, “We are big fans of hers, and she embodies everything we want to be as a company.”

Jennifer Hudson put on a performance nothing short of spectacular in the form of a , thirty minute set including “Spotlight,” “Can’t Describe” “Don’t Look Down,” and “Angel.” She then put her best foot forward with “I’m Every Woman,” “How Will I Know,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” The entire room loved her, and even Shindigger busted a move.

BROWN SHOE COMPANY Celebrates 100 Years on the NYSE with JENNIFER HUDSON

Photos by BFA

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