Category Archives: Travel

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 Nicole Miller- New York Observer

At Home With Fashion Designer Nicole Miller in Her Tribeca Apartment

Nicole Miller in her home.  (Photo by Celeste Sloman/New York Observer)

“I like to spread out my Sunday newspapers with my coffee in the morning,” said Nicole Miller, while sprawled on her couch on a rainy afternoon in Tribeca. Ms. Miller shares the 3,200-square-foot loft with her husband, son and Godzilla, her beloved Rhodesian ridgeback. The palatial space consists of three bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, three bathrooms and a large living area. The arched windows and simplistic white walls are enhanced with views of the Freedom Tower. Bright accents, including orange and green rugs, Verner Panton royal blue chairs, and midnight black wood floors add depth to the airy space. Even Ms. Miller’s vase collection, ranging from a Scandinavian blue vase to a forest green vase handmade by her teenage son, proves that the beauty of the home’s décor lies in the details.From home goods and handbags, to jewelry and bridal gowns, Ms. Miller has been one the power players in the fashion industry since the 1980s. Calm and serene in demeanor, she confessed to being a real foodie. “My mother’s French, so I was always obsessed with food, except I hesitate to mention foie gras anymore because people want to kill you.” The designer can be found picking up fried sea urchin from Nobu, dining at Da Silvano, or finding the right ingredients at Chelsea Market for Bouillabaisse or risotto.

You are an avid collector of contemporary art. Have you always been collecting? I went to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and the first paintings I ever bought were at RISD alumni auctions. The first one was a still life from one of the teachers. I’ve bought a lot from my friend Mary Boone who also attended RISD. As for my Ross Bleckner painting, I told Mary I wanted one and she said, “I will keep it in mind.” One day she called and said, “I have the Ross Bleckner for you.” I went over to the gallery and was thinking, “What if I don’t like it? How can I say no?” Then I walked in and said, “Oh my god. Sold!” She couldn’t have picked out a more perfect piece for me. I also love this painting by Julio Galán. He had been painting my dresses in Mexico and I ended up introducing him to my friend Paige Powell, who worked for Andy Warhol; Andy loved his work and bought some pieces.

Ms. Miller's living space. (Photo by Celeste Sloman/New York Observer)

Who designed your home and what are a few of your favorite things? Dan Rowen designed my home; you can see his modernist aesthetic. He had previously done many art galleries in the city. A few things I love are my Serge Mouille light fixture from a 1950s art dealer and a red Jean Prouvé sideboard that has all my kitchen stuff in it. The color makes the room so happy. My painting by Damien Loeb is a favorite, too. He actually lives in the neighborhood. 

How long have you lived here? When I first bought this apartment about 30 years ago, it was just one apartment, but since then I have connected two more spaces to the original loft space. My first apartment was on East 77th street, then I gradually crawled downtown to 52nd, then 38th, and so to here. I couldn’t live above 14th Street now. I always felt going home to Tribeca was like going home to the country at night. It has changed a lot since then, but it is still very much a neighborhood. The restaurants are great.

How does being a fashion designer influence your ideas for designing a home? Since I work in such an eclectic environment, I try to keep my apartment pretty sparse, however, it’s hard to keep things minimal the longer you live in a place. We also have a lot of plants here. My husband is more of the gardener, where as I check my basil every day and love herbs.

(Photo by Celeste Sloman/New York Observer)

You spent time studying fashion in Paris. How important a place is it for you?  Every year I go to Paris for the fabric show Premiére Vision, and sometimes for vacation. Having a French connection has always been meaningful to me. It was really helpful growing up speaking French and I’ve always had a lot of French friends. Paris always reenergizes me, but so do a lot of other places. I travel a lot in the United States and I love going to Los Angeles. New Orleans is one of the most fun cities. I’ve always loved the cities that have a culture and a personality.

I know you love to ski and wakeboard. How long have you been doing those activities and how did you start? I started taking waterski lessons about 12 years ago with Camille Duvall-Hero. She taught me how to get up on one ski. Later, I started skiing with Global Boarding in Sag Harbor. Now I ski, wakeboard and wake skate. My husband, son and I all enjoy it.

You’ve lived here for 30 years, what makes New York home? People always say, “Are you a New Yorker?” and I say, “Well, I didn’t grow up here, but I just can’t imagine living any place else.” I just have a sense of calm when I come back to New York. I’m always happy when I return from a trip. New York just feels like home. 

(Photo by Celeste Sloman/New York Observer)

Read more at The Observer

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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.”  

Read more at the Observer

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New York Observer: July Tastemakers

How to Look Good On A Plane

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  • 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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Interview Magazine: DANNIJO HAS IT IN THE BAG


To celebrate the fifth anniversary of their accessories brand DANNIJO, sisters Danielle and Jodie Snyder are launching their first Fall/Winter collection of handbags. Since their early beginnings crafting jewelry and teaching themselves wirework with their father’s medical tools, the sisters have been accessorizing the necks, wrists, and fingers of celebrities including Natalie Portman, Beyoncé, and Jessica Chastain. “Handbags are new territory for us,” says Jodie. “It was really exciting to start from scratch. Some aspects of design were easier, like hardware and detailing, because of our background in jewelry, but the brand was ready for it and it was a natural next step.”

The Italian-made handbag collection pays homage to the DANNIJO boho-chic aesthetic. The styles include a backpack, two clutches, two cross-bodies, a top-handle bag, a tote, and a pouch that can be worn on any occasion. “As always, we see our collections as day-to-night and versatile, so we wanted the bags to be easy to wear,” adds Danielle. “We thought of the bag as the accessory, as opposed to accessorizing bags, which is why the collection is so sleek and clean with subtle branded elements. Like all of our collections, there is an eclectic mix of inspiration: references from ’90s grunge to old Hollywood glam, to moments of minimalism.”

Each style is available in three to four colors, ranging from black and sapphire blue to rich oxblood and more neutral petrol green. The designers used materials such as flocked suede, graphic houndstooth raffia, tartan embossed hair calf, smooth calf leather, and metallic water snake. Jodie says, “We wanted them to be well made and high quality, but also be competitively priced, and there wasn’t much at this price point that spoke to our woman.” All styles retail from $498-$1198.

The Snyder sisters always design together, but they bring their individual perspectives to the process. Danielle says she is a bit more bohemian and rock-‘n’-roll inspired, while Jodie tends towards a more classic sensibility. When it comes to a favorite bag, Danielle weighs in, “The oxblood Lipton with bibbing is probably our favorite because it’s so easy to wear and really captures the spirit of our woman. For the Fall collection, we wanted to create a rich pallet of dark jewel tones in different textures; the Viper clutch in sapphire and emerald velvet has the texture of stingray and the black leather clutch has a diamond embossing that we juxtaposed with iconic metal hardware. I love that you can hold it by the top strap or wear it as a backpack. The assortment is about ease and utility while still being chic and beautiful.”


Read more at Interview Magazine.

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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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Interview Magazine: Ryan Korban’s New Luxury



In his new design book, Ryan Korban: Luxury Redefined(Harper Collins), Ryan Korban not only reveals his approach, but also reminds us that sometimes creativity can’t be taught.

The book’s pages are filled with projects and images that continue to inspire the young designer. From photographs by Karen Knorr to the project that launched his career, Edon Manor, Korban underlines the significance of integrating luxury into everyday life and bringing a sense of drama to every room. We caught up with Ryan Korban at his Central Park South apartment to discuss his first book, designing on a budget, and how he defines a complete space.

NEESHA ARTER: Your first book, Ryan Korban: Luxury Redefined, features your projects over the past six years that define the new meaning of modern luxury. What is the new definition of luxury?

RYAN KORBAN: I’ve always said the new luxury is the use of luxury. We saw it in fashion and I think it translates nicely into interior design. All of a sudden people started beating up precious items or wearing fur coats with jeans, and then the Hermès bags came off the shelves. It used to be treated as something so precious, but now luxury has taken on a new life.

ARTER: How can New Yorkers achieve modern luxury on a budget?

KORBAN: I’m a huge believer in the home accessory, and I think that’s what tells a story and gives a space heritage. I think people have the misconception that they need to spend the most money on the big pieces in a home, but I’ve always believed in spending the most money on the small pieces. I think you’ll be able to see that throughout the book.

ARTER: What are three critical accessories that you recommend?

KORBAN: I think what you want to do in any space is create a sense of drama. I think sculptures are a really easy way to do that and elevate any sort of space. I’m also a huge believer in lighting, as you can probably see. [laughs] I have a lot of lamps. I think it’s another easy way to transform a space, and I don’t think you can have too much lighting, especially in New York City or any metropolitan setting. I would also say books, because it’s a really affordable way to add something to your apartment.

ARTER: What inspired you to do a book?

KORBAN: My friends and my clients inspired me to do a book. I’m so grateful and so lucky to work with so many amazing people. All of my projects made me want to do a book because it’s so much more than interior design. It’s the fashion, the art, the entertaining, and everything else.

ARTER: Why now?

KORBAN: I thought, “Why wait?” I didn’t want to be afraid of trying something at a young age because so many interior design books are by artists I look up to, but I am able to send a different message to a different group.

ARTER: From the Balenciaga store to James Franco’s apartment, you have done many different projects. What are questions you ask a client before designing a space for them? ‬‬

KORBAN: It’s less of a conversation and more of a visual exchange. I like to always start with a feeling. What’s the mood of it? When it’s a retail space, it’s really important to talk about the mood, because they are all about the collection. I love the challenge of making spaces so alluring that someone needs to purchase something to have a piece of the space.

ARTER: Have you ever had a client who doesn’t really have a vision and allows you to take over?

KORBAN: Yes, that’s usually when it’s the best. It doesn’t happen often. [laughs] I think the dream is that someone hires you for what you do and lets you do it. You’d be surprised at how rarely that happens, but when someone does, you get the most magical product.

ARTER: You have been known for merging fashion and interiors. Is there any particular designer you would love to work with?

KORBAN: I would have really liked to work with Halston.

ARTER: You have three critical elements in your style: sex, romance, and fantasy. If you had to choose, which is the most important to you?

KORBAN: That stems from how we were going to base the book. They were going to be the three sections of the book because they’ve really stuck with me. It’s hard to say which one of them is most important, because I really do think it’s the combination of them that creates something alluring and beautiful.

ARTER: In the intro of your book you talk about the chemistry between your parents being a source of inspiration for your design. You mention your mother’s glamour, fur coats, and the romantic décor of the house you grew up in. What are some of your favorite childhood memories?

KORBAN: I think it was a unique position because I was young in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and I had an older brother who was right in the “angst stage.” We were in this house that was decorated in all pastels, with my mom who had long fake red nails with the late-’80s mentality of “more is more.”

ARTER: Do you ever look back and think, “Maybe I did have an eye for design?”

KORBAN: Yeah, all the time. It was just the want and the desire. Some people are born and know exactly what they want to do, but my journey was figuring out that everything I was interested in put together was interior design. At an early age, it would be the dining room table for holidays, and I also loved going to the florist with my mom. I realized later that the culmination of my interests was interior design.

ARTER: Your father is Lebanese; how has his heritage influenced you?

KORBAN: I think it’s interesting to grow up with a family from the Middle East in the United States. He’s always really liked gold. [laughs] He was a hairdresser, very flashy and always had a few too many buttons undone on his shirts. I remember at a really young age picking out awnings for a salon he was doing called Le Papillon, which is “the butterfly” in French, and the one he picked out was black and the writing was gold and he always told me that you could never go wrong with that combination. That’s always stuck with me, and it’s funny because the cover of the book is black and gold. [laughs] It’s a very Lebanese thing.

ARTER: In your book, you mention the pros and cons of not being schooled in interior design. What is your advice to aspiring interior designers?

KORBAN: I looked at the spectrum on both ends. When I was at The New School in New York, I had friends who studied architecture and interior design, while I went the more liberal-arts route. I believe there is nothing better than an education and a skill set, but what was more important for me was experience. I also think it’s critical to have a very clear aesthetic, because there are so many designers and it’s easy to get lost.

ARTER: The seven sections of the book range from “The Little Details” to your beloved use of animal skins. How did you pick the sections?

KORBAN: I think they are the seven things that are most interesting for me to look at and design.

ARTER: Did you have a particular favorite?

KORBAN: I like them all, but I do have to say “The Little Details” have always been an important thing to me. I also love the one that focuses on the inspiration of flowers and how they inspire a color palette. I also love “The Suite Life,” because hotels have always been the ultimate environments to me.

ARTER: Your good friend Alexander Wang endlessly praises your design. He recently said the rooms you design are “rooms you never want to leave.” As a designer, what elements anchor a person to a room?

KORBAN: I think it’s a use of material. I don’t think it’s about what the item is, but what it’s finished in. I think what grounds a space is the materials that you use, so if you’re using stone or marble on the floor, you inherently feel like you’re in a place that’s really something.

ARTER: How do you know when a room in a home is complete? Is it a feeling you get?

KORBAN: That’s difficult. A home, to me, can feel finished but never complete. A personal space is never complete until your story is over, and your story’s never over.


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