It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago to the day–October 17, 1987–I founded my own firm, Glenn Gissler Design. Of course, publicity is important to a young designer, and my first significant break came about 16 months later when Suzanne Slesin, then a reporter at the New York Times, did a big feature on me for the paper’s Home Section. (Suzy now runs her own terrific publishing company, Pointed Leaf Press.) I knew Michael Steinberg, Suzy’s husband and owner of Furniture of the Twentieth Century, a marvelous and much-lamented Manhattan showroom that was pivotal in popularizing modern design in the 1980s. Michael introduced me to Suzy at one of his openings; she gave me her card and said, “Let me know if you have any projects.” I followed up with her and two weeks later a 1,200-word feature, A Designer Tests His Wings: Maximal Style for Minimalist Tastes, appeared like magic on February 23, 1989.
I only received one new-business call from the story. “I’m calling for Mr. Ian Schrager,” said the person on the phone. “He’s in the hotel business.” Ian had recently completed the Royalton and was working on the Paramount. I met him at the latter property where he showed me the small rooms and asked me what I would do with them. In the event, Ian had me do his beach house on Dune Road in Southampton. He had originally owned the place, which was stucco-and-slate and had 14 bedrooms, with Steve Rubell. After it was done, Ian said, “Kelly Klein is going to call you.” Which she did. I’ll tell you about designing for Calvin and Kelly Klein in my next post.
Every so often I make a trip to IKEA, which is like an enormous souk filled with bright and cheerful Scandinavian home furnishings. I’m always amazed at how many things I see there that are attractive not only for economic reasons but also for their design and construction. Here are a few of my favorite items.
VÄRDE base cabinet, in birch veneer and white melamine, is ideal for use as a free-standing kitchen island. It’s available in all sorts of different interior configurations; just add your own stone or quartz counter top.
BRASA floor reading lamp comes in black or chrome finish, has a really stable flat base, is height adjustable, and has two different light intensities. Perfect!
GÅSER high-pile rug is really fluffy and vailable in a good taupe color (as well as brown and gray-blue). The biggest size is 5′ 7″ x 7′ 10″; put two together if you need something larger.
ALVINE RÄFFLA pillow comes in a great red/blue/natural combo; it’s well made, the stripes match nicely, and the buttons make the cover easy to remove. Buy at least three. IKEA also has terrific long, skinny pillows.
I live on the eastern edge of the Meatpacking District, on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and 14th Street, in what was the New York County Bank Building. It’s a neo-classical temple with Corinthian columns and Beaux-Arts touches, designed in 1907 by DeLemos & Cordes, the architects of Macy’s on 34th Street. My building stands directly across the street from the former New York Savings Bank on the northwest corner. Built in 1897, it’s a Roman temple of white Vermont marble capped by an impressive copper dome. (It once housed Balducci’s but is now a CVS.) The A.I.A. Guide to New York City notes that the two bank buildings are “a rare occurrence for this city: a pair of classically inspired sentinels guarding the western corridor of 14th Street” leading to the Meatpacking District or, as it’s officially known, the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
Laura Bohn lives in the former New York County National Bank Building at 14th Street and 8th Avenue, the beginning of the Meatpacking District.
The former New York Savings Bank stands across the street from Laura’s building, creating “a pair of classically inspired sentinels guarding the western corridor of 14th Street” and the Meatpacking District beyond.
The Meatpacking District is definitely a hotbed of trendy fashion and design stores. Some of my favorites include Jeffrey New York, Alexander McQueen, Diane von Furstenberg, and Vitra.
Jeffrey New York (twin to an Atlanta location) at 449 West 14th Street is a swank mini-department store that features runway-hot men’s and women’s wear in a cool warehouse space.
The Alexander McQueen store at 417 West 14th Street continues to be a high fashion Mecca despite the death of the extraordinarily talented designer in 2010. Photograph by Robert Wright/New York Times