AM­BI­TIONS

An ex­pan­sive New York loft re­ceives a cosy touch from il­lus­tri­ous Man­hat­tan de­sign duo Ashe + Le­an­dro.

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Ariel Ashe and Reinaldo Le­an­dro’s ini­tial en­counter was not par­tic­u­larly aus­pi­cious. Shortly af­ter meet­ing in the of­fices of the Man­hat­tan de­sign firm Pierce Allen back in 2004, Le­an­dro in­vited Ashe to a play star­ring Mary-Louise Parker. To his sur­prise, she turned him down. “I thought she was the cool girl in the of­fice,” he re­calls. “She thought I was ask­ing her out on a date.” Not only are they now firm friends, but Ashe + Le­an­dro is one of New York’s hottest de­sign firms, with a project list that in­cludes a Man­hat­tan loft and a house in Lon­don’s Bel­size Park for Cold­play’s lead gui­tarist, Jonny Buck­land; a 1930s Los An­ge­les hunt­ing lodge for ac­tress Jen­nifer Car­pen­ter; a TriBeCa res­i­dence for Naomi Watts; and a home for co­me­dian (and Ashe’s brother-in-law) Seth Mey­ers. The own­ers of this NoHo loft — a re­cruit­ment agency founder and his fash­ion stylist wife — are them­selves no strangers to celebrity; the four-bed­room apart­ment was bought from one of Pi­casso’s grand­sons and they count Matt Da­mon among their neigh­bours. It is lo­cated on the top floor of what was a Re­nais­sance-style ware­house, built in the late 19th cen­tury and trans­formed into apart­ments in the 1980s. While its lo­ca­tion near the sub­way was handy for their el­dest daugh­ter’s school run, the space it­self was equally at­trac­tive. “It’s very open, there’s lots of light and there’s ex­posed wood,” says the owner. “It felt like a place we could live in for a lot of years.” An­other as­set is un­de­ni­ably its 110-square-me­tre roof ter­race. When it came to choos­ing a de­sign firm, the de­ci­sion was easy. Ashe, a child­hood friend of one half of the cou­ple had ac­tu­ally in­tro­duced them. “She al­ways had an amaz­ing aes­thetic,” the owner re­calls. “What she and Reinaldo do re­ally well is mak­ing homes. They’re not just beau­ti­ful spa­ces, they’re also ex­tremely live­able.” Apart from a re­quest for a kid-friendly loft, Ashe and Le­an­dro were more or less given carte blanche. “They let us do what we wanted,” says Ashe, “although we were very much aware that his wife is a lit­tle bo­hemian.” Al­most no struc­tural work was re­quired. ››

‹‹ The team sim­ply added a few built-in clos­ets and tweaked the kitchen, in­stalling sub­way tiles, black slate and dark-grey cab­i­netry to com­ple­ment the over­all in­dus­trial vibe. The fur­nish­ings are very much in keep­ing with the de­sign­ers’ style, which is a fu­sion of their dif­fer­ent back­grounds. Le­an­dro was brought up in Cara­cas, Venezuela, and is largely in­flu­enced by trop­i­cal Mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture. Ashe hails from New Mex­ico, where her fa­ther runs a con­struc­tion firm. “He used to have me tile bath­rooms with my small hands and taught me how to drive a back­hoe trac­tor around the age of six,” she says. To­day, their work is best char­ac­terised by a strong in­ter­play of tex­tures, colour and a touch of the tribal (Moroc­can rugs are par­tic­u­lar favourites). The home is di­vided into two very dis­tinct ar­eas. The large, more for­mal front room is en­livened by a bright blue couch and yel­low side ta­ble, coun­ter­bal­anced by an oth­er­wise sub­dued pal­ette. “That’s gen­er­ally what we do,” says Le­an­dro. “We put in colour and then tone it down.” The fam­ily room at the back, mean­while, is an­chored by a large sec­tional sofa, which is up­hol­stered in an out­door fab­ric to make it stain-re­sis­tant, suitable for life with three young chil­dren. It’s not only the young­sters who get to have fun here. The own­ers them­selves love to en­ter­tain in a mul­ti­tude of ways. Last year, they held a po­lit­i­cal fundraiser at­tended by Hil­lary Clin­ton, and they have hosted a din­ner for 40 on the roof ter­race to cel­e­brate the launch of a friend’s fash­ion line. Their best cel­e­bra­tion, how­ever, was a more in­ti­mate gath­er­ing of 15 at their en­gage­ment party. Among the happy few was their match­maker, Ashe. “I owe her so much,” ad­mits the owner. “She not only de­signed our home. She also helped me build a fam­ily and fill it with love.”

BY IAN PHILLIPS PHO­TOGRAPHED BY STEPHAN JUL­LIARD

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