This Brook­lyn apart­ment is a trea­sure trove of up­cy­cled, re­cy­cled and an­tique finds. Words and pho­to­graphs by Mark C O’fla­herty

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - THE CUT / HOME -

EVEN IF AMER­I­CAN lives don’t, as F Scott Fitzger­ald once fa­mously wrote, have a sec­ond act, the rooms that house them fre­quently do. Es­pe­cially when the own­ers work in fash­ion. When Mark Halde­man, the US re­gional man­ager of Paul Smith, and James Aguiar, fash­ion dire ctor of Mod­ern Lux­ury mag­a­zines and for­mer cre­ative di­rec­tor at Nina Ricci, moved back into the Brook­lyn apart­ment they had rented a decade ear­lier, they knew they didn’t want it to look any­thing like it had be­fore. ‘ It was our first apart­ment to­gether, and a huge part of our lives,’ says Aguiar. ‘But it’s fun and chal­leng­ing to change. When we found out that th e ap a r t ment was av a i l a bl e an d de­cided to move back in, we knew we wanted a whole new look. It freaks me out when I go into some­one’s house and it’s a time cap­sule of a cer­tain pe­riod of their lives.’

Their new li­brary space rep­re­sents the most dra­matic change in the two­s­torey Brown­stone flat. Packed from floor to ceil­ing with fash­ion and de­sign mono­graph b o oks, the ro om has s wit c he d f ro m it s or i g i nal Di a na

The cou­ple aren’t purists. A lot of the fur­ni­ture is made up of re­uphol­stered thrifty finds

Vree­land ‘gar­den in hell’ red colour scheme to an emer­ald green, tak­ing its cue from a For­nasetti Mala­chite pat­tern that they love, now a wall­pa­per cov­er­ing the ceil­ing as well as the sides of the room. ‘ This is a space that ’s meant to in­spire,’ says Halde­man. ‘The shelves aren’t re­ally or­gan­ised; it’s nice to grab a book and just sit down with it and dis­cover some­thing. There’s also a TV for the evening – it’s the room we spend the most of our time in.’

There’s plenty of de­sign pedi­gree in this Brook­lyn home. Years be­fore Halde­man was ap­proached by Paul Smith, he worked with the in­te­rior de­signer John De­rian, and on the es­tate of the late artist Tony Du­quette. Still one of the most in­flu­en­tial names in stage and film de­sign, Du­quette was famed for his glam­orous, max­i­mal­ist flour­ishes. ‘I worked with a va­ri­ety of man­u­fac­tur­ers to get Tony’s de­signs back into pro­duc­tion,’ ex­plains Aguiar. The gold skele­ton of a gi­ant toad, sit­ting on a cof­fee ta­ble in the cou­ple’s lounge, is one of those re­made pie ces, while the huge, the­atri­cal paint­ing hanging in their stair­well was orig­i­nally the back­drop for a win­dow dis­play of Du­quette de­signs at Bergdorf Good­man. ‘The green fab­ric on the chairs in the li­brary is also some­thing we reis­sued with Jim Thomp­son fab­rics ,’ he adds .‘ It’ s Du­quette’s Royal Er­mine de­sign.’

Aguiar and Halde­man might be well-versed in ap­plied art but they aren’t purists. A lot of the fur­ni­ture in the flat is made up of re­uphol­stered thrifty finds, such as the head­board in the mas­ter bed­room, which was orig­i­nally in a room at the Wal­dorf As­to­ria. ‘ We found it in a ran­dom loft sale in Wil­liams­burg for a hun­dred bucks,’ re­calls Aguiar. There is a cup­board in the li­brary that has a cross-hatch pat­tern of brass rods on its doors. It looks like it could be some Gio Ponti mid­cen­tury trea­sure, but ac­tu­ally the pair found it as a wall hanging in the dis­count de­part­ment store Tar­get, had it cut up and at­tached it to the doors.

Their apart­ment is all fash­ion and fun. Aguiar de­scribes his favourite colour as ‘Pucci’, and their dress­ing room con­sists of Ikea wardrobes, cus­tomised to in­cor­po­rate cork pan­els, pinned with in­vi­ta­tions and in­spi­ra­tional fash­ion

im­ages. ‘We add to the col­lage and take away from it all the time,’ says Aguiar of the ex­panse of ephemera that looks just like a de­signer’s mood board.

Pre­dictably, Halde­man’s half of their wardrobe is full of Paul Smith. ‘Ac­tu­ally I have much less than half of the space,’ he points out. ‘I live rel­a­tively sim­ply be­cause I wear one la­bel, but James has tons and tons.’ Aguiar ad­mits he con­tin­u­ally fails at adopt­ing a one-in-one-out pol­icy with his clothes: ‘Some things I might only wear once, and they go into what I call “the ar­chive”.’ One stand­out piece in that ar­chive is a white suit that he cus­tomised him­self with thou­sands of goo­gly eyes. It ’s a lo ok that has ap­peared in a va­ri­ety of New York gos­sip col­umn and party pages.

One of the few things that has gone back on the wall of the Brook­lyn apart­ment af­ter be­ing here be­fore is a piece of vin­tage sig­nage which us e d to be­long to Halde­man’s un­cle. ‘He ran an an­tique store in the West Vil­lage,’ he ex­plains, ‘and had it painted for the shop. When he closed the store, he kept

Above left The gallery space, off the lounge, in­cludes work by Hunt Slonem (marl­bor­ough­gallery. com), Hugo Guin­ness – who sells prints via John De­rian (john­de­ – and fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor Manuel San­telices, whose work is avail­able via...

Right The wardrobes are all from Ikea, cus­tomised by the cou­ple so they can pin an ar­ray of ephemera and in­spi­ra­tional im­ages to them. Cen­tre The an­tique-store sign on the wall used to be­long to Halde­man’s un­cle, who had a shop in the West Vil­lage....

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