Two West Village Apartments Share a Sensibility for Play and Elegance

Nicole Franzen

“I’m the ashtray guy,” Eric Wink jokes after detailing the numerous vintage examples that are peppered like Easter eggs in his very first front-to-back interior design project. A design fiend since his art history undergrad days, Eric started building up a private collection of vintage objets after he joined interior design studio Gachot as a brand director. Eventually, friends who saw his apartment began reaching out to ask him to rethink their space. Now, Eric has his very own practice that he’s helmed for nearly two years.

“A big part of my practice is, one, not to [imitate the aesthetic of] any era…,” Eric says, though Space Age and French Deco always serve as inspiration for his work. “They both have this slickness and reverence for a minimalist sort of design ethos, with a sense of individuality that avoids the spare coldness of true minimalism.”

He got to reference these eras in a new way when he designed a pair of apartments in tandem for two friends living in the same building in the West Village. “Both of these clients were really interested in exploring how to create spaces that felt masculine but not in obvious ways,” Eric says. He accomplished this through collecting pieces over time and seeing how each item informed the next. The result is two homes that feel distinct to each client’s personality.

“Everything is like a reaction to the thing we found before because it was this slow process of collecting things over time. There was a lot of one thing begetting another,” Eric says.

The first tenant is one that Eric describes as a “young, highly social” tech and entertainment executive who’s the ringleader of his friend group. He was moving into his own apartment for the very first time and felt like the one-bed, one-bath flat would form the perfect nexus point between friends living uptown and others based in Brooklyn. Despite being a fixer-upper (the warped floors needed to be refinished and an antechamber was eventually carved out between the main rooms to give each space some breathing room), “The client wanted a ‘party palace,’ but also a home that could be a respite from a fast life and hectic city,” Eric says of the historic ’60s apartment

One of Huroshi Sugimoto’s theater prints hangs over a ’60s-era French desk which abuts the living room. “I really love that artist and his work, and because the client works in tech, specifically in the entertainment space, it felt personal for him,” Eric says. The lamp is Sys Marstrand for Jie Ceramics.

The renovations happened over the course of a year in conjunction with Bannriver Contracting, with furnishings layered in throughout. First came the key pieces, like the custom charcoal mohair sofa or the Olavi Hanninen dining table, purchased at auction. Around them everything else started falling into place. “There was a lot of texting back and forth about, ‘Hey, there’s this thing at auction, you really should bid on it.’ And I know him so well already that there was this trust from the beginning that allowed for that dynamic.”

In the dining room, Eric layered in some vintage pieces with a sense of history, like the Olavi Hänninen table, to contrast the futuristic vibe conveyed by the dining chairs. The art on the left is by Ross Bleckner, and the vintage light fixture on the wall is from the ’60s.
Between the kitchen and the dining room, an illuminated bar table from the ’70s stands underneath a piece of ’90s American folk art. “It’s really meant as a side table, but because it lights up, it felt like this perfect beacon for a party, ‘Here’s the good stuff.’” The ’50s ceiling light is by Pierre Guariche.

Rather than viewing specific moments in time or reference points as inspiration, Eric explains that the goal was to create a space that felt disconnected from history and centered more on objects that the client responded to. Oftentimes, things would resonate for their playful nod to debauchery, like the Jeff Star ceramic bong displayed on a wine press pedestal in the dining room or the ’70s Kartell bar table that lights up at the top. “There is a spirit [from] the ’60s and ’70s in the space in terms of Italian and French space-age design, which is a big reference for me personally.”

This cozy antechamber room was constructed to connect the bathroom, bedroom, and living areas. It’s painted a mustard Farrow & Ball India Yellow on all sides and includes a French industrial light fixture from the ’60s plus a leather bar stool by Jacques Adnet. “The client was very clear from the beginning of the project that he did not want a beige space. He likes to explore color, and that was the idea behind this room.”

In the living room, even a bookshelf serves as a conduit for conversation during parties. “You’ll often have people hanging in the kitchen and people hanging in the living room, and then drinks get passed back and forth through the bookshelf,” Eric says. “I really love design that communicates sociability in some way.”

Eric enveloped the bedroom in the apartment on all sides in a soothing shade of powdery blue to help the client decompress. “The ceilings are on the lower side, so I didn’t want to call attention to that by painting them white,” he explains, adding that the ceiling paint is slightly lighter than the rest of the room to avoid a cave-like effect. The bed is from CB2, the side table is by Guy Bareff, the armchair is Leleu-Deshaye from the ’60s, and the fixture overhead is by Guillerme et Chambron. A portrait of the client, lensed by Eric, hangs opposite the bed.

The second tenant is a well-traveled marketing specialist, so the conversation for this space evolved around the idea of emulating a high-end hospitality environment. “Comfort was a primary focus for this project,” Eric explains, a balance that he struck through furniture and materiality (like the luxe fabrics ensconcing the most restorative pieces in the place, from the sofa recovered in wool to the bed furnished with oversized alpaca pillows).

The custom brushed aluminum table with a built-in bar for storing liquor is a nod to Donald Judd, one of Eric’s design influences. The ceramic stool on the left is by Hun-Chung Lee, the vintage chair on the right is by Albert Jacob for Grosfillex upholstered in alpaca fabric, and the sofa is by Marked NY recovered in Holland & Sherry wool. On the wall hangs a triptych of Roy Lichtenstein pieces, and the tables display a few vintage ashtrays.
“This custom wall hung cabinet is massive and runs the length of that wall. Behind that first door is a 60-inch TV, which was a fun way for us to hide it,” Eric says, noting that the other half is used for storage. “There’s a lot of creative thinking that went into it. ‘How can we incorporate a TV, but not make the whole room about it?’” The space-age floor lamp is vintage and the leather chair is by Dieter Rams for Vitsoe, with a custom rug underfoot.

Like the first apartment, the space was nearly brought down to the studs and then refreshed with new paint on the walls and fresh flooring underfoot. The tiny kitchen is the jewel of the home, with gleaming brushed steel cabinets and matching wall paneling from Reform playing off the dark stone slabs on the floors and countertops. Eric says it’s his favorite room in the house because of how it subverts sizing: “The conversation we had was, ‘How do we make this space feel special, despite its scale?’”

In the dining area, a custom lacquer dining table sits under a hanging light from Obsolete, based in Los Angeles. “The dining chairs are by this French designer, Etienne Fermigier, who I’m obsessed with,” Eric says. “We came across these chairs from a French design dealer and immediately jumped on them because he designed a lot of lighting that I love.” The large-scale portrait was lensed by Eric and given to the client as a gift, while the art on the right is by Federico Maddalozzo.

On the walls, sensual imagery (like the Pacifico Silano print of two wrestlers hanging over the bed) and Roy Lichtenstein Pop art lighten up the mood. “There’s obviously a sexiness and a sense of suggestion in that piece of art above the bed, and it’s always fun to be able to do that in a space that feels a bit serious.”

The tiny kitchen is Eric’s favorite room in this project, which he turned into a “little jewel box” by implementing brushed stainless steel paneling on the walls to match the Reform Kitchen cabinets and using the same Bas Stone slabs on the floor, countertops, and backsplash. The mirror is Hans Welling for Ceramano from the ’60s and the flush mounts are by Urban Electric.

There’s also some animated dialogue happening between the furnishings, with soft textures juxtaposing more severe elements like the custom aluminum coffee table or the leather Dieter Rams for Vitsoe chair facing it. “There’s a lot of industrial design happening throughout the project, and we really wanted to make sure we cut that with some moments of elegance and a bit of refinement,” Eric explains.

The serene bedroom is full of texture thanks to the custom wool bed and the large alpaca pillows on top. “The pillows are actually super oversized so that they could be thrown on top and the client didn’t need to fuss with making the bed so perfect,” Eric says. The side tables were custom-made, the vintage wall fixtures are Stilnovo from the ’50s, and the art above the bed is by Pacifico Silano.
The earthy Zia Zellige tiles on all sides make the bathroom feel extra special. It includes a Josh Greene Design mirror, ’60s J.T. Kalmar lights, and a custom vanity made from the same Bas Stone materials used the kitchen. “I always think it’s fun to pull vintage lighting into the bathroom as long as you have it wired correctly,” Eric says. “Oftentimes people default to using contemporary lighting in bathrooms just because it’s less of a headache than getting things waterproofed, but why not give the space the same personality as any other room?”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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