When it comes to creating a home, designer-artist Adam Charlap Hyman sees things a little differently. Not for him is the concept of rotating pieces or swapping items around until they sit well; rather his collected belongings are composed into a comfortable picture and there they stay. ‘I’m more likely to move than redecorate,’ he says. ‘Not because there’s only one way of arranging things, but when I’m done, I’m done.’
It’s a formula that makes sense when you consider his creative background – artists and sculptors on his maternal side (he has recently collaborated with his mother on a wallpaper range for Schumacher) and musicians on his father’s side – his grandfather is pianist and composer Dick Hyman.
His toymaker father David is also a fine artist. ‘I suppose that might be why I think of a project as more of a composition or a living sculpture,’ says Adam. ‘It’s similar to the creation of an artwork or writing a score.’ His eighth-floor, pre-war apartment east of midtown Manhattan is a testament to that.
A surprising and somewhat surrealist melee of design classics, contemporary pieces, and antiques, it manages to look comfortably lived-in rather than overly intentional. Although Adam modestly describes the apartment as ‘a little rough around the edges’ it has an easy flow, with something to delight the eye at every turn, whether Nicola L’s arresting 1970s Eye lamp in the living room or a classic pair of Aesthetic Movement chairs in the reading nook.
‘I wanted the interior to reflect the apartment’s Turtle Bay setting, which is a little old-school, a little faded in places, with traditional row houses interspersed among tower blocks,’ Adam explains.
So, in the living room, a 17th-century tapestry inherited from his Spanish grandmother makes an opulent backdrop to pan-era pieces, including a molten-looking silver stool by Shun Kinoshita, an irreverent Play-Doh vase by art collective Bruce High Quality Foundation and a 1970s sofa by Klaus Uredat, topped with dime store pompoms. Playing with scale and silhouette in this way is what Adam, one half of architectural design firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero, is known for.
Along with partner Andre Herrero, he has designed interiors for retailers including Aesop, as well as immersive exhibition spaces. A playful nature informs Adam’s decorative approach, too.
Though his eye ranges from modern design to Victorian antiques, there is a unifying theme. ‘No matter their era, I’m drawn to pieces that are abstract in some way,’ he says of this Dali-esque sensibility. ‘I like objects that don’t necessarily look like the thing that they are; pieces that are slightly disassociated from their function.’
Unsurprisingly, a Mario Ceroli chair in the bedroom features a giant back that seems to grow up the wall, and a bronze headboard adorned with ceramic and shell is more art installation than something to recline against.
The success of these interiors perhaps lies in the fact that many pieces are imbued with meaning. Several were made by Adam’s peers (and friends) in the design world; a botanical sculpture was crafted by his aunt, Carmen Almon, and the wallpapers are the result of a collaboration with his artist mother Pilar Almon.
‘Ultimately, I think a home should reflect its owner’s values, desires and passions,’ he says. ‘A portrait of a person.’ One can’t help feeling that this space captures an image of a man with boundless imagination.
Meet the designer: Adam Charlap Hyman
What's the small change you think can have a big impact?
Paint your ceiling the same color as the walls or, if white, a slightly creamier white than the walls, or a very pale pink.
Favorite decorative style?
Victorian for its radical creativity, crazy use of pattern, texture and textile, and the tension between industrial production and artistry.
Your style in three words?
Light-hearted, thoughtful, confident.
What's your go to design detail?
I find that adding sconces can enhance or improve the architecture of a room immensely.
What's your design inspiration?
Everywhere, but especially books, old magazines and visiting houses I’m interested in.
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