January 30, 2015

An Art-Filled Home in New York's Chelsea Neighborhood

In Ceylan Ecer's unique live/work space in Shigeru Ban's Metal Shutter Houses in West Chelsea, art is the daily experience.

by Karen Lehrman Bloch photographer Costas Picadas


Wall street would seem like an unlikely career choice for a young woman whose parents are sculptors and who put off buying a car so she could acquire her first piece of art. But after college, Ceylan Ecer started at Goldman Sachs, looking for a different lifestyle from her family of artists and architects. Yet she could run only so far: as an associate at Goldman Sachs, she found herself advising the bank's partners on their personal art collections. She quickly built up a following and finally left Wall Street to work full-time as an art advisor. "I went from being 'the art girl in finance' to being 'the Goldman girl in the art world,'" she says.

Looking for a residence/office that would exhibit her own collection of post-war and contemporary art as well as the work of her clients, Ecer discovered Shigeru Ban's first condominium in the United States—Metal Shutter Houses in West Chelsea. "The artworks I have merge with his unique architecture and are at their best in his openness," says Ecer. "But I like that none takes over the other. They coexist."

The building is defined by the way it erases boundaries, with 20-foot-high exterior glass walls that can retract to open the living room up to the terrace. In Ecer's 2,000-square-foot, two-floor loft, interior design takes a back seat to the view and the art. "I have this incredible 'sculpture' almost sitting on my terrace, Frank Gehry's IAC building." Her northern view encompasses Jean Nouvel's towering glass mosaic, as well as the David Zwirner Gallery, which Ecer regards as an aesthetic lodestar.

Inside, the walls are hung with a mix of works from Ecer's own collection and from the collections of her private clients. "I try to curate the space to create a dialogue between the artworks and also between the artworks and the space itself," she explains. Because her clients include collectors at the top rungs of the art world, those artworks can include de Koonings from the 2011 MoMA retrospective and Kiki Smith sculptures found in the Whitney's permanent collection. "I'm very lucky I get to live with them," she says.

While Ecer doesn't present formal exhibitions, she does give private viewings and often hosts parties for charities and art/architecture-related programs such as the Institute of Public Architecture. Client meetings take place in the downstairs gallery area, while she works out of the office or on one of the terraces. Ecer concedes that one day she may focus more energy on her loft's furnishings. "But there's always more art to buy," she says.