November 10, 2017
'Fox-Nahem: The Design Vision of Joe Nahem,' from Abrams Books
Interior Designer Joe Nahem and artist David Wiseman give us the inside scoop on the designer's new book, 'Fox-Nahem: The Design Vision of Joe Nahem.'
by New York Spaces
NYS: How did you choose which projects to showcase in your book, FOX-NAHEM: The Design Vision of Joe Nahem?
Joe Nahem: We are fortunate to have many clients that are major art collectors. While that is the central theme in the book—to integrate design with art- we chose projects that represented a cross section of styles and architecture: Everything from a super modern beach house by Annabelle Selldorf to a post-civil war building like the Dakota.
NYS: Tell us about the cover project and that particular image. What about the shapes and forms drew you to having this stand as the cover?
Joe Nahem: As you can imagine, going through all your favorite projects and then choosing possible cover shots, was no easy task. Along with Anthony Iannacci and the Abrams publishing team, we chose this cover shot. It incorporates much of what is represented in the book; custom furniture designed by Fox-Nahem (sofa with handmade grill work panel on side), classic Gio Ponti vintage chair from Phillips, a new artisan metal side table from France, and a piece by one of my favorites: Wendell Castle. And it was all set against a classic background of plaster moldings and a modern piece by Ryan McGinness.
NYS: What draws you to placing blue-chip works of art next to antiques or vintage pieces?
Joe Nahem: As most of our clients come to us with their amazing and constantly changing collections of "blue-chip" art, it's our task to work with these collections and pieces in mind. I can understand how this could be intimidating to some, but at the end of the day, even the most avid collector wants a home that is inviting, comfortable and practical. And while it can be challenging to work with these oversized and often dominant pieces, it takes a particular sense of balance to complement these works and not be intimidated by them.
NYS: Your projects tend to remind of anywhere but the U.S. Would you say they showcase an international flair, and if so, what would a common unifying them be?
Joe Nahem: I'm not sure I agree with that. I often think of our work as very American. I can see the Euro connection, but helping our clients to make these spaces living and breathing homes and not "showcases", or galleries is the American way. Additionally, many of our own custom pieces, and those of the artisans with whom we work are definitely Made in the USA.
NYS: What is it like to work with Joe Nahem? Are you ever blown away by a particular way he incorporates one of your pieces? If so, give us an example!
David Wiseman: Joe gives just the right amount of guidance to set the direction for a project, then steps aside and allows me to create in a free and supportive manner. The branch chandelier that I made for the residence in Greenwich, CT, was a groundbreaking project for me, made possible by the productive dialogue with Joe.
NYS: We love the mix of vintage, old, contemporary etc. but in furnishings and art. What is your favorite melding of styles in the book?
Joe Nahem: I can't say I have one favorite, but working on the "Storied Park Avenue Duplex" was a complex tale
of mixing all of the above. This 740 Park Avenue duplex was the former, childhood home of Jackie Kennedy. With an extensive art collection including works by Warhol, Richard Prince, Hirst, Koons, Cindy Sherman and many others, we complemented these valuable pieces with a balance of collectible vintage furnishings and Fox-Nahem custom designed work, as well as new pieces by talented artisans. While the apartment was gut renovated, along with the help of the Alveary Architecture team, our goal was to keep the architecture connected to what was there originally.... but with a Fox-Nahem twist (take a peek at the bathrooms and the kitchen).
NYS: We are obsessed with page 231 of your book... between the incredibly beautiful white of the dining chairs to the paints and the peacock blue automotive paint on the wall of the dining room, we cannot stop admiring it. Tell us about the design of this room!
Joe Nahem: This room is in the Annabelle Selldorf beach house we did for a major gallery owner and his family. The room has only one point of entry so we proposed the high-gloss car lacquer paint to bring some additional depth and also to highlight the incredible Paul Evans hanging server. We worked with Nakashima to make this wonderful dining table and, of course the George Condo and Cindy Sherman artwork helps bring it all together. I adore this room....and these clients
NYS: We also absolutely love the upholstered headboard and every aspect of the corner of the bedroom on page 239... tell us about this!
Joe Nahem: This bedroom is in the same Selldorf project and with the décor of this room, we certainly took these clients out of their comfort zone. They prefer a very tailored & simple palette. The large room has huge ocean views and like the art, can sometimes be overpowering. We wanted to anchor the bed and create a contained and cozy spot, as there was not much furniture in the room. We found the cool ric-rac tape and applied it to the simple linen.
NYS: As artists and designers, what is it like working with an interior designer on a project?
David Wiseman: Work with a talented interior designer, like Joe, can be tremendously rewarding. A designer can set the stage and outline a general direction for a new work, which allows me to jump past the "proverbial blank canvas".
NYS: How does working with fellow visionaries change or enhance the way you approach a project?
Joe Nahem: I'm not sure I could put myself in the "Visionaries" category with mega-talents like Wendell and David. I don't know that Fox-Nahem would be where we are today without our collaborations with these mega-talents. We are so lucky to have these opportunities to work with and learn from these legends of great design.
David Wiseman: The book is a magnificent representation of the range and elegance of Joe's vision. He masterfully creates environments that honor the interests and identities of his clients.
NYS: What are you all working on now?
Joe Nahem: We are working on another project for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Downey Jr, in Malibu. It's a super modern Bini-Shell structure, facing the Pacific Ocean. We're also working on a whole floor in a Park Ave co-op and hoping to be collaborating with David Wiseman again. We have a new exciting project in East Hampton. A large-scale apartment in Miami; a new waterfront house on Shelter Island and a very special townhouse in Greenwich Village.
David Wiseman: I am excited to be developing a new body of work weaves together a range of ideas to create layered and complex motifs for ceilings, bronze screens, and lighting. I am also in the process of developing a new studio in Los Angeles, which will include a viewing room, gardens, and larger facilities, allowing me to share my process and production with a larger audiences.
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