This vast industrial apartment in SoHo, right in the heart of New York’s Manhattan district, could be described as an architectural representation of fashion designer Phillip Lim’s style. Since launching his eponymous brand (he was 31 at the time, hence the name) with friend, co-founder and current CEO Wen Zhou 15 years ago, Lim has aimed to inject ‘street elegance’ into every one of his collections, and you can see that same creative direction at play here, where cast-iron columns sit happily alongside some of the most exciting art and furnishings of the 20th century.
Always busy with a multitude of work and travel commitments, Lim wanted his house to be a sanctuary, somewhere he could spend time with friends, cultivate his passions and relax. To do that, he needed more room, so the decision was made to buy the one-bedroom apartment next door and knock through to create a spacious open-plan living area.
Initially, Lim planned to do all of the work himself. ‘I wanted to create my home and not have someone tell me how to live,’ he explains. But, when the project proved more difficult than the designer had imagined, he enlisted the help of architect Joe Nix (his wife, Maria Vu, is 3.1 Phillip Lim’s senior brand director). Work lasted for 18 months in total – an interminable time for Lim, who compared the slow process to the pace of ready-to-wear fashion, where a new collection can be developed in 45 days.
When he was finally able to begin decorating the space, he set about it with signature eclecticism. With its gallery-like white walls, his loft houses rare and striking pieces, from the ‘IKB’ glass coffee table, designed by Yves Klein and filled with the artist’s own iconic blue pigment, to classic furniture by some of the biggest names in design.
A ‘Transat’ chair by Eileen Gray and wooden bench by George Nakashima are juxtaposed with curiosities and completely unique finds. In the living room, what looks like leather armour in a kneeling position is a sculpture by London-based stylist and artist Úna Burke, who has also made a stage costume for Lady Gaga. Meanwhile, in the library, the leather swing, part of the ‘Petit H’ collection by Hermès, was bought on a whim when Lim spotted it hanging in a shop window.
These kind of gut decisions are important to how Lim has developed his collection; he believes in love at first sight, whether he’s falling for a print by Hiroshi Sugimoto from New York’s Gagosian gallery (his very first art purchase) or an anonymous canvas, covered with streaks of white paint, from a local charity shop. ‘I like cheap and chic,’ he quips. ‘You learn that there is a design behind the things you are attracted to.’ 31philliplim.com
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