Art and Craft
Talk about good genes...served seven years as Ralph Lauren's European creative director before opening Chahan Interior Design and the Chahan Gallery simultaneously in Paris and amassing an international clientele.
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 8/2/2011 5:57:00 PM
firm: Chahan Interior Design
site: Los Angeles
Talk about good genes...served seven years as Ralph Lauren's European creative director before opening Chahan Interior Design and the Chahan Gallery simultaneously in Paris and amassing an international clientele. Chahan-who, like Cher, Madonna, and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Clodagh, goes by his first name alone-also has a cousin Vram, a fine-jeweler extraordinaire with a background that features a father and grandfather in the business, a baccalaureate from the American University in Paris, and studies at the Gemological Institute of America in Los Angeles. Long a private-label designer in L.A., he steps into the spotlight with his own collection at the Gray Gallery, opened by the cousins mere steps from the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
In addition to designing the space, Chahan assembled artisans in varied métiers, with marquee names showcased alongside newbies as well as vintage furnishings, jewelry, and watches. Vram Minassian's collection, Vram for Gray, keeps company with silver, lacquer, and light fixtures in mirror and Venetian glass. Unique are the mix of elements and the way that Chahan collaborates with his stable. He and each artisan develop particular pieces together, to be executed in a limited edition solely for the gallery. It's not a case of pick-and-choose from objects already made.
He reconstructed the 1940's building, most recently a Nancy Corzine fabric showroom, both inside and out. "After we leased the property, Chahan spent four solid days there, designing it," Vram Minassian recalls. The result is a cabinet of curiosities-in fact, the cousins were originally thinking of naming it the Boîte des Curiosités. And it would look equally at home on the Left Bank, near Chahan's studio and gallery. There's a sumptuous mix of fixtures, textures, and materials defying categorization in any one style or era.
Limestone pervades-as window frames, including the storefront, and as flooring. Eel skin, another favorite, covers walls. An oval inset of subtly striped taupe carpet creates a central staging area, where a sparkling glass chandelier and elliptical vitrines in gray-stained maple offset a Paul Evans table and chairs that Chahan describes as "slightly brutalist and sculptural." The presence of totemlike Evans shelving along the sidewalls hints at Chahan's obsession with this mid-century American designer. "I've been collecting Evans for 15 years," he says. In fact, the Evans pieces are the only ones not for sale.
Well, the muscular sculpture dominating the back wall isn't exactly for sale either, but Chahan and ceramist Peter Lane will work with clients on commissioned iterations. Lane created the 10-foot-high, 26-foot-wide original-in glazed ceramic that might be mistaken for Evans's enameled steel-specifically for the 2,000-square-foot gallery. (Only toward the end of the three-month fabrication process did Lane learn that he was meant to incorporate something as pragmatic as two jewelry-display cases.) Other Lane pieces are "pure" art, such as a honeycomb table sculpture also found in the Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris. "I first saw Peter's sculpture at a friend's house in New York the day before my flight back home," Chahan recalls. "The next morning, I went to his studio. It was around the time I opened my Paris gallery, and I offered to do a show for him in three months' time." And voilà, as they say.
To the left of Lane's wall sculpture, in a rear corner, doors swing open to a VIP salon for Vram Minassian's dearest jewels. How about a 16 ½-carat bright-green garnet or a 25-carat purple sapphire? VIPs can survey choices laid out on a glass tabletop supported by a tree trunk stained. . .what else? Gray Gallery gray.
Photography by Art Gray.
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