Deep Focus: Dramatic Apartments in Manhattan
George Nunno’s Loft is located in the epicenter of New York’s Meatpacking District, a throbbing enclave of nightlife, luxury shopping, and hotels. But the home, which faces an interior courtyard, feels a world apart. It is a dark and sexy oasis where black is the predominant color, the noise of the city is muffled, and every detail—from the low-slung velvet sofas to the vintage furnishings and art (including an entire set of Warhol camouflage prints)—is part of a considered whole.
There are hints of exotica, too, like the living room’s vintage leather rhinoceros, and nature-inspired decorative pieces, such as the bedroom’s geode lamps. These elements coexist with such collectors’ prizes as a Harry Bertoia bronze bush sculpture, a Karl Springer bronze-and-glass cocktail table, and a Maison Jansen console table.
In the living area of George Nunno’s Manhattan loft, which he designed with architect Betty Rexrode, the custom sofa by Flair is upholstered in a Holly Hunt velvet, the 1950s armchairs are Italian, and the cocktail table is by Karl Springer; the Andy Warhol prints were found at Christie’s, the bronze lamp bases are by Alberto Giacometti, and the curtains are of a Dedar linen.
If the overall effect conjures the sultry glamour of the Rive Gauche circa 1975, this is no accident. Nunno, who is a co-owner of Flair Home Collection, a New York interior design store, is a devotee of the louche brand of luxury that characterized 1970s European interiors. “To me, the design of that period was excessive and dangerous and sexy,” Nunno says. “It was anti-minimal. And I think it’s coming back again, because people have been so good for so long that now they want to be hedonistic again.”
Nunno in his apartment.
Flair got its start in Italy, which is where Nunno and his business partner, Jon Maroto, first discovered it. In the early 2000s, they were fashion executives working for the brand Coach and making regular trips to Florence to oversee the production of leather handbags and clothing. One day they wandered into the Florence shop (there are now two additional Flair stores, in Rome and Milan, as well as the one in New York) and became entranced by the intriguing mix of contemporary and vintage furniture. “It felt like a family’s house,” Nunno says, “that had been collected over the years—where not everything matches, but it works because it has been put together with love and an interesting eye.”
A vintage Venini light fixture hangs above a 1970s marble dining table by Angelo Mangiarotti; the custom-made chairs are from Flair, the painting is by Cleve Gray, and the rug is a vintage Beni Ourain.
They visited Flair on every trip and became friends with the owners. One night over dinner, Flair’s partners proposed that the two Americans open a branch in New York City. “We had consumed a couple of bottles of wine,” says Nunno, “but it went from a joke to a real idea that took off.”
In the kitchen, the custom cabinetry is ebonized oak topped with Nero Marquina marble, the Milo Baughman barstools were found on eBay, and the iron sculpture is a Paris flea market find; the range is by Jade, the refrigerator is by Sub-Zero, and the sink fittings are by Kohler.
In 2008, Flair debuted in New York’s SoHo—unfortunate timing given the impending global recession. But he and Maroto persevered and the shop, which offers design services along with Murano chandeliers, contemporary and vintage furniture, and chic decorative accessories, began to thrive.
The living area’s ebonized-wood wall panels, with inserts of a Dedar fabric, are custom made, as is the steel-and-bronze fireplace surround.
For Reed Krakoff, who was Nunno’s boss at Coach, what sets his former employee apart is his holistic approach to interiors. “Today’s rooms are about the curated space where everything is recognizable,” Krakoff says. “But like the interior designers of the 1970s, George is more after a mood and a point of view. He has a strong sense of color, proportion, and order, and for him, everything from the curtains to the upholstery is essential to the overall design.
Line Vautrin mirrors hang above a 1950s desk by Roger Thibier in the master bedroom; the chair is by Claude Lalanne, and the rug is by Martin Patrick Evan.
After he opened Flair, Nunno—who was already living in his loft with his partner, John Ciuffo, a pharmacist—couldn’t resist putting his design ideas into practice at home. The architect Betty Rexrode, who had worked on the store, was brought in to help with the renovation. She raised all the door heights, designed an elegant black marble kitchen, and collaborated with Nunno on the living room’s clever storage wall, with its fabric inlay panels with brass trim, and a custom steel-and-bronze fireplace by the metal artisan Gabrielle Shelton. “I had been looking at 1970s apartments in Paris, and they always had elements that were both built-in and decorative,” Nunno says. “That morphed into the idea of working with a craftsman to make something for the loft.”
In the dressing area, a 1940s French chest holds a sculpture by Diego Giacometti and a lamp inspired by his work.
Nunno admits that running a design store can be an occupational hazard, especially for a perfectionist who is constantly striving for design nirvana. When a beautiful piece arrives in the shop, he sometimes can’t resist taking it home. “It would be easy for our home to become a revolving door of furniture, so I had to put a stop to that and lock down what this apartment would be,” he says. “For a while, anyway.”
In the master bedroom, the bed, upholstered in a Kravet flannel, and the bench are custom made, the linens are by Sleep Studio, and the lamps are by Michael Laut; the artwork above the bed is by Martin Cary Horowitz, and the painting is by Ilya Bolotowsky.
In Nunno’s loft, every inch has been mulled over and thoroughly planned—from the dramatic ebony entry hall to the eclectic living room, which features a large black goatskin rug and classic Alberto Giacometti bronze lamps. Indeed, it’s impossible to imagine the space any other way. Even Nunno’s former mentor is impressed. “The 1970s were a deeply personal period when interiors were more provocative and sensual,” Krakoff explains. “George is channeling the next generation of that while making it his own.”
The walls and floor in the master bath are sheathed in marble, the tub is by Zuma, and the fittings are by AFNY.