Anthony Sperduti’s Art-Filled Hamptons Hideaway
If you’ve ever thought a brand was actually cool, there’s a good chance Anthony Sperduti was the brains behind it. Sleepy Jones, Warby Parker, Harry’s, Shinola, J. Crew’s Liquor Store moment — Sperduti, along with his partner-in-crime Andy Spade, either invented or helped launch each of those brand experiences as creative directors and founders of Partners & Spade. But of course to talk about Partners & Spade as a mere branding agency is to ignore the whole reason people have trusted the studio’s opinion so implicitly from the start: For more than half a decade, Partners & Spade was headquartered in a storefront space on Great Jones Street — shop in the front, studio in the back — that became a quirky, beloved calling card for the original P&S experience. The store could best be described as a repository for ephemera, often hosting small exhibitions of things like old gloves that had been run over by trucks or barnacle-encrusted goggles and watches, salvaged from the sea by a badass bodysurfer. In other words, the store became a place to put all the stuff that Sperduti and Spade and so many of their friends had collected over the years.
The storefront closed in 2014 as Partners & Spade grew up, evolved, and moved into swankier digs on Lafayette Street. But I was happy to see its spirit alive and well when I walked into Anthony Sperduti’s Sag Harbor cottage for the first in an editorial series we’re doing with SONOS on the homes of some of New York’s most interesting — and influential — creatives. Sperduti’s weekend Hamptons house, tucked away in a quiet corner on the Sag Harbor Bay, is our favorite kind of home — the perfect mix of vintage and contemporary art and objects, each with a fascinating story behind its acquisition. When asked what it is about collecting that to appeals to him, Sperduti mused: “I think that because I grew up around none of this, as I started to fall in love with design, collecting and curating was something I found a really fun challenge.”
Another fun challenge: translating the strange alchemy of brands into a physical space, which is exactly what Sperduti has done with the first-ever SONOS flagship, opening on Greene Street in New York next week. We recently spent a lazy Saturday with him, chatting about songs, serendipity, and the stuff that surrounds him.
PHOTOS BY BRIAN W. FERRY
So how exactly did you find this amazing house in the middle of nowhere?
I was brought here by a friend of a friend 15 years ago, and I borrowed the previous owner’s kayak. I went right to the bay and kayaked around, and then didn’t see the house again for another 15 years. When I started to look for a place out here, I came across the listing online, and it happened to be the second house I saw. I was like, ‘I think I’ve been here before. Is this guy a DP?’ I remember loving it the first time I walked in, and I was just like ‘Okay, this is cornily cliché meant to be,’ so I just gave him the asking price.
I’ve been coming out to different parts of Long Island for years, but besides that one time I’d never been to this part, which is kind of tucked away. I love it, because you can avoid all the corny people in the Hamptons, and you can stay on the water and in the house and not see a person for two days. It’s beautiful. The wetlands are right there and the water’s just beyond. It’s blocked in, and the wind coming off the water — it’s just good to be up here.
What was the house like when you found it?
It was all white, and the layout was pretty good. One of the reasons I was happy with it is because it’s not big, but it has a lot of bedrooms. It’s an old charming fisherman’s house from the ’40s that this guy I bought it from had built on piece by piece. It almost feels like a boat. It kind of rambles, and it’s got a nice small scale to it. But everything interior design–wise, I did — the paint, the ceilings, the furniture, the art.
The biggest thing is the wallpaper, which is by Naomi Clark of Fort Makers. I came across her when we first opened up Partners & Spade, and we tried to use them for a J. Crew thing a long, long time ago. And whenever I’d come across her stuff, I’d be like oh yeah, I love her work, how painterly it is. She did these really beautiful green expressionistic tablecloths that we bought for the Boerum store, and I was like that would be a cool wallpaper. But we tried turning them into wallpaper, and it was terrible. So for three or four months, every few weeks, we would meet. She would send me stuff, and then we kept honing it down until we got these really basic little shapes.
It’s perfect. How about the yellow fridge, is that you?
The fridge is me. That was a whole project finding someone to powder coat stainless-steel panels on a fridge, but sometimes the details are what make things, right? (Laughs)
Is yellow your color, or did it just work here?
You know, when I moved into the house, the guy had randomly painted his doors yellow, and I was like, well, that’s a nice thing for a kitchen. We’ll roll with that. Then, I found the Bertazzoni Italian stove, which happened to be yellow, so that kind of started the motif, as it were. My house in New York that I’m doing right now — it’ll be ready in a few months — is a much different aesthetic than this. But for a house at the beach, it should feel like you can walk in with wet feet and spill a beer.
Last weekend we had everyone from my agency out here for the night. There were 30 of us. A couple of people got really drunk, and then we all put a blow-up mattresses on the floor, and everyone kind of crashed, and it was a total sleep-away camp. It was really fun. To me, the house out here has to be able to do that. I didn’t really want to “design” it. I wanted to fill it with things that I like.
Let’s talk a little bit, then, about collecting and how you acquire those objects you love. You’ve been doing it for so many years — how do you decide what you’re going to use for a job and what you’re going to keep? Do you even do that for work anymore or is everything much more high-concept these days?
The first four or five years of our studio was a lot of collecting, but when we moved our offices out of the storefront, there was less of that and it just became personal. For collecting now, there are a lot of great websites. Like Artsy and Paddle8 — I’ve bought a bunch of stuff off of those guys. Live Auctioneers is great. When I come out here in the wintertime, I sit at my laptop and just for the fun of it I’ll put low bids on things that I like. That’s how I got all three of these over here (above). I call this corner ‘Evil Spirits.’ All three of these things came from Live Auctioneers. That photo was 200 bucks. The mask was $300. Would I want this crazy weird cyclops mask for $800? Maybe not. But a couple hundred bucks, sure. Most of the time, you don’t win, but every once in a while you do.
It’s fun going down those rabbit holes, because you’re leafing through hundreds and hundreds of pages of different auctions, and all of a sudden, you get an email saying ‘You’re the winner!’ It’s like I fucking forgot I bid on that cyclops head. But it’s fun. My house in New York will be the opposite. It will be very organized. But for here, it felt right to have layers of things. The more I live in the house, the more I let friends stay over — people are always dropping things off, or giving me gifts. That accumulation of stuff is fun.
What do you like collecting the best? Furniture, objects, or art?
I’m a photography addict, so I love collecting photography. This house doesn’t have a bunch, but my place in New York has all of my real photography that I’ve been collecting over the years. I’ve actually purposely stopped myself from collecting any more photography. In my old apartment, every square inch was just covered. Like what am I doing? It’s truly like an addiction.
Can you take me through some of your favorite pieces? What’s the big photograph in the living room?
We were working on a project with a client, and I ended up buying a print from the photographer himself, this guy Jim Mangan. I want to say that’s a golden eagle. Either he’s a hawk or a golden eagle, I can’t remember. I just love the light quality; it makes it feel almost like a painting or a drawing more than a photograph. The idea in this room is different interpretations of nature.
And how about the Raymond Pettibon drawing?
Chris Gentile from Pilgrim Surf Supply randomly figured out that Raymond Pettibon was a surfer and was like, ‘Hey, would you ever want to do a book signing at my place out in Amagansett?’ Raymond was like yeah. One of my friends got him to sign it to me. The first week I got the house, I was coming out with friends and we were like, this place needs a name so it has a hashtag — so you can look back through all the fun photos. And it was a great idea, because now I have all these summers documented on Instagram. So the name is Chateau Salty Pants.
But what’s funny is because we are a branding agency, things are now branded. There’s the Chateau Salty Pants mugs, and there’s embarrassingly a bunch of other things that have this logo on them, like the matchbooks. So, he had Raymond sign it to Anthony, Chateau Salty Pants.
That’s so cute. I thought maybe he had come to a party here, like he loved it so much, he was like hey. I left you something.
What’s cool is people do that. That’s what’s fun about a house like this. You just start accumulating shit. But that’s also why my New York house is going to be pristine and austere.
Is that also because New York is kind of a headache?
No, you know my old apartment in New York was like this. Our store on Great Jones was like this. It’s fun, but aesthetically, I’m up for a new vibe. In the New York apartment every piece of furniture is designed for the space, and I took my time. If this is my house for the next ten years, I want to have the perfect one thing. It’ll be fun.
How much contemporary design do you collect? I see the Bec Brittain SHY light and those cool Italian ceramic vases.
In the New York apartment, it’s going to be all new design. There’s going to be nothing that’s vintage in the new place. But Bec, for sure. I’ve always loved her work. I’ve always wanted to finagle one of Adam Silverman’s pieces, so I bought that one summer. The color and texture is just so nice. I can’t remember who did the blue and white vase but —
That’s Cassie Griffin, I think.
Is it? I might have even found it off of your website, to be honest. And then the little heads (below) are from Creative Growth. They have a studio in Oakland that hosts 60 to 70 people with severe autism. They give them a craft, and they sell those crafts. Autism is the type of thing where when they have a craft, or they’re taught something, and they get down their own little rabbit hole, their quality of life is infinitely better. And there’s a way for them to make money and support themselves in some kind of fashion. So, it’s an amazing program.
What’s the story behind the surf fin (above)?
We did a surf show with Quiksilver at our old store, and Mark Cunningham is this legendary lifeguard and bodysurfer in Hawaii. He’s saved hundreds of people, but he’s a badass bodysurfer. He’s maybe in his 50’s or 60’s, and one of his hobbies is collecting calcified things that have – I don’t know if calcified is the right word – but basically saltified things that have fallen in the water. We had a show of his. He brought thousands of watches that were all salted up, thousands of goggles and glasses. Things you typically lose in the ocean. Lighters, watches, and I’m talking bins and bins of these things. Surf fins he finds like a dime a dozen, so he uses them as business cards. So, when you meet the dude, he’s just like, ‘Oh, we should just keep in touch,’ and he hands you this as a business card.
The only other thing in this room, and the thing that is probably the most important is these photos I took at the end of last summer of my friends and their kids. I took them out at the end of the day out in Montauk in August. There’s an age when kids are still innocent, right before they hit puberty. Like this year, these girls look totally different than they did last year. But anyway we all hang out every summer, I had all of Friday off, I was like meet me in the afternoon. I was shooting on a Mamiya, and it wasn’t working — the winding of the film was like there was something kind of stripped. So, I couldn’t tell if it was advancing the film. So, I shot three rolls of film, and I was like, I either got this, or I’ve got nothing. I’m not sure. Luckily, I got it.
They were just starting to get self-conscious here, but they were still goofing around and putting mud on their face. I know for a fact this summer I couldn’t get these with them.
This photo in the bathroom I took we were doing a job in Capri, and this dude, it was December, and it was like, cold. But this dude was just walking around barefoot with like Speedo. I asked my friends. They were like, ‘Dude can I please take a picture?’ And he’s like, ‘Are they making fun of me.’ We’re like, ‘No dude. You’ve just got great fucking style.’
And you’re tan as hell in December. Let’s change gears and talk about work. We’ve touched on Partners & Spade’s retail roots, but not about what the agency has evolved into now that you basically do work for everyone.
When we started, we didn’t have any clients, so starting with something physical like a storefront where we could be our own clients and have a calling card was important. You guys started, you were able to have a blog, and you could put out your point of view. For us, we wanted to do it physically. Ultimately, I’ve grown up kind of working for clients and building brands. I’ve been doing that for 20 or so years. The end goal was always to work with the clients we wanted to work with.
It hit a point, four or five years into it, where we didn’t have room for the store anymore. My employees were really bummed; they were crammed into these desks but then we’ve got a table full of curated items that no one’s buying. It had kind of run its course. Also, it’s like, I love collecting but I’m going to do it for myself. I don’t need to do it as a public-facing thing. That’s basically what changed, and then we grew up and got a proper office that actually has a conference room with a door. A receptionist who actually greets clients when they walk in.
But we’re still small on purpose. Andy has decided to focus on the fashion brands that he owns and we own together, and then I’ve focused on all the client stuff and the studio stuff. We still work with startups and small companies, but then, we work with really large companies too, so that’s been a fun mix. So SONOS was just perfect. It’s kind of right in the middle. It’s 10 years old. It behaves like a startup, but it has a legitimacy.
Click on the player above to listen to the SONOS Listening Room podcast, hosted by Jonah Bayer, where Anthony reveals personal soundtrack to New York City. Then visit SONOS’ first-ever flagship at 101 Greene Street in New York starting July 19 for the full SONOS listening experience.
This post was sponsored by SONOS, but all thoughts and editorial content are our own. Like everything at Sight Unseen, our partner content is carefully curated to make sure it’s of the utmost relevance to our readers.