Step Inside Object & Thing, An Intimate Art Exhibit at the 1955 Home Gerald Luss Built for Himself
The new Object & Thing exhibition, created in collaboration with Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DM at the Gerald Luss House in Ossining, New York, opened on May 7. Since then, I’ve basically treated it like the design equivalent of the Mare of Easttown finale, trying to shield myself from spoilers on social media until I could visit in person last Friday. And yet, when I got there, I realized that this was a relatively pointless task: No image can replicate the feeling of stillness that comes from being inside a house that’s as well-considered as the Luss House, and no Instagram tour can capture all the details that make this particular collaboration so satisfying. For those who can’t make it in person, though, we’ll try our best here!
Luss, a midcentury architect still practicing today, is best known for his interiors for the Time-Life Building — and, in turn, as the inspiration for the sets on Mad Men. In 1952, he bought five acres sited on a hillside in Ossining for $5,000, and over the next three years, he built a house there for himself and his family. Luss told Interior Design magazine: “After the war, many materials had been developed to replace those used in the war, such as laminated wood and Flexicore slabs, which were never used in residential structures. It struck me that they were perfect. I called manufacturers and told them what I was trying to achieve; they gave me unbelievable price concessions because they thought I might introduce concepts they’d profit from over the years.” The result is a flat-roofed, cantilevered, glass-enclosed structure built along a post-and-beam grid, its interior filled with pops of color a friend likened to the muted palette of a pediatrician’s office. Favorite details included a bank of vertical, multicolored cabinets in the kitchen; bathrooms tiled in baby blue tiles, or tiny pink mosaics; beautiful glass-and-wood casework lining one wall of the living room; and the storage cabinets in every bedroom that were built half inside and half outside the building, so that from the yard, you saw a neat row of boxes popping out along the rear wall. An oculus above the winding central staircase turns the entrance hall into a dramatic sundial.
For the exhibition, all of the regular furniture was removed, save for a few things Luss designed himself. (The house is now on its third owner, who remains in close touch with Luss, while Luss lives in the famed Dakota building in Manhattan.) Green River Project created new furnishings especially for the exhibition, including a raw aluminum dining set in the breakfast area, an aluminum and leather lounge chair in the sunken living room, and brushed aluminum and bamboo sconces lining the hallway. For the most part, the artworks that were brought in seemed as if they had always been meant to be there, from a piecework fabric panel by Kiva Motnyk, made from silks, linens, and naturally dyed remnants covering one window of the main bedroom, to a walnut Alma Allen stool in the guest bath to a tiny green-painted panel by Kishio Suga, providing a pop of color in the kitchen. The virtual visit here is worth a look, but otherwise scroll through for some of our favorite moments, which we’ll be sharing on Instagram later today as well.
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL BIONDO