November 20, 2013
Vanessa Traina, The Line & The Apartment
We got a private tour of this Soho sanctuary
Sitting pretty on Greene Street is The Apartment—the almost entirely shop-able brick-and-mortar translation of Vanessa Traina and Morgan and Kate Wendelborn’s e-tail concept, The Line. It was with a little hesitation that we stepped out of the elevator into the apartment. Wait, are we on the wrong floor? Is actually this someone’s home? The loft is fitted out as though someone—someone with exquisite taste—has been living there all along: There are photos and postcards lining the mantelpiece, loose change carelessly thrown into a bowl, rare photo books stacked neatly along the hallway, and even an unmade bed. Adjacent to the bedroom is the walk-in wardrobe, filled with a small collection of womenswear labels, including Kate’s first collection of Protagonist. In a word, the space, its contents, and its proprietors are chic. Like kids in a candy store, we darted around the space shooting questions at whoever could answer. Morgan soon came to our rescue and gave us this guided tour. We’ll be hanging out with all three belles again soon, but for now, enjoy this super-special Room Anatomy!
Morgan, we’re DYING. This space is so effortlessly yet meticulosity fitted out. Do you have a background in interior design? Or is all this really the product of having really good taste?
I definitely don’t have a background in interior design! It has all stemmed from my work as a stylist, style director, and merchandiser. I worked with our project manager and architect to program the space.
At first, I was a little reluctant, but I soon loved [working with the space] and I can’t wait to do it again! It’s fun to hear reactions from people—which pieces they like. This will help us move forward and plan for the next evolution.
How has your work in fashion informed what you’ve done here at The Apartment?
I think it was really about editing. The first drawings of the space had a lot of rooms in it (like a library and a study) but the more we sat in the space, the more we realized that this was a quintessential loft—we needed to see the light streaming from the front to the back of the space. Less was more.
Three weeks before The Apartment was opened, we left a corner empty and pinned up pictures of furniture that we had on our wish list. As we got closer to the launch, we asked ourselves, What is the least amount of stuff we need to make this work?
Kind of like Coco Chanel’s theory that before you leave the house you should look in the mirror and take off at least one accessory…
Exactly! So I think that was my greatest influence—pairing things back. We’re lucky that we’re able to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Have you sat on the couch yet? It’s amazing, it was custom-made for us…
Oh my goodness, it’s incredible!
I know! You wouldn’t think that it would be this comfortable! Las Venus made it.
I love the blue [upholstery].
I know, it’s so rich in the light. Vanessa has it in brown. The search for a couch was really difficult. I knew we needed to start with this piece and the rest would come. Scale was something we really had to think about. The woman who lives on the fifth floor came down to visit us while we were still designing the space—she’s been here since the ’70s—and she would ask how we were going, and so forth. I asked her a lot of questions about the light and scale of the lofts and she said, “Oh, after a few years you’ll get it right” and I thought, I don’t have that long! I only have a month!
This mirror is having a moment right now. It’s massive!
Isn’t it great? This glass is from Capitol Glass and then we partnered with Liz from G/K Framing down in Tribeca. I don’t think people realize how much of an art framing is! We had to choose a frame that would be able to stand up to the scale of the room and we wanted something kind of Baroque but not overly gilded. Liz knows everything there is to know about framing. And you would think that picking out a frame is so simple but it’s not.
Oh totally, framing is an art form in itself! We’re always curious as to how people pick their frames, we had the same questions for Andrea Mary Marshall last week!
Over there by the window is a plaster cast chair from Jonathan Burden. I call it my Julius Caeser chair. It’s actually quite comfortable—which is why I put it by the window.
What about the playing cards and the little pill boxes on the coffee table? How did they come into place?
It was about collecting all the moments that help us tell stories, like the Euros in the bowl over there, that make the space feel like a home and less like a store.
There are lots of little stories behind everything in the space. Like, there’s a photo of my mother over there on the shelf by the kitchen table, which was taken while she was in high school. People ask, “Is everything for sale?” and I say, “everything but the photo of my mother!” These vintage ashtrays are from Vanessa’s collection. The little silver wishbones are for sale.
The glass lights over table are by Lasvit–which have also been made to order. I originally found an image of it on Tumblr. To me, it epitomized our brand—it’s simple and paired back but has this complexity to it. They’re glass silhouettes of chandeliers from famous opera houses around the world. We started with just an image of the Prague opera house chandelier and our buyer tracked them all down. It’s still amazing to me to see them all here in the space.
The lamps are from Hadassa, an antiques dealer uptown. They’ve been in business forever and they’re just like the nicest guys—it’s a very comfortable place. The owner has told me all these amazing stories, like the times Michael Jackson used to come in.
The bird print wasn’t even a part of our plan. Sarah, who runs our operations, was obsessed with the image so we tracked it down.
The Flag Chair by Hans Wegner [in the bedroom] was one of the first items that went on our mood board. It’s just such a well-designed item.
Wow, this painting of a horse’s legs looks like an photograph, super life-like!
Kate painted it! She started it and then got to a point where she stopped. She’s an amazing artist.
Photography by Lianna Tarantin
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