With 100 Artworks on Display, This New York Loft Takes Wall Real Estate Seriously
You could call it kismet, the way collecting led Ilan Cohen to this apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “When I started, back in 2009, I would buy any contemporary work that I saw,” says Cohen, who works in finance. “But over time I created my own eye and my own taste.” Upon his discovery of the practice of queer artist TM Davy, his collection evolved, ultimately becoming fodder for a 2012 group show, co-curated with 1969 Gallery’s Quang Bao, thematically focused on The Picture of Dorian Gray. The exhibition opened on Oscar Wilde’s birthday and brought a number of new relationships with emerging talent into Cohen’s life.
Creating a space that reflected this personal history—and provided ample room to nurture and expand on it—fell to Noam Dvir and Daniel Rauchwerger, founders of the architecture and interiors studio BoND. They’d first worked with Cohen on his modernist beach house on Fire Island, New York, and while this space lacked such a specific architectural identity, it did give the firm the chance to articulate a more nuanced approach to living with art. “The singular material of wood, the minimal, sculptural nature of furniture in the room—together, these types of considerations informed our overall layout,” Rauchwerger says.
Cohen had lived in another unit at the same address in the early 2000s and was “very familiar” with the bones of the building. He brought Dvir and Rauchwerger along on his initial viewing for their first impressions. “But I knew it was the right fit as soon as we walked in,” he says.
When work on the project began in late 2021, the simple rectangular form of the main living area was obscured. Dvir and Rauchwerger sought to reorient the apartment around natural light, with a secondary goal of integrating functional elements in a way that wouldn’t take away “wall real estate” from Cohen’s art collection.
Turning to Donald Judd for inspiration, the firm achieved this by creating built-in pieces, using a restrained material and color palette, and keeping all furniture 36 inches tall or under. “This kept the eye level completely open,” Rauchwerger says. Cohen, who was 41 at the time he started collecting, goes through several permutations when placing works. “At first I had everything on the floor, laid out like a jigsaw puzzle,” he says. “In my experience, the fourth or fifth iteration usually sticks."
Styled by Anthony Amiano.
This story originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
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