MODERN LUXURY: A DELICATE BALANCE
When a longtime client wanted a more marriage-friendly home, he turned to b+g design – and their special chemistry.
Every home that Brett Sugerman and Giselle Loor design together is really about their marriage. Case in point: When their client’s biggest concern was finding male-female “balance” in his new apartment – now married, he didn’t want a bachelor pad feel – he relied on the affectionately sexy pair. “He was one of my first clients,” Sugerman recalls. “We started working together in 1991.” The client had followed Sugerman’s career and hired b+g to design a house on Venetian Island back in 2001.
The client felt he had gone too masculine in his decor for years, but he was done with that. “He wanted to hand over the reins to Giselle and I,” Sugerman says. The simple directive: “‘Do what you do.’” After that Miami Beach house was complete, the client flipped it and bought a 5,000-square-foot apartment in Aventura. “He’d always had homes that were so male, and he was intrigued by us – he wanted the best of both genders.”
The 18th-floor residence – with its three bedrooms and four and a half baths – enjoys views of the city, the Intracoastal and the ocean. It didn’t have much else to recommend it. Eighteen months of work ensued. One of the companies the client owns is the Hollywood-based Capital Contracting Services, who worked with b+g on the home throughout the renovation. “It was a resale that we gutted and completely reconfigured,” Sugerman explains.
When asked to describe the male influence on the apartment, Sugerman pauses. “Ironically, some of the male aspects come from Giselle and some of the female aspects from me. It’s all about balance,” he says, adding, “you know who wears the pants around here.” Jokes aside, Loor says, “I think that’s what makes us so successful – we both have very strong personalities, but he knows when to back down, and I know when to back down.” The fact that the client needed durability (for visiting grandkids) led to some masculine touches, such as the formidable quarter-cut walnut canopy that shadows the Adler II Table dining room set by Draenert and the porcelain floor. Of the overall look: “It’s very linear, very sculptural,” Loor says. As Sugerman details the room’s other textures – “the dimensional limestone tile and a polished aluminum reveal trim” – it’s clear that the manliness was part of his vision as well.
Slot lighting is integrated into the panel, following the linear theme, yet the reupholstered cantilevered chairs are delicately balanced and seem to float, adding a lightly feminine touch (the barstools, which are also devoid of back legs or supports, convey a similar feminine effect). Holly Hunt’s sturdy Edge chandelier seems testosterone-fueled – until one notices it is suspended by delicate wires. Meanwhile, the kitchen (designed by b+g and fabricated by Giovanni Art) evinces lightness, with its white gloss and spindly-legged dinette chairs and stools. The effect, if not girly or precious, is certainly female – and functional.
Back in the living room, the canopy is meant, as Sugerman says, “to interrelate with the dining room canopy, but without matching.” The effect is both stunning and comforting, as the canopy mimics the dimensions of the custom sectional sofa below. When the pair discussed the ways in which different spaces would read male or female, Loor says that their client settled on the word “warmth.” And this great room is a fine example of that low heat. For the sofa, which was built and upholstered by Grafton Furniture, Loor chose an outdoor Holly Hunt acrylic fabric, again for durability, and again, it’s very manly. Behind the sofa one finds an assertive, custom-made console, manufactured by Giovanni Art from black lacquer and stainless steel. Sugerman calls it “a work of art”- except he uses more colorful language. White window sheers serve to soften some of the hard angles found here. (The white sheers recur in the master bedroom, which is a sanctuary in earth tones – a cream and mocha room punctuated by gold-themed wall art.)
But undisputedly, the standout element in the living room does more than its part to exquisitely balance male and female; roughly 20 carefully curated glass vases dictated the design of the room. Vividly colored, the art glass, set into geometric recessed shelving, adds softness and ornamentation against the monochromatic color palette of the space. The room was planned that way specifically to lend an unassuming backdrop for the prized collection. “This was the main attraction,” Loor explains. “Everything had to be secondary to the art.” When reminded that the vases pop so much that the TV is almost overlooked, Sugerman happily agrees: “It’s a 75-inch TV, and it almost disappears. It’s surrounded by so much strength that it’s hiding in plain sight.” “The TV is almost camouflaged by the art,” Loor concurs. The other art “moments” in the home are delivered by a piece above the family room sofa – of colored dots that seem to echo and defy two-dimensionality – and a vast Chul Hyun Ahn light installation in the foyer (composed of fluorescent tubes and mirrors) that suggests a feeling of infinity.
To Sugerman, “Giselle has an otherworldly ability to understand what our clients want and need, sometimes even before they know it themselves. Her sense of intuition is incredible.” Loor uses the same word to describe her husband’s spatial planning and architectural detailing.
It is about their “thing” after all. Great chemistry. The apartment too.