Aligned Asks:
Glenn Gissler, Interior Designer
Glenn Gissler is one of our favorite designers, for his elegant mix of classic and contemporary elements, his broad, well-informed palette, and his ability to make a space feel pulled together without feeling “decorated.” Glenn’s design practice is the culmination of a lifelong interest in 20th century art, literature, fashion, historic preservation, and architectural history. Here, Aligned has the pleasure of asking Glenn about his art and influences.
AA) How does your training as an architect affect the way you approach interior design?

GG) This is an interesting question. In fact I studied architecture purposely knowing that I wanted to practice interior design.

In my initial forays into the opportunities to study interior design available to me in Wisconsin 30 years ago I found that I wanted more theory and history of big ideas. Additionally I didn’t really recognize the boundaries between architecture an interior design – for me they are really integral to good and enduring design.

With that said, I start every project documenting and analyzing the existing architecture to see what the space is capable of doing. Sometimes by moving a door or removing a wall or creating greater intimacy by closing in a space can truly transform the functional and aesthetic experience of a space.

Living Room of Michael Kors penthouse apartment in Greenwich Village. This is the second apartment that I have designed for Michael. Michael was very clear about the point of view and palette – grey flannel, black leather, rich wood, and classic modern furniture. The room is calm, and open and modern
In the Kitchen in the Kors apartment we used honed black granite for the counters and backsplash, white lacquer for the cabinets and chrome stools with woven leather seats. The net result is graphic simplicity like an Ellsworth Kelly painting.
French Art Deco chairs are paired with a Thebes stool (circa 1900) in this sitting area in a bedroom for art collectors in Greenwich Village. The picture shelves allow for a changing display of their extensive collection of drawings.
AA) How do you make a space reflect its occupant?

GG) I believe that people’s environments are a reflection of the occupants. I have been to so many people’s homes and apartments and each one tells a story about the owners – their personal history, their values, their circumstances, and the degree of order or chaos in their lives. This is important information to include in the development of the design that is specific to them. Often there are things about their environment that they have never really thought about so it then becomes a process of collaboration and education and dialogue to help them to create a project that takes them to a place that they could never get to on their own, but still feels like home.

Interior design at its best is really a form of portraiture of the owners. I personally don’t think that it should be purely a reflection of the designer – then it is just about merchandise and sales. I ask all of my clients where they would like to be in their lives in five years. The answer to this question is in many ways more important to me than what do they wish their Living Room looked like last year.

I have this fantasy that if five different interior designers created the same project for the same clients that the clients themselves would be legible to one degree or another in each project. Sadly however, I don’t think that in reality this would be the case…

AA) How do you make contemporary and classic aesthetics work together so well?

GG) I appreciate the acknowledgment.

I like to create environments that I think of as ‘half full and half empty’. In working towards this goal everything that gets put in contributes to the quiet dialogue that takes place between the objects in the room. I have found that I like objects and art from many eras and places, but in order to create an environment that is appropriate for our time, the objects and art need to be able to breathe. When this balance is achieved the rooms have a calm and elegance that is both reassuring and pleasant.

AA) Your wife is a contemporary art writer and curator. Does that influence the way you showcase art in a person’s home?

GG) We have shared countless art experiences in New York City, in various cities and towns in America and overseas, including many Venice Biennales. It has been a joy to have someone to share these experiences with. We also have a shared passion for printed matter which has manifest itself into a collection of art books that numbers in the thousands. My wife has not been involved in commerce in the art world for 20 years so her interests are more aesthetic and intellectual than market value. We have had lots of dialogue about art, and her suggestions have been valuable when assisting my clients with developing their collections.

AA) Does your having a daughter influence how you design spaces for families?

GG) It has certainly been a learning experience to navigate the world of bright colored plastic in my own home, while still seeking to find a balance with the calm that I strive for in my clients’ homes. And then, once I think I have it figured out, it changes again!

I shouldn’t be surprised, or so I am told, that my daughter has very strong opinions about all things aesthetic at nine years old. She is one of my most challenging ‘clients’! Maybe one day she will take over my business!

Glenn may be contacted at:

Glenn Gissler Design
40 West 29th Street, Suite 404, New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212-228-9880