Cultured Magazine

Summer 2013

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A Natural Fit The Brooklyn-based interior design firm ASH brings its signature aesthetic across the bridge—and a few state lines. BY TALI JAFFE Ari Heckman (standing) and Will Cooper; a detail from a West Village apartment and a Chelsea piedà-terre designed by ASH. While staging projects for a real estate developer, Ari Heckman had an "a ha" moment, noticing an unfulfilled niche for design and development. So, like any industrious twenty-something, he and a former colleague, Jonathan Minkoff, launched their own development company. Soon after, in 2008, a second company was born to meet more of the design demands. "It seemed only natural as projects began to develop to merge the two worlds," he says, of establishing ASH. We sat down with Heckman and creative director Will Cooper in their Williamsburg office, which has grown to 11 team members (all under 30), to discuss Joseph Dirand, pocket parks and Brooklyn beige. How did staging develop into interior decorating? Clients began to ask for more design services. We were being hired at the beginning of a project to select finishes, fixtures, furniture, etc. It became a lifestyle that clients wanted us to create for them. How do you incorporate vintage pieces into contemporary settings? Neither of us went to school for design. We always feel that a space should not feel overly calculated or decorated. Hence, bringing in vintage and antiques to any space we are working in. One of our favorite designers is Joseph Dirand out of Paris. His interior architecture and design are pure, simple and exquisite. He creates the perfect balance between the simplicity of his spaces and a warmth that comes from natural materials, fine antiques and art. Some of our other favorites are Robert Stilin, Rose Uniacke and Pierre Yovanovitch. What do you think of the popularization of the "Brooklyn aesthetic"? I think we have this conversation as least once a day. We like to call it the "beige period." The country was coming out of a time after September 11 and the economy was in the tank and design somewhat followed suit. It was as if overnight everyone across the globe was installing Edison bulbs and 52 CULTURED stripping back their worlds to exposed brick and steel beams. Our design style tends to mix many periods and aesthetics. It is important to create classic and memorable spaces that a client can enjoy and live with for the rest of their lives. It helps to invest in pieces of furniture and art that the client not only loves but have historical precedence. Which contemporary designers turn you on? There are so many: Max Eicke, Christian Liaigre, Gareth Neal, Bae Sehwa. What's your favorite interior space in New York? Cooper: The Guggenheim is definitely my favorite. The curves of the interior ramp and circular skylight are a design marvel. Heckman: The Top of the Standard is probably the most memorable interior space that's been created in the City in the last few years. I love the Morgan Library addition by Renzo Piano. Anything that seamlessly marries the old and the new is beautiful and exciting to me. Favorite outdoor space? Heckman: West Village pocket parks like Abingdon Square. And, the tiny streets: Gay Street, Commerce Street and Macdougal Alley. They weren't designed spaces, just the byproduct of good and pure urbanism.

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