Great interior design is anything but static – it morphs with the ever-changing needs of the inhabitant/s. It is the exploration of space and the quest to fuse comfort, utility, and aesthetic. Our homes can be the greatest expression of who we are.
Imagine the home of the unconventional artist. (Is there really any other kind?) Surely a space that can inspire is a must-have, but that is largely of the artist’s own making, not a requirement of the structure itself. A true artist understands the importance of the relationship of placement, as arrangement is its own art form. The painter creates strokes on a canvas, the director blocks a scene upon the stage, the writer weaves a storyline throughout the a novel, and so on. Bruce Danbrot was an eccentric, a designer, an artist, and collector of artful things. Peculiar, pretty things that struck his fancy, and that once placed in his apartment became part of a collective symmetry of other peculiar pretty things.
It’s safe to say that Bruce knew what he liked and what worked. Harvey Keitel once described his good friend and ex-roommate, Bruce, as a “true artist“. Bruce saw spaces as a blank slate for artistic arrangement and possessed an appreciation for a vast array of design movements from the late nineteenth century’s art nouveau to 1960’s Mod. He even had a tie collection of 1940 art deco patterns. He was, as well, a fine artist in his own right, frequently painting his muse, ex-wife Margaret Danbrot, and embellishing and recreating found objects such as toy chests or antique headboards for his young daughter’s bedroom. His weekends were spent antiquing or picking over flea markets, while his weekdays were spent as the Design Director for such Hearst publications as Good Housekeeping Magazine, McCall’s, and Ladies Home Journal. Back then in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, rubber cement and exacto knives were the tools of the trade so meticulous placement of copy and image were a hand-made endeavor.
Lisa Danbrot, Bruce’s only child, describes her dad as a unique character who fostered an awareness of design and eclecticism in her. “He had a phenomenal talent for putting unexpected shit together.” Juxtaposing such pieces as an oil painting of a classical female hugging a grecian urn in a gilt baroque frame with an original poster from the musical Hair, with a carved wooden sculpture of an Indonesian Eagle God, Garuda, purchased at the Brooklyn museum gift shop in 1973, a first peek inside Bruce’s apartment on the 12th floor of The Copley Plaza, a pre-war building in Prospect Heights Brooklyn, often inspired a “Whoa…!” from Lisa‘s childhood friends. While she understood his brilliance through their eyes, it was the backdrop of her life and therefore somewhat invisible.
Lisa herself is haunted by the interior spaces of her childhood and is a self proclaimed obsessive with regards to placement of objects in a space. She has the ability to recognize design in much the same way her father did. While she continued in her father’s’ lineage of creativity, her artistic pursuits took her in a different direction; a graduate of the iconic High School of the Performing Arts, she studied dance at the American School of Ballet, and went on to attend the Maryland Institute College of of Art, and Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Professionally she served as the Managing Editor of zingmagazine, an international curatorial arts publication, and mixed with the likes of John McEnroe and Leonard Nimoy who were regular collectors at the NYC art galleries she worked at in the ’90’s and early millennium.
Paradoxically, Lisa is not the primary decorator, designer or placer of objects in her home. Having moved to Maplewood with her family and two sons in 2011, she is a Real Estate Agent and Yoga teacher (each career is an offshoot of familial and personal lineages as well) she leaves the interior fetishizing to her designer/artist husband, Eric. Eric too is the consummate creator – a painter, an installation artist, a chef, and a musician who shares many of the same gifts of instinctive creativity as Bruce, though in different categories of art and with a more minimalist bent.
Eric’s artistic statements often take the simplest of forms. Eric’s Books–their placement and arrangement as a design element, were the inspiration for this piece. Old or new, paperback or hardcover – books can create a a unique interior vignette. Of course the most obvious of which is the pile on the coffee table, but what about as a pedestal for a vase or an extra seat when company shows up? About the books placed, or stacked, creating columns of visual interest and providing depth to the interior experience of their home, Eric says: “It’s not really an aesthetic thing, just spill over really…I don’t know, we don’t have enough book shelves. That’s kind of it really. I weeded out a huge number of books when we moved from Brooklyn…just kept the ones that were special kind of, you know?”