Glossy and edgy, layered and dynamic, designer Nicholas Obeid’s Chelsea home is filled with visual surprises and collected treasures that recall his Syrian heritage.
Living with limited space can be a challenge. But when you have the talent of Nicholas Obeid, who works for American designer Jonathan Adler, restrictions become a source of creativity. Located in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, Obeid has called his 42 sqm studio home since 2015. “My apartment used to be filled with a haphazard collection of whatever I owned,” he says. About a year after moving in, however, the interior designer adopted a more curated approach. “Rather than filling the space, I truly took my time to collect items that spoke to me and reflected my personality.”
As no structural changes could be made to his apartment, he used interior design to convey a sense of high precision and character. Walls were repainted and all the light fixtures replaced by ones Obeid had collected over time, such as a red, perforated metal spider chandelier from a Buenos Aires flea market. “I focused on furnishings that resonate with my graphic style, like the Milo Baughman flat bar chrome lounge chair upholstered in Alexander Girard’s checker,” he says.
Driven by the desire to find the right piece for every nook and cranny, Obeid considers his home to be a never-ending project that, like a gallery, offers the opportunity to house new objects. “While the majority of the pieces are sleek and swanky, such as the Romeo Rega glass and metal table, Sonneman mushroom smoke Lucite lamps, and Jonathan Adler hand-hammered white sheet metal credenza, it was important to layer raw materials with more character and depth,” Obeid says. “That’s the case with the Maurice Chalvignac ceramic lamp with string shade and the rattan cabinet.” The range of furnishings makes the apartment feel curious, sincere, and spirited.
Laid out as a rectangle with the kitchen closed off by louver doors and a short hallway between the closet and bathroom, the studio is designed for entertaining. A Jonathan Adler burl wood and Lucite console and a Saarinen Tulip coffee table base with custom ebonized cerused oak top are arranged at the entrance. A Jonathan Adler sofa with custom tonal cushions in Kravet velvet is placed in the center. A CB2 bed is located near the windows. “The arrangement of furniture serves more as a living space plus a bed, rather than a bedroom plus a sofa,” he says. Dreaming about having more space, Obeid, who is of Syrian heritage, relates this desire and his lifestyle to his origins. “Being Arab is not defined by religion. It is defined by sharing beautiful music and delicious food with your family and friends; it is defined by overwhelming hospitality.”
Inspired by the 1970s, Obeid’s apartment combines vintage pieces, like the giant framed eyes over the doorway, and graphic elements. One shape is predominant throughout the space. “It all started with a square, which became a major source of inspiration,” he says. The mirrors hanging over the studded credenza and the checker cover in front of the Kelly Wearstler chalet fabric drapery illustrate his fascination for the right angle and balanced proportions.
Bathed with natural light, the studio harmoniously divides the three areas of the home through color: burnt orange accents in the entry; gilded and patterned hues in the center; cream and white for the bed. “The black, white, and brown stripes on a vintage set of 1970s mirrors made the strongest style statement and became the anchor for the palette,” Obeid says. “I view everything through the lens of a camera. composition, shapes, and shadows are what matter. I am satisfied when that photo in my head is brought to life. For me, design is about telling stories and creating these beautiful, compelling compositions.”
Sitting on his tonal velvet sofa opposite the glimmering, studded credenza, Obeid is perfectly relaxed. Hanging over the sofa, the abstract canvas with a subtle art deco-inspired pattern was painted by him in only an hour, reminding him and viewers that “style isn’t about a price tag; it’s about a feeling.” Among his most treasured items are the silver worry beads gifted to him after his late father’s final trip to Syria and the Milo Baughman flat bar chrome lounge chair upholstered in Alexander Girard’s iconic checker. “A favorite chair in a favorite fabric,” says Obeid.
Obeid is also influenced by his late aunt, who supported his passion for interior design. He nurtures his creativity though travel and the designers he admires. “Lebanese designer Chahan Minassian’s refined restraint, Kelly Wearstler’s play on scale and proportion, and, of course, Jonathan Adler, who I’ve worked with for more than five years. From his bold gestures to his signature pieces, he taught me to design indulgently, to mix old and new mindfully, and that if you really love it, it works,” says Obeid. “And it’s true, this apartment is a collection of objects that make me feel happy.”
When in New York
View: The Big Apple from the 69th floor of the World Trade Center and take in street art curated in this exhibition space from the likes of Duda and Savior Elmundo. Wtgallery.com
Explore: Art, design, and science in the digital age via the work of Dutch designer Joris Laarman, like the Bone Chair generated from algorithms that mimic bone growth. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum until January 15. Cooperhewitt.org
Listen: To sound waves and radio frequencies that are part of immersive installations at the Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound exhibition, where artists explore how sound is made material. Museum of Arts and Design until February 25. Madmuseum.org