It should hardly come as any surprise that the home belonging to the head of one of the world's top vendors of modern furniture should have an impressively designed interior, but John Edelman's Connecticut home is more than just a showcase for DWR's many offerings (although it certainly is that). As the executive prepares to sell his family's home (which was featured in CQ in 2012 and is now listed by his sister, Sally Slater, for $3.3 million), he chatted with us about the journey of creating and furnishing the building, which he and his wife did from the ground up, with the help of architect Tasos Kokoris.
"We were inspired for the home by the Amman resort in Turks & Caicos," Edelman says of the house, pool, and guest house, which sit on a 14-acre parcel of a larger plot Edelman's parents (owners of Edelman Leather) bought in 1969. "That whole structure seemed to float, and that's how we wanted our home to feel."
Built into a hill overlooking woods and a pond (to replace the existing structure, which Edelman called "an old shack built with chainsaws and glued together"), the house does have a floating quality, especially when viewed from the pool area, which the family designed to be a mini resort.
"When we go to the pool, it's like we're going to a resort someplace," Edelman says. "We go out in the morning, and we don’t come back all day." And for good reason: Adjacent to the 60-foot pool is a pool house and a state-of-the-art kitchen for entertaining.
The home's natural surroundings are just as important inside, too: The Edelmans designed the home to maximize views. A modern staircase also appears to float above the living room. "Because of the constraints, that's where the staircase had to be, so if we had to live with it, we wanted it to kind of disappear," Edelman explains. "Every part of the house has a beautiful view, and we wanted to not disrupt that."
That's not to say, though, that the interiors were approached with a minimalist attitude—the home boasts a comfortable mix of vintage and contemporary items set against textural backdrops, like grasscloth wallpaper and floor tiles by Edelman Leather. That's all thanks to Edelman's wife, Bonnie, who, he says, is "a very talented photographer, but also a super-talented interior designer," though, he explains, "her only client is us."
Bonnie was largely responsible for the home's design because, as Edelman says, though he "can focus on a piece of furniture, a single piece, I have a very difficult time putting the entire room together. My wife has a way of making things that would seem cold feel warm."
Interestingly enough, most of the furniture in the home didn't come from DWR—even if it might now be sold there—it came from flea markets, which were Edelman's first real introduction to the world of modern furniture.
"When I started at Edelman Leather [after a stint working for his brother, Sam Edelman, in his shoe business], I didn’t know the furniture industry, so I started going to the 26th Street flea market with my wife, while we were just dating," Edelman says. "We fell in love with each other at the flea market, and we fell in love with modern."
Edelman began buying up vintage pieces and reupholstering them in Edelman leathers —including two Milo Baughmann chairs (scored for $15 and $20, respectively) that would eventually reappear in his work. "Cut to 15 years later, I buy DWR and go to the Armory show and buy a chair by Milo Baughmann and start to research him, and I realize that he designed and made those two chairs I had," Edelman recalls. "Then I went to the original factory, which wasn't producing anymore, and I had to bring my chairs for them to reproduce, because they didn’t have any of the original drawings." Now, the chairs are sold through DWR.
It's proof of Edelman's core belief, that modern has no time limit. "My whole thing with modern is that modern goes with everything; that’s why it’s modern," he says. "People say, about DWR, 'oh, you’re the mid-century modern people. But mid-century died in the 20th century; the things that survived are just plain modern. And they go in any interior. The Europeans get it—they're in a 500-year-old farmhouse with Le Corbusier everywhere and Jean Prouvé."
So what's next for the Edelmans now that they're selling their modern paradise? "We're already hard at work" on a new home, Edelman assures. We can't wait to see.
View the property listing here.
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