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Home Design 2002: Graphic Arts

Blue-chip Eames and wildly colored, quirky art give Robin Osler's Chelsea loft a definitively personal touch.

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"One of the things I always liked about having the family furniture is that it has the patina of my family's life on it. There's an element of intimacy to the things that we own."

Architect Robin Elmslie Osler (who runs her own firm, EOA) comes by her design talents, as well as her modern furniture, naturally. Her great-uncle was Prairie School architect George Elmslie, her grandfather Emil Lorch founded the architecture school at the University of Michigan, and her parents filled their home with Knoll and Herman Miller furniture. In the 2,300-square-foot Chelsea loft she shares with her husband, Bruce Matthews, and dogs Uta and Dagmar, Osler has mixed these now-vintage heirlooms with bigger, bolder contemporary art, much of it made by friends from her school days -- entirely appropriate in a neighborhood so dominated by galleries that Osler's favorite local coffee stop is the Dia Center.

Osler's City Guide
visual aid: "My favorite museum is moma 11 W. 53rd St.; 212-708-9400. We used to get their catalogues when I was growing up in Michigan, so when I moved to New York, I had to become a member. The Drawing Center in SoHo 35 Wooster St.; 212-219-2166 also does great shows. For art supplies, Pearl Paint 308 Canal St.; 212-431-7932 is fabulous, and so is Industrial Plastic Supply 309 Canal St.; 212-226-2010; they have this great insect screen that I laminate between glass or use as a room divider. For architecture books: Urban Center 457 Madison Ave., at 51st St.; 212-935-3960."

personal styling: "Ann Demeulemeester at Barneys New York; 600 Madison Ave., at 61st St.; 212-826-8900. The clothes are modern without being over-designed -- she's sort of a Belgian rocker chick. It's not the Jil Sander that a lot of female architects wear."

at the bar: "The bar at The Four Seasons in the Seagram Building 99 E. 52nd St.; 212-754-9494. My parents took me there when I was in fifth grade, and it made an impression. We also go to Bongo 299 Tenth Ave., near 27th St.; 212-947-3654, which is owned by friends."

eating out: "Bottino 246 Tenth Ave., near 24th St.; 212-206-6766 -- it feels like home."Coffee and pastries: "The Dia Center 548 W. 22nd St.; 212-989-5566. You can go up on the roof -- unfortunately, you can't bring dogs. On Sundays, we go to La Bergamote 169 Ninth Ave., near 20th St.; 212-627-9010 for pastries."

daily routine: "When you have dogs, you see a lot of the neighborhood. We go to the pier in the morning because the dogs can be off-leash before 9 a.m. There's also a dog run at the end of 23rd Street."

Above: The furniture may be pedigreed, but the rugs aren't: There are four, all from Ikea (1000 Center Drive, Elizabeth, N.J.; 908-289-4488). The Florence Knoll sofa and chairs, along with the Eames bent-wood screen, rear, are from her parents. Osler bought the two Eames fiberglass chairs at a junk store for $10 each. The blue painting is a scene of medieval Cologne by Steve Keene, a friend from college. The teak coffee table, center, is a Scandinavian piece from the sixties. Osler painted it red years ago -- an impulse she now regrets.

Right: The tub, an antique her husband bought on the Bowery, was handpainted by another artist friend, Lowell Boyers. The stool is a flea-market find, but the robe, right, is actually a Versace couture dress that Osler bought years ago.


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