The Next Mid-Century

It feels like 1984: Evan Lobel's living and dining room, with Angelo Donghia dining chairs and a Charles Hollis Jones glass-and-Lucite dining table. The sofa, from Christian Liaigre, is new but consistent with the period's sleek, low, luxe aesthetic.Photo: David Allee

Looking back at the pop landscape of the early eighties can provoke pangs of dread. Running shoes on working women? Asymmetrical haircuts and eyeliner on men? Black Pirelli tile on the floor, gray carpet on the wall, neon color splashes on everything?

Stay calm. The mid-century revival didn’t mean resuscitating poodle skirts and the Technicolor palette, and there’s good design lurking beneath all that mousse. After many prestigious furniture companies went under or slashed quality in the mid-seventies recession, some of the best design went private. Designers-cum-decorators including New Yorkers Karl Springer and Angelo Donghia and Californians Charles Hollis Jones and Michael Taylor (widely acknowledged as the man who popularized the pillow-denting styling flourish that became known as “the chop”) routinely had lavish work custom-made for clients. Twenty-five years later, there’s a lode of interesting, beautifully crafted pieces still awaiting a wide audience.

Just as the mid-modern revival was fueled by enthusiastic dealers like Mark McDonald, circa-1980 design has the New York furniture dealer Evan Lobel squarely in its gold-plated corner. “I love the late seventies and eighties,” says Lobel. He’s even writing a book on Springer, his favorite designer, who’s best known for cladding simple but dramatic pieces of furniture in sharkskin and python. Subtle they’re not. “There’s a certain decadence to that era that I find really appealing. The scale tends to be large, and the materials tend to be luxe and rich, which makes the pieces themselves larger than life.”

And if his new Bond Street store doesn’t make the moment’s appeal clear, Lobel’s splashy Union Square apartment does. Outfitted with white granite floors, beige-draped windows and walls, and enough track lighting to melt a glacier, the apartment is the perfect place to showcase the oversize, Chablis-and-brie-fueled extremes of which Lobel is so enamored. The sum total is that rare thing—a very polished bachelor’s apartment, harking back to a time before mixing became the predominant aesthetic and done was not a four-letter word. The centerpiece is a massive Christian Liaigre sofa, ornamented with two giant Missoni-esque pillows, meticulously chopped. It’s the perfect place to sit and contemplate the meteorlike chunk of chrysocolla, one of Lobel’s favorite possessions.

He takes the eighties commitment only so far, though (no razor-blade marks on the massive coffee table). Lobel’s primary vice is thoroughly contemporary. “I’m a workaholic,” he says. “I just want someplace fantastic to come home to.”

A chrysocolla formation from Astro Gallery sits atop an eighties travertine coffee table from Pace Collection. A flat-screen TV slides out from a cabinet hidden to the right of the travertine fireplace. Photo: David Allee
Left, in a sitting area, a pair of fifties Dunbar chairs flank a coffee table of smoked glass, brass, and gunmetal by Karl Springer, near Lobel's eccentric collection of twentieth-century Italian art glass. Right, Lobel's sleek bachelor closet, includes a Karl Springer python-framed mirror. Photo: David Allee
The bedroom, with Frette linens from ABC Carpet & Home, is lined with wall-to-wall drapes, a favorite eighties-decorator touch.Photo: David Allee
Left, a painting by David Leventhal hangs above a lacquer cabinet by Tommi Parzinger for Parzinger Originals from the sixties. The handblown vases are by Giorgio Ferro for AVEM. Right, a stainless-steel ladder gives access (and a bit of ornament) to a wall of Arclinea kitchen cabinetry. Photo: David Allee
The apartment's late-seventies-luxury interior architecture was done by Lobel's close friend Greg Sharp, who was responsible for the white-granite floors, track lighting, and the pièce de résistance: the massive wood-veneered central cylinder that houses Lobel's walk-in closet (it peeks out at the end of the hallway). In the entry way is a serigraph by James Rosenquist. The guest bathroom, right, features massive African slate tiles and a teak sink. Photo: David Allee
In the kitchen, with cabinetry by Arclinea, is an iridescent-tile backsplash. At the Corian-topped counter sit four Lucite and white-ultrasuede bar stools from the eighties. The mounted skull is a blesbok, an African antelope.Photo: David Allee
The Next Mid-Century