Welcome to Moonlighting, a new Curbed column in which the talented Raina Cox of If the Lamp Shade Fits takes a look at design players whose first job may not have been design. Some triumph, some flop, and some should never, ever give up their day job.
For rocker Lenny Kravitz, collaboration isn't limited to the recording studio. Since the late '90s, the musician has been buying and renovating properties around the globe with the help of well-known architects and interior designers. Kravitz's process is famously symbiotic, with the line where his input begins and the professional's work ends often blurred. Frequent project partner designer (and Diddy's personal decorator) Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz once told the New York Times that "[Kravitz] knows styles and proportions and color."
Kravitz has always found harmony in music and decor, explaining, "I had the regular kid room your mother makes for you with the nice shelves and everything is nice and matchy. Then I started listening to Hendrix and Kiss and Led Zeppelin." Proper rock god worship mandated constant redecoration—"I would always move things to give me the right ambiance to listen to music."
Kravitz's first large-scale project was a traditional Biscane Bay, Fla., manse he dubbed Villa Roxie after his mother, actress Roxie Roker. The outcome was a decorating discord between Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz's clean, contemporary classicism and the rocker's love of a louche 1970s look. Later, a more successful collaboration with architect-designer Michael Czysz on a Miami Beach ranch house resulted in a design mind-meld of epic proportions—a shagadelic synthesis of Hugh Hefner's early Playboy clubs and the film A Clockwork Orange.
In 2005, this multi-hyphenate officially added "designer" to his resume with the formation of Kravitz Design. No longer limited to his own real estate portfolio, Kravitz could now unleash his decorating prowess on the world. "[Interior design] was something I did on the side, in between albums and tours," he said. "But how many houses can I buy and sell? How many times can I change one house that I've lived in? I want to do interiors, furniture. I want to do architecture, although I'm not an architect. Nor am I a trained interior designer."
For his house, a 215-year-old Creole cottage in New Orleans, Kravitz channeled a look he coined Bordello Modern. With a cacophony of influences, including classic French forms, Baroque prints, animal skins and foil wallpaper, the musician managed to create a very expensive version of Z Gallerie's signature look. The place was listed for $775K in Oct. 2010.
Kravitz also laid claim to the initial work done on his penthouse in NYC even though Noriega-Ortiz had a hand in the design. The apartment languished on the market for years before Kravitz brought Noriega-Ortiz back to freshen it up. After a literal whitewash, the home sold within a few months to singer Alicia Keys.
Other Kravitz Design work has included two commercial projects in Miami Beach: a recording studio for the Setai Hotel and the Florida Room piano lounge at The Delano. The rocker has also dabbled in product design with a chandelier for Swarovski and a collection of psychedelic wallpapers for Flavor Paper. Have a look at selects from his portfolio here:
· Kravitz Design [official site]
· But What I Really want to Do is Design [NYT]
· Houses of Hip-Hop Powerhouses: Kanye, Diddy, Pharrell, More! [Curbed National]
· Lenny Kravitz Lists Creole Cottage in the Big Easy [The Real Estalker]
· BLOCKBUSTER: Lenny Kravitz's Interior Renovation Revealed! [Curbed NY]
· Crossover Alert [Entertainment Weekly]
· A Peek into Lenny Kravitz's Sick Miami Home [Apartment Therapy]
· Casino Royale chandelier [Swarovski Crystal Palace]
· Tropicalismo wallpaper collection [Flavor Paper]
· My Real Estate Fantasy [If the Lamp Shade Fits]
· If the Lamp Shade Fits [Official site]