Ethan Cook’s Home Is Just as Vibrant as His Artwork

Freda A. Nix

Throughout the Brooklyn neighborhood of Clinton Hill, there are pockets of wonderful 19th-century American architecture. Artist Ethan Cook and designer Wray Serna live on one such block in an 1892 building recently renovated by D+DS Architects. “They did a really good job with the renovations,” says Ethan. “We liked the high ceilings, the moldings, and all of the original touches.” D+DS used passive house techniques throughout the building in order to reduce each apartment’s carbon footprint.

<div class="caption"> In the dining area, <a href="https://fave.co/2R9T7O6" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:an Eero Saarinen Tulip Table" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">an Eero Saarinen Tulip Table</a> is surrounded by a set of <a href="https://fave.co/39Hk1TZ" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hans Wegner chairs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hans Wegner chairs</a>, and is topped by a Gaetano Pesce vase found in Rome. Missing no opportunity to display art, the couple opted for a <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/yves-behar-samsung-frame-tv?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Samsung Frame TV" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Samsung Frame TV</a>, where they have projected a work by Richard Prince. Above that hangs a painting by French artist <a href="https://www.artsy.net/artist/bernard-piffaretti-1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bernard Piffaretti" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bernard Piffaretti</a> from <a href="https://www.galeriefrankelbaz.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Galerie Frank Elbaz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Galerie Frank Elbaz</a> in Paris. </div>

Moving into this blank-slate apartment provided Ethan and Wray the opportunity to fill it with their collection of art, design, and family heirlooms. Ethan started collecting art a few years ago and now has many pieces from friends or from trades with other artists. “I love having art and I love living with art,” he says. Other people’s art, that is. There are only two of his pieces in the front room—a bronze hawk sculpture and a large-scale handwoven canvas—at the request of Serna, who often hangs out there.

<div class="caption"> Ethan and Wray inherited the neutral-toned sofa from the architects, and it is joined by a wooden armchair by the <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/the-story-behind-the-campana-brothers-iconic-stuffed-animal-chair-design?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Campana Brothers (right)" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Campana Brothers (right)</a>. A large vase by Brooklyn-based artist/designer <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/katie-stouts-debut-at-r-and-co?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Katie Stout" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Katie Stout</a> sits atop a vintage table. </div>
Ethan and Wray inherited the neutral-toned sofa from the architects, and it is joined by a wooden armchair by the Campana Brothers (right). A large vase by Brooklyn-based artist/designer Katie Stout sits atop a vintage table.

Ethan is known for what have been described as “woven paintings,” and his work is abstract and full of unexpected color combinations. “I wanted to take the painting out of painting and put the color into the fabric, which led me to making the canvas,” he explains. “My work is about exploring the flatness and physicality of the canvas.”

<div class="caption"> Another work by Katie Stout, the Angel Lamp, is displayed next to <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/we-all-need-childlike-design-right-now?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Faye Toogood" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Faye Toogood</a>’s <a href="https://fave.co/2yzKwhn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Roly Poly chair for Driade" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Roly Poly chair for Driade</a> with a pillow by Japanese artist <a href="https://store.moma.org/prints-artists/artist-products/murakami-flower-plush/146567-146567.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Takashi Murakami" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Takashi Murakami</a>. </div>
<div class="caption"> A 1987 armchair by <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/at-79-design-legend-gaetano-pesce-still-has-work-to-do?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Gaetano Pesce" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Gaetano Pesce</a> for <a href="https://www.cassina.com/en/collection/sofas-and-armchairs/357-feltri" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cassina" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cassina</a> sits below a knife artwork by <a href="https://www.artsy.net/artist/al-freeman" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Al Freeman" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Al Freeman</a> from Brussels gallery <a href="http://www.sorrywereclosed.com/en/expositions/presentation/109/al-freeman-loup-sarion" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Sorry We’re Closed" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Sorry We’re Closed</a>. Ethan’s bronze hawk sculpture and candelabras by <a href="http://www.driade.com/en/candelabri-e-portacandele-simon" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Borek Sipek for Driade" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Borek Sipek for Driade</a> top the mantel. The couple’s rescue dogs, Bishkin and Fizzgig, lounge on a bed by <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/inside-ellen-van-dusens-pattern-happy-brooklyn-brownstone?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dusen Dusen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dusen Dusen</a> below. The concrete piece above the mantel, titled <em>Betoni</em>, is by German artist <a href="https://www.artsy.net/artist/imi-knoebel" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Imi Knoebel" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Imi Knoebel</a>. </div>

In addition to works of art, there are also notable design pieces scattered around the home. “The design is just fun stuff,” says Ethan. “I don’t take it too seriously.” Regarding their array of contemporary and modernist designs, Wray adds: “We wanted to bring some color into the home and I wanted the Faye Toogood chair.”

<div class="caption"> Even the kitchen is packed with art by <a href="http://www.jbbernadet.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jean-Baptiste Bernadet" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jean-Baptiste Bernadet</a> (painting), <a href="https://www.artsy.net/artist/imi-knoebel" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Imi Knoebel" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Imi Knoebel</a> (wall sculpture), and <a href="http://loupsarion.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Loup Sarion" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Loup Sarion</a> (nose sculpture). </div>

Though they are very comfortable in their new apartment, both Ethan and Wray commute to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where they have studios. Ethan is beginning to incorporate painting back into his artwork (“which I haven’t done in 10 years!”), and Wray owns an eponymous clothing line where she uses vibrant artist-based prints. The two creatives have a strong sense of color, which is clear in both their work and in the design of their personal space.

<div class="caption"> Design pieces even made their way into the bathroom! Little nesting tables by <a href="https://www.wright20.com/auctions/2019/07/the-amusing-style-selections-from-the-collection-of-pavel-zoubok-and-paul-a-baglio-jr/130" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Gaetano Pesce" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Gaetano Pesce</a> sit beside the tub, and a new work by Ethan hangs above the sink. </div>
Design pieces even made their way into the bathroom! Little nesting tables by Gaetano Pesce sit beside the tub, and a new work by Ethan hangs above the sink.
<div class="caption"> In the bedroom, a painting by <a href="http://www.anncraven.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ann Craven" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ann Craven</a> hangs above architect <a href="https://fave.co/34fdnDm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mario Botta’s Shogun lamp" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mario Botta’s Shogun lamp</a>. The totem candle is by <a href="https://fave.co/3dURsFG" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lex Pott for HAY" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lex Pott for HAY</a>. </div>

When they’re not in Brooklyn, Ethan and Wray are working on their other home in the Catskills, which they chose because of its complete silence. “No internet, no noise, no cars,” Ethan explains, who adds that because he is from a small town in Texas, he loves “robust silence.”

<div class="caption"> Ethan and Wray pose among some of their favorite pieces. The yellow bird painting is by artist <a href="http://www.anncraven.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ann Craven." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ann Craven.</a> </div>
Ethan and Wray pose among some of their favorite pieces. The yellow bird painting is by artist Ann Craven.

🛠 Do It Yourself

Surround yourself with things you love Ethan and Wray were able to incorporate pieces created by family members into the design scheme of their home, which adds a very personal touch.

Start with a neutral background to make your decor and artwork pop Keeping the walls white allowed the couple’s colorful pieces to stand out even more.

<div class="caption"> Above the <a href="https://fave.co/2R8PasY" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller cabinet" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller cabinet</a> are two works by Brooklyn-based artist <a href="https://landonmetz.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Landon Metz" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Landon Metz</a> and an <a href="https://www.memphis-milano.com/products/tahiti" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ettore Sottsass Tahiti lamp." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ettore Sottsass Tahiti lamp.</a> </div>

Craft a home bar worthy of display Ethan and Wray collected interesting glassware and accessories that were good enough to leave out alongside liquor bottles.

Don’t get too matchy-matchy Placing one chair here and another there somewhat randomly makes for a more interesting arrangement and way of living with art and design.

<div class="caption"> On the wall is probably—according to Ethan—the best work in his collection, a small painting by German artist <a href="http://www.artnet.com/artists/imi-knoebel/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Imi Knoebel" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Imi Knoebel</a> from his Anima Mundi series. A <a href="https://fave.co/39FDVP9" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Toio floor lamp" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Toio floor lamp</a> by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos stands nearby. </div>
On the wall is probably—according to Ethan—the best work in his collection, a small painting by German artist Imi Knoebel from his Anima Mundi series. A Toio floor lamp by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos stands nearby.
<div class="caption"> The snake table, which Ethan won at an auction, is by American woodworker and artist <a href="http://www.gkb-furniture.com/home.php" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Garry Knox Bennett" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Garry Knox Bennett</a>. </div>
The snake table, which Ethan won at an auction, is by American woodworker and artist Garry Knox Bennett.

🛍 Shop It Out

Medusa vase by Gaetano Pesce, $510, artemest.com.

The Frame smart TV by Samsung, from $999, samsung.com.

Max-Beam table by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba for Kartell, $316, 2modern.com.

Roly Poly armchair by Faye Toogood for Driade, $685, 1stdibs.com.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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