Hailed as a wunderkind when he burst onto the design scene a decade ago, Ryan Korban has won praise for his unique blend of urban cool and Old World elegance. He draws inspiration from such eclectic sources as Claude Monet and Helmut Newton, and his clientele includes everyone from Balenciaga to Kanye West. Here, Korban chats with Elliman magazine about his new book, Ryan Korban Interiors, and his first condominium project—40 Bleecker, in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood.
—By Kathy Passero
What prompted you to write your new book?
I did my first book in my twenties. Now that I’m in my thirties it felt like the right time for my second book. It’s a great way to pause and celebrate the projects I’ve done, then move on to the next chapter of my career.
What did you learn?
I was much more of a maximalist. As I progressed, I became more of a minimalist. I think that came from my work with developments as well as retail brands such as Balenciaga and Aquazzura. With those sorts of projects, you’re more focused on edited spaces and architecture. This book focuses less on furnishings and more on the idea of environments.
What is your signature style?
I strive for pared-down luxury. My work has become much more edited, which was a response to the whole eclectic home thing. The idea of mixing all the eras had run its course for me, and it was time to start over. I did that with my work in retail spaces. It became less about bringing objects together and more about using materials that I love to guide the design of the space. That became a huge part of my work. Projects like 40 Bleecker and the Balenciaga stores are a study in material, not in decoration or furnishings. A lot of what we did in those spaces— and in this book—was to design everything ourselves and work with artisans and craftsmen.
Let’s talk about 40 Bleecker.
Real estate was always a world I wanted to explore. I wanted to do something spectacular and different, and I feel like we’ve done that with this project.
Everything in 40 Bleecker was custom designed. It was custom fabric, whether it was designed by me or was a collaboration with an artisan or fabricator. That’s integral to what I do. I would start with a material I loved and ask, “How can we fabricate it in ways you haven’t seen before?” A good example is the marble sofas at 40 Bleecker, which are a focal point in the lobbies and in the book. Rather than suede upholstery, we did suede-paneled walls. Instead of poured terrazzo floors, we used inlaid pieces of custom terrazzo in marble floors to create a graphic look.
I use a lot of gray. I call it the new neutral. 40 Bleecker was a study in that. We used all kinds of shades of gray, showing that things don’t have to be beige or white to be chic and inviting.
What are you working on now?
I’m really excited to be launching my first furniture line this spring—Ryan Korban for EJ Victor. We’ll start with furniture, then introduce lighting, a rug line, and more. We’re hoping to introduce a new category each season.