Standing on the second floor of his Brooklyn Heights duplex, interior designer Glenn Gissler points to a yellow gouache painting half hidden behind a lamp. The piece by Donald Baechler is the first of many artworks that Gissler acquired in the simpler days of 1986 by dishing out $100 per month over a seven-month period.
The painting shows an obvious pentimento, a masking of the artist’s initial work for a different end. In a way, the technique speaks to Gissler’s practice in design, where he plays with removing objects from their original context in order to make them seem timeless.
In Gissler’s two-bedroom duplex, this manifests in pots that date back to 3,000 B.C.E. placed alongside an unplugged Space Age-era Ericofon, both passing equally as sculpture. Mixing objects like this for everyday life "puts us in a humbler context in the human continuum," Gissler says.
Gissler’s home is full of fascinating objects, often accompanied by incredible stories. One such object is a framed Keith Haring poster, given to Gissler by the artist himself in the summer of 1982 during a protest for nuclear disarmament, now remembered as one of New York’s largest rallies of all time.
Now, the poster is perched adjacent to Gissler’s dining table, which is decked out in a Kuba cloth and topped with a set of black basalt 19th-century Wedgewood pots. The dominance of that table betrays the designer’s penchant for throwing dinner parties. He says he’s hosted upwards of 14, and a quick tour through his cabinets reveals the dinnerware to prove it.
The apartment went above and beyond Gissler’s wish list when he was looking to move from Greenwich Village five years ago. He was after something spacious but affordable and close to transportation; all traits that accompanied the Brooklyn Heights duplex. The beamed ceilings in the master bedroom reminded Gissler of a Parisian atelier; the deck off of the master bedroom and wood-burning living area fireplace were bonuses. The most important aspect was the second bedroom, where his teenage daughter can reign on her own floor when she visits.
Gissler is a self-professed eBay and auction addict, saying he's gathered some 3,000 objects between the two over the last 40 years. Some of those pieces he's sold to clients, others have ended up in his home. But no matter their origin, all of the pieces come together in a harmonious way in the apartment. "When you go to someone's home in New York it's really personal," Gissler says. "Everyone's apartment says so much about who they are, where they are in their life, and what's important to them."