This Lavish Bel Air Abode In Los Angeles Is An Art Lover's Dream

BY Ayesha Sohail Shehmir Shaikh / Oct 15 2019 / 16:45 PM

Turkey-born founder of the eponymous Nebihe Cihan Studio walks us through the private treasure trove of design and art housed inside a lavish Bel Air abode in Los Angeles

This Lavish Bel Air Abode In Los Angeles Is An Art Lover's Dream
Photography by Matt Harrington
The living room of the Bel Air residence with Ocean Memories marble bench, designed by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur; L.N.A Coffee Table; Aspre Lounge Chairs; Autan Chaise and Nagato Side Table by Liaigre

Situated on the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in California’s exclusive residential enclave of Bel Air, Los Angeles, is a 12,600 square foot property made to be a destination home for the modern art collector. Boasting a main house and a guest house, the space has been designed by the illustrious London-based Nebihe Cihan Studio over a period of one year, reflecting the surrounding nature and the client’s love for art.

“My goal was to create the ultimate California destination home imbued with a Mediterranean feel,” says Nebihe Cihan, founder of Nebihe Cihan Studio. The private residence marks the first project the studio has worked on in California.

Media room. Shelter Armchair; Bronze Trepied Side Table by Christian Liaigre; Groundpiece Coffee Table by Flexform; Artwork by Kim Hong Joo (Untitled, acrylic on canvas), Kukje Gallery; Artwork by Joyce Pensato (What’s Up Mickey, charcoal and pastel on paper), Lisson Gallery; Bespoke wall cladding by Effearredi; Circuit 1 sconces by Apparatus

Photography by Matt Harrington

Before the establishment of the interior design firm in 2016, Cihan lived in the United States for several years, graduating with a degree in interior design from the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York City. Having worked for Michael Kors and French fashion house Catherine Malandrino as the senior designer for store design and development globally, she grasped the power of design early on. “What really inspired me was seeing how the environment around us changes the way we think and behave,” she says.

“When I was at Michael Kors, certain store layouts and designs changed the shopping habits and preferences of our customers which showed me how important architecture and design was.” Throughout her notable career, Cihan has worked on retail and high-end residential projects across Paris, London and the Upper East Side in New York.

8 Stack Sculpture by Annie Morris, Alex Eagle Studio; two artworks by Ugo Rondinone courtesy of Lisson Gallery; an artwork (right) entitled Wind with in one by Waqas Khan courtesy of Galerie Krinzinger

Photography by Matt Harrington

The Bel Air residence is dotted with art works and design objects throughout, a testament to the owner’s extensive travels and longstanding affiliation with the global art scene. “My objective for this project was to seamlessly marry the Californian heritage with the Italian and French influence in a way that was inextricably intertwined,” says Cihan.

Cihan joined hands with Italian craftsmen to create custom cladding throughout the opulent home, sourcing organic materials from stone yards in Italy which have been used to design buildings in Milan for decades, such as travertino venatino and ceppo lombardo. “I chose modern Italian fittings to mirror the modern exterior of the house,” she says. “I prefer to use classic materials that will never go out of fashion and are timeless.” He customised the home’s wood cladding using a wire brushing technique that is prevalent in Italy.

“The pores of the travertine are filled with black stucco and left dry in the stone yard in Italy,” she shares. “This rare backdrop works in unison with the clean lines of the French furnishings from Liaigre, whose furniture dominates the interiors of the house creating a look that is ‘style without being stylish’.”

The dining room featuring the Malte Table; Infante dining chairs by Liaigre; artwork by Christopher LeBrun (There 2017, oil on canvas) courtesy of Lisson Gallery; Bronz Sculpture by Pedro Reyes (Protester IV 2017) courtesy of Lisson Gallery; Bespoke Travertino Venatino fireplace cladding by Effearredi; Carpet by Sahrai Milano

Photography by Matt Harrington

When the designer first encountered the property, “I was completely mesmerised by the panoramic views,” she expresses. “However, I felt that the interiors were disconnected from the architecture and as a result, it just felt chaotic.” And so Cihan ventured on the project with the vision to create unity between the outside and inside.

“I wanted to find a harmony between the internal and external juxtaposition and I used the palette to enhance this.” Boasting a sophisticated indoor-outdoor aesthetic, a rarity in California, the main house of the property comprises seven bedrooms, two open kitchens and one main kitchen. The lower ground is devoted to a lounge, bar, spa and gym area. “I would say I designed it to be a comfortable hotel,” she smiles.

Powder room. Bespoke Ceppo Lombardo cladding by Effearredi; Bespoke wood cladding by Effearredi; Concrete wash basin by Kast; Basin tap by Watermark

Photography by Matt Harrington

The entrance, which resembles a hotel lobby, features 8 stack, a sculpture by British artist Annie Morris, a stunning silver plated brass neon light by Milan-based architect Vincenzo De Cotiis, which was sourced from New York-based Carpenters Workshop Gallery and a Phocee Table by Liaigre. Ocean Memories, a marble bench designed by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur graces the intersection between the outside and inside of the living room, manifesting a seamless fusion of the exterior and the interior.

The dining area is adorned with a beautiful bronze sculpture by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, sourced from Lisson Gallery and an oil on canvas painting entitled There by British artist Christopher LeBrun made in 2017. Complementing the décor of the dining room, the white, semi-open kitchen by Bulthaup houses two large paintings by Swiss artist Ugo Randinone. The walls of the foyer are adorned with bespoke wood cladding by Effearredi and at the periphery, visitors will find Eclipse, a neon artwork by French artist Laurent Grasso from New York-based Sean Kelly Gallery.

Kitchen by Bulthaup; ‛Ocean Memories’ marble bench by Mathieu Lehanneur, Carpenters Workshop Gallery; Don Juan Sofa, Aspre Lounge Chairs, L.N.A Coffee Table; Luzin Side Table; Calebasse Table; Lamp by Liaigre; Artwork by Christopher LeBrun (There 2017, oil on canvas), Lisson Gallery

Photography by Matt Harrington

“I cannot think of a California venture without a piece of neon artwork, it was needed,” exclaims Cihan. “There is a careful juxtaposition between the upstairs and downstairs, which enables the client to seek refuge and entertain in the evening in the lounge.”

Downstairs by the opening of the media room hangs What’s Up Mickey, a work by the late American painter Joyce Pensato while over at the lounge, suspended from the wall unit amidst bespoke wall panelling, is the Aquamarine Murano Glass Necklace sculpture by Paris-based artist Jean Michele Othoniel. In collaboration with the client, Cihan sourced the works from galleries around the world including Kukje Gallery in Seoul and Lisson Gallery in London - a testament to the owner’s love of collecting art since a young age.

“He is always cognisant of upcoming successful artists and the trends,” says Cihan, of the owner. “Interestingly, his taste in interiors are minimal and reserved, compared to his taste in art. His artwork collection varies and he is open to slightly more daring pieces, whereas his choice in interiors is more conservative.”

The office. Artwork by Candida Hofer (Dictums, ink on paper), Sean Kelly Gallery; Bespoke wall unit by Effearredi; Tassel 1 sconces by Apparatus; Corvette Desk, Hector Armchair by Liaigre; Executive chair by Polrano Frau; Sisal Rug by Liaigre; Wallpaper by Phillip Jeffries

Photography by Matt Harrington

The minimalist designs of the bedrooms, which resemble hotel suites, are inspired by the client’s love for travel while the neutral colour palette echoes the surrounding views and natural light.

“I kept the palette very light and airy on the ground floor which is saturated with sunlight, selecting light European oak finishing in all of the bedrooms while the bedrooms on the lower ground floor have darker wood as they’re not exposed to direct sunlight,” says Cihan. “Each bedroom is custom designed by Nebihe Cihan Studio, crafted in Italy by fine Italian millwork and features bespoke rugs made in Nepal with different materials incorporated throughout, exploring texture and tone.”

The simplistic lamps, side tables and dining chairs seen throughout the space are by French brand Liaigre. “I was drawn to the understated and minimalistic style of their designs, which is exactly what I envisioned for this project,” she says. “This created a sophisticated and chic setting throughout the house, whilst not detracting from the artwork. To preserve the Californian influence, I chose a lighter palette and used lots of linen fabric throughout.”
Cihan adds, “whether it is a retail or a residential project, I strive to make my designs both functional and timeless - good design should age well and not feel outdated.”

From the fall 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors