“Modern stuff I just don’t understand,” fashion designer Adam Lippes says over coffee in the sun-splashed living room of his Brooklyn Heights apartment. “It’s just ugly.” So, defiantly, he surrounds himself with the atmospheric opposite.
A Victorian-style borne settee centers the space like a white-and-blue water lily, and a Russian Empire mahogany bookcase stretches across one wall and nearly to the ceiling. The master bedroom’s main event is a custom-made canopy bed that channels the nutty Chinese Chippendale pagoda daybeds at England’s Stanway House, and Gustavian chairs ring a Biedermeier pedestal dining table. A Kentia palm—an arboreal accent beloved by another boldface fashion designer, namely Christian Dior—sprouts from a ceramic cachepot in the living room, its luxuriance, underscored by lacy wicker furnishings, evoking an old-fashioned jardin d’hiver, albeit one painted the palest shade of pink.
“We chose it for this room and really loved it, and now it’s the majority of the apartment,” Lippes says of the hue, Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster, noting that the silk faille that upholsters the dining room was dyed to match. “It’s pink, but it’s not like it’s pink. It’s got a lot of gray in it, which is nice,” he adds about the paint. “And it turns pink-orange at sunset.”
Friends compare Lippes’s dreamy setup to living like a grandmother, and in his defense he says, “Well, yes, I do, and what’s wrong with that? They live well.” Make that a granny with a twist. Last year, the designer and his partner, Alexander Farnsworth, cofounded Highminded, a purveyor of recreational marijuana products. Its first shop opens this year in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, near the couple’s country place.
Still, Farnsworth, Highminded’s CEO, wonders if the gentility of their domestic sphere needs to be quite so thorough. “Why can’t we just put some big, low sofas in here?” he once asked. “It could happen one day, but not right now,” Lippes observes. “I like that there are all these different areas for people to congregate when we entertain. Someone’s over there chatting, and another group is over here; people are sitting in the bedroom talking.” Or they’re sprawled on the banquettes that ring a tented space that the couple calls the opium den. “Everybody hangs out here,” Lippes says, settling into a supine posture in the golden glow of an Orientalist lantern that he and Farnsworth found on a trip to Tangier.