I’m on my way to Upper East Manhattan to the home of Franklin and Johnny but first I’m meeting Johnny. He is something of a polyglot and speaks French, Spanish and Russian fluently, with a little Dutch and Turkish thrown in, and is currently studying Arabic. I discover he even has a little Swedish up his sleeve, as he texts me ’Jag är nästan där’, I’m almost there, just before we meet up at a cafe around the corner from their apartment. A cafe with the appropriate name of Fika, a Swedish word and phenomenon, meaning coffee break, preferably accompanied by buns or cakes. He is going to guide me to their apartment, snugly tucked away beside a church and quite hard to find.
Franklin is at home and as soon as I get through the door they show me around. For an apartment in New York it’s pretty spacious, around 1000 square feet, and consists of three rooms and a kitchen. But it has only one narrow window at the far end of the living room. However, every room is flooded with daylight via skylights in the ceiling. And every single room is filled to the brim with artwork, antiques, sculptures, paintings, artefacts, books and knick-knacks, tastefully arranged and grouped. The oasis these two collectors have created has a wonderful ambience and I’m eager to begin exploring it.
The light is the most important feature, they agree. “Some days, especially in the summertime, it is so bright indoors that you almost have to wear sunglasses,” Johnny tells me. “We lived in a apartment before this one that had a lot of windows, but it was considerably darker. The light here is amazing”.
“It was a great opportunity,” Franklin says. ”This space was crying out for a remake and as a designer I saw the possibilities it had for us.”
They have lived here for four years now. Before moving in they refurbished the whole place. Sanded the wooden floors and painted them black, using the same colour for the panelling and the mouldings around the doors, and painted all the walls white. They laid bare the transoms above the doors that had been completely hidden and put in the missing glass, making the hallway brighter. And they did all the work themselves.
“How would I describe my interior design style? Well, I’m not driven by any particular style,” Franklin says thoughtfully. “I like anything as long as it’s good design. And it’s not the cost. Because it doesn’t really matter to me if something is cheap or expensive. You could sum up my style in one word. Compositional. The reason I put objects together is because of the composition. And this is constantly changing because I will get hold of something new and I will have to redo everything and make a new arrangement.”
This home is in flux – constantly evolving and changing. New objects are brought in to replace those that were there before, and the compositions shifts. Old heirlooms are mixed with thrift store finds. Nothing is sacred. As long as it pleases, it works.
“One of the reasons why Johnny and I are constantly collecting these things and hanging them up is because our interests continually change and grow. So all of this,” says Franklin and waves his arms, “just documents where our minds are right now. So I would say: ‘Home is a space that reflects who we are’.
This is an excerpt from the book Home Life Around the World and is one of the unique and personal homes I visited.
Release date 15th May.
Home Life Around the World is available for pre-order in iBooks store, Kobo and Google Play. ISBN 978-91-984455-1-0
The book is also available for pre-order in the Kindle format. ASIN: B079VDPBVF
Print edition ISBN 978-91-984455-0-3
Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer