House Tour: Display of Affection
Collector Brooke Kanter taps designer Oliver M. Furth for a family home that’s a work of art
“I’ve always been involved with art and artists,” says Brooke Kanter. “I wanted to live artfully as well.” So in 2010, when she and her husband, Adam, a talent agent at Paradigm, found a 1970s-era open-plan Beverly Hills house with post-and-beam architecture, soaring 25-foot paneled ceilings and a sprawling blueprint, she recognized it as a canvas ripe with potential.
Even before they moved in, Kanter tapped her longtime friend and onetime intern—the two first worked together at Christie’s in the ’90s—interior designer Oliver M. Furth for the project. Furth’s deep roots in L.A.’s decorative arts world (he is chair emeritus of LACMA’s Decorative Arts and Design Council, for one) proved the ultimate complement. “He would come at me with the idea of furniture being art,” she says. “And he just started educating me.”
The founder of K.A.M.P. (Kids’ Art Museum Project, an annual fundraising event to benefit family arts programs at the UCLA Hammer Museum) and co-founder of Marky (a monthly subscription program that delivers curated, child-friendly art projects), Kanter is a prolific collector, with holdings spanning works by Sterling Ruby, Marilyn Minter and Elliott Hundley.
Furth’s mission was to create an inviting, authentic family home (the couple has two daughters: Cleo, 15, and Hannah, 17) in harmony with the aforementioned modern masterpieces. “The way it looked was tertiary to all of that,” he says. The entryway sets the tone, greeting visitors with paintings including Hernan Bas’ large-scale, loose-brushwork-heavy Birds Suddenly Appear; a pop-of-purple Victoria and Albert chair by Ron Arad; and, often, the family’s West Highland white terrier, Izzy. Move to the living room, and you’ll find a voluminous space judiciously populated with furniture in the style of Jean Royère and a mosaic-topped Vladimir Kagan table Kanter found at auction, while in the packed den, a Paul Evans table, a Hans Wegner chair and Charlotte Perriand stools frame a gallery wall brimming with pieces by Mark Bradford, Takashi Murakami and Edgar Arceneaux. “There are books everywhere, there are sculptures everywhere, there are objects from their travels, there’s art that the kids made—everything is a thing, and every thing holds a lot of memories,” says Furth.
Contrary to the going trend, the Kanters use and highly value their dining room, hosting all manner of family functions, Shabbat dinners and casual gatherings there. It was the first space Furth tackled; he hung a substantial Richard Misrach photograph as a focal point, and topped a Paul Evans base with a commissioned slab of gray walnut for the one-of-a-kind dining table, around which a set of reupholstered Milo Baughman chairs accommodates an ever-fluctuating guest list. “I didn’t want to buy everything the finest or the best,” insists Kanter. “But I felt like things had to be special.”
Knowing his client to be a modernist and a minimalist (“I pretty much only wear black,” Kanter confirms), Furth snuck in color, he says, “through the side door”—at times quite literally. “Oliver’s first thing was: ‘We’re painting your doors blue.’ And I remember second-guessing it, and calling him and saying, ‘Is this crazy? Am I crazy?’” Kanter says, adopting a self-deprecating, mock-hysterical tone. “And I love the blue doors. It adds to the richness and makes the house feel warmer; for us, it’s important to have a home where everyone’s comfortable and nothing’s too formal,” she adds. “In the end, I realized I can live in color—I can’t wear it—but, I can have it around.”
Written by MELISSA GOLDSTEIN.
Photography by ROGER DAVIES.