PHOTOS BY DYLAN CHANDLER
tongue like nursery rhymes. After the success of the Duo Diaper Bag, Skip Hop’s focus became evaluating tried-and-true baby gear essentials and reinventing them by eliminating the extraneous, increasing functionality and making everything lovely to look at. As these themes began to shape their company, the couple decided it was time to bring this design philosophy home, right into their living environment. “Our company is geared to the urban parent, to make things beautiful, to work with the urban environment, to save space, to minimize and simplify,” Ellen explains. “It was time to bring that home.” So in 2008, they made a rather startling move. They bought a brand-new apartment, packed every last bit of furnishings in their old apartment into storage, and started over from scratch. Seeking out a “more minimalist, Zen environment than their eclectic” Upper West Side prewar apartment, they decided on a 1600-square foot apartment downtown. After looking at brownstones and fixer-upper lofts, they purchased their
current space, sight-unseen. The building boasted a developer with a sterling reputation and renowned architecture firm FXFOWLE, and the space offered Ellen and Michael a blank canvas in which to realize their new vision. Working with mid-century loving twin-sister designers Joan and Jayne Michaels of 2Michaels Interior Design, Ellen sought out a balance of simple contemporary design, but with vintage pieces. Vintage furniture curator Larry Weinberg was also consulted, and the result of the combined efforts is a space that is at once elegant and peaceful, but oozes comfort. And (no surprise here), it’s exquisitely functional. Upon entering the space, the first thing a parent might wonder is: where is all of the stuff? Well, much of it is squirreled away in the storage space (which they have yet to visit after two years) but what is left is tucked away through clever design. All media has been digitized to alleviate the endless shelves of books, CDs and DVDs. Beautiful custom heater covers were designed to hide the heaters, as well as cords, plugs and wires. Everything has a place, and it’s mostly hidden. “We wanted to make things go away,” Ellen says. The living room plays host to an elegant side console—a stunning, LEFT: Argentine furniture marble-topped, 1950’s horizontal fildesigner Roberto Gil created a custom wall ing cabinet by Knoll. The couch, from unit for Spencer’s room. Dune, is a stealth number which conBELOW: The den verts to become an ersatz chaise or daycombines elegance and bed, like the sexiest La-Z-Boy in town. simplicity with practicality It’s as if everything has a secret identity: and comfort. slick beauty on one hand, purposeful practicality on the other. The den, for lack of a better word, is a dreamy chocolate brown that you just want to melt into. It’s where the television lives, and where son Spencer likes to hang out with his friends. It is as comfortable a room as one can imagine, without sacrificing an iota of elegance. So how does the Diamants’ design aesthetic translate into a kid’s room? The answer is Argentine furniture designer Roberto Gil. After consulting with Spencer, Gil built a wall unit perfectly suited to his needs. Properly scaled and supremely functional, it makes an exuberant collection of plastic toys look like a museum installation, and is intended to grow with Spencer through the years. As Ellen explains, Skip Hop “really thinks about how parents and kids live; we don’t just spit out products,” and the same can be said for the Diamants’ home. They’re like a mom and pop shop gone gracefully big time, continuing to run their now international-scale business with particular attention to detail, thoughtfulness and focus. What’s more, their work and home lives flow into one another, and their love for both design and family life is everywhere, from each new Skip Hop product to the sofa in their living room. “We are all-in-one,” Michael says. “You don’t find a lot of that anymore.” G January 2011 | New York Family
Published on Jan 1, 2011
New York Family is a monthly family lifestyle magazine focused on the interests, needs, and concerns of New York City parents. The print pub...