Sense of Balance
This design duo has distinct style, without compromising individual tastes
Story by Maria Qualtere / Photography by Hisham Bharoocha
Christopher Coleman and Angel Sanchez will be the first to admit that they don’t always agree when it comes to designing. So combining Coleman’s interior design aesthetic (bold colors and shapes) with Sanchez’s fashion aesthetic (sleek black and white forms) may have seemed like a gamble. But by capitalizing on one another’s strengths, the two are building a joint design empire that rivals their commanding individual visions. “I try to control him in terms of being just decorative, and he always tries to push me in taking more risks,” Sanchez says. “I guess that balances our styles.”
The designers met 11 years ago in Venezuela, where Sanchez, a famed fashion designer who had earned the loyalty of celebrities like Eva Longoria Parker and America Ferrera, was in the process of designing his penthouse apartment. Coleman, a respected interior designer branded by his eclectic approach and permanent sense of humor, collaborated with him on the project. Coleman also helped Sanchez design his showroom, where his new collections are displayed every four months.
Their professional partnership began in 2008 when they signed on to design Nuela, a new restaurant in New York’s Flatiron district, and have since worked together on four other residences, and just within the past year, have designed rooms in two show houses.
“We love show houses!” Coleman says. Sanchez adds, “Chris and I understand doing these kinds of projects is the best way to show our work as a team.” In April, they designed a recreation lounge room at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Then, Metropolitan Home contacted the duo about taking part in the magazine’s annual show house it cosponsors with Showtime, and they both immediately agreed.
Metropolitan Home’s Showtime House is located in two adjoining penthouses in Tribeca, and features rooms designed around six series from the cable network. All of the designers were given the opportunity to submit their three top choices for the room they wanted to design. Coleman and Sanchez jumped to design a bedroom based on the popular new summer series “Nurse Jackie.” “We thought ‘Nurse Jackie’ was so cool,” Coleman says. “A strong, witty woman…and from a design aesthetic, we love playing with medical elements as furniture.”
Their “Nurse Jackie” room features a metallic ceiling, wall-to-wall carpet that looks like long, silk hair, and a wall covering that resembles prescription pills. They used a white, blue, and silver color palette, and even included aseptic materials to keep the room looking fresh and clean and aptly represent the show’s feeling of being in a hospital. But Sanchez says they strove to make the space look like it came out of a real home rather than a TV set. “[Designing this room] was a great way to come with something new and fresh, but a little kinky like the show itself,” he says. The show house is open to the public on weekends until mid-October.
Also this fall, they will take their design expertise to the kitchen. Nuela, located on 24th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, will showcase the pair’s first attempt at co-designing a commercial space. They worked with the head chef on all interior design aspects of the Latin restaurant, from the lighting to the staff uniforms. “The design stems from Latin reference, but we modernized the cha, cha, cha!” Coleman says.
While the professional team has a lot in mind for collaborative projects, they haven’t lost sight of their individual goals in the process. Coleman hopes to expand his rugs and kids’ furniture collections, and Sanchez plans on designing wedding dresses for his A-List actresses. “I would love to design the wedding dress to Kiera Knightly; I love her classic beauty and her feminine fragility,” he says.
Their diverse project list goes hand-in-hand with their diverse design styles, but each day brings them closer to mastering the art of compromise. “We are still working on our unified design style, which I find very exciting,” Coleman says. “This will continue to develop, so wait and see.”
While we wait and see them gain success over the next year, there’s one thing we can be sure of: these two have proven it’s not so much about reaching a settlement on one’s ideas or the other’s, but rather uncovering a chic style while figuring it out. And Ms. Knightly is sure to have a knock-out wedding gown if the time comes.