and have come up with a simple formula for decorating their midtown Manhattan apartment. Gow is in charge of the objects, while Faria handles the artwork.
This division of responsibility perfectly coincides with their respective professions. Gow is the co-owner of , an Upper East Side boutique that sells what he describes as "simple objects from Mother Nature": bowls made from onyx, amethyst, and other precious stones; sculptures--of sea horses, a cockatoo, a skull--carved from moose antlers; taxidermy birds (including a penguin and a flamingo); a replica of Brighton's Royal Pavilion made from matchsticks; and other astonishing exotica. "They're for people who have everything," he says, drolly. "Fancy, grand people, their lives are so complicated, so we give them something so unpretentious, so elegant, with great color or texture or shape."
Meanwhile, Faria, who was born in Venezuela, is the owner of , a gallery devoted to works by Latin American artists—specifically, geometric abstract art from the 1950s and '60s, as well as conceptual art from more recent decades. (The gallery is located a few short blocks from the Creel and Gow storefront.)
In the living room, throws from Bhutan and Uzbekistan are draped over a pair of midcentury love seats, and the flat-weave rug is from Turkey; the artworks are by, from left, , , and .
The couple's apartment—which they moved to two years ago, after more than a decade living uptown—is a "holding ground," says Gow, for pieces from both establishments. "Things that we're passionate about come here first. We enjoy them for a while, then we have to let go and put them in either the gallery or the store."
Christopher Gow outside his Manhattan apartment, near Grand Central Station.
This ever-revolving decor scheme results in a series of dizzying juxtapositions. Faria is drawn to art with a sense of history, and many of the oversize paintings and photographs in the compact apartment tell complex stories. A photograph by the Argentine conceptual artist Marta Minujín portrays her famous 1985 "happening," in which she symbolically paid off her country's financial debt to the United States by handing her friend Andy Warhol a bounty of corn, one of Argentina's biggest exports. The work hangs above a brass brazier, dating from the Ottoman Empire, which Gow found at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; this massive object in turn sits on a table with faux antler legs. The femurs of a giraffe and an ostrich are stacked on the floor, directly under a photograph of an auditorium at the Central University of Venezuela.
The guest-room bookcase is made from pine shelving and cardboard boxes.
Sometimes the line between objects and artwork is blurred. Another photograph, by Juan Manuel Echavarría, is a close-up of a tattered red towel shared by a group of Colombian women taken as political prisoners in 1999. A half-century of conflict is captured in a piece of cloth, says Faria, but, at the same time, "it suits our aesthetic love of fabrics and folds." Indeed, the house is filled with textiles that Gow has discovered in disparate corners of the world: a suzani from Uzbekistan, ikats from Indonesia, throws from Bhutan and Yemen. "Texture is our common ground," says Gow.
In the living room, midcentury floor lamps flank a photograph by ; the chandelier is by , the brass stool is from Creel and Gow, and the hanging Lucite-bead ornament is Turkish.
ot surprisingly, Gow and Faria are inveterate travelers, although not always together. "Henrique goes to about a dozen art shows a year," Gow says. "While he does those, I go off to unexpected or unusual places, to try to find something that no one else has found. I think I've visited more than 160 countries. I have such wanderlust—it's a gift to see another culture. At the shop, we try to bring a little bit of the world here, so if you can't travel, you can at least get a flavor. I love it when kids come into the store and focus on an object that you know is going to open a whole new vista for them."
Midcentury French chairs in the dining area. The curtains are of brass beading.
Gow, who grew up in Kent, England, came to collecting via an early career as an expert on sculpture at Sotheby's. His first business, Ruzzetti and Gow, also purveyed natural curiosities; it morphed into its current incarnation when he became partners with Jamie Creel, an American collector with similar tastes living in Paris.
Gow and Faria met 12 years ago, at an Indian-themed dinner party that Gow hosted; Faria attended as the guest of a friend. ("Home delivery," Gow jokes.) Their apartment overlooks the courtyard of their imposing 1924 building on Park Avenue, just south of Grand Central Station. The surrounding neighborhood of Murray Hill is one of those quiet, residential pockets that can be found throughout New York, lodged between busier commercial districts. Yet it's quick to reveal its hidden treasures. "You're constantly discovering new shops and restaurants," says Faria.
A 19th-century American Aesthetic Movement sofa and chair upholstered in faux fur, a Louis Philippe display table, and Poul Henningsen light fixtures in the bedroom.
With the United Nations a short distance away, there are diplomatic embassies nearby; around the corner on Lexington Avenue is a strip of Indian and Asian restaurants and groceries. "This area is a fabulous melting pot," notes Gow. "It's a slice of the world in one tiny area." Not unlike their apartment.
In the master bedroom, drawings by hang above a custom-made bed covered with an Indonesian ikat; the lamps are midcentury, and the shag rug is from Turkey.