Thanks to his professor parents, who both taught American History, jewelry designer has been collecting antiques since he was a kid. “When they were getting their doctorate at NYU they would supplement their income by selling antiques, “ he says remembering attending auctions and picking through flea markets at a young age. “They would teach me why they were buying different things.”
Alexis Bittar sits next to a provocative Victorian painting of a woman in mourning. "It's a bizarre piece. Her husband just died and she was like 'wait let me sit for this portrait right now.' What’s incredible about that painting, for me, is that she has see-through sleeves and she’s mourning."
Now, Bittar admits that it’s difficult for him to buy something new because he’s hardwired for antiques. “I fell in love with the romance of the history in an object and how it travels through time.”
When it comes to old objects he shows no favoritism. Naturally, he’s fascinated by vintage jewelry, but he’s equally inspired by the art, textiles, furniture and decorative objects of distant eras.
“I am really an emotional consumer,” he says of the eclectic mix of origin-ranging objects at his home. “I buy things first and then I make them work.”
A trio of standout pieces combines for major visual impact.
Although, following his heart over his head sometimes results in unique situations. “I recently bought a mirror that was three feet too big so I was forced to cut it," he says commenting that altering the past ordinarilly isn't his style. Typically the diverse relics he acquires, magically, mingle harmoniously.
A carved mantle in Bittar's living room is a lesson in carefree layering.
At Bittar's home, a Southwestern tribal throw is draped on the corner of a contemporary sofa that sits on a Persian rug.
"The art I buy is what I consider to be forward-thinking and something I would want to emulate in one way or another."
In the kitchen, checkerboard tilework gives off retro vibes.
"The other weekend I had 45 people at my apartment. It was packed. I ordered from La Lunchonette on 18th street and just piled the food on the table."
"I love the use of juxtaposed color. You can see in my jewelry color palette that I mirror sensibilities in some of the paintings that I have. For example, I'll use a dash of red as an accent instead of a majority."
"This sterling silver motorcycle is Cartier from the 1970s. I found it in Baltimore at an antique show. Each piece is handmade."
"I'm drawn to a piece for many reasons. Either it's because of the craft (like the craftsmanship of a detailed mosaic box) or the artist (like being able to own something by Josef Hoffmann) or the concept (when I wake up I want to look around my home and feel stimulated)."
"I think some people come over and think the things I own are creepy."
"I don’t have a formula on how I decorate. I love what I love and I make it work."