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For the Love of Art
By Zlata Kozul Naumovski | Photo: by Cynthia Lynn | October 1, 2018
A real estate broker combines two units in a luxury high-rise to showcase his collection of fine art and antiquities.
It may take a village to raise a child, but it took a team of four art installers, one art consultant and one interior designer to direct the installation of a real estate broker’s significant art collection into a 3,100-square-foot luxury condo with sweeping park and lake views in downtown’s newest neighborhood, Lakeshore East.
“We had a plan mapped out where we wanted certain pieces,” says Kate Taylor, the interior designer hired by Nicholas Colagiovanni, a real estate agent with Baird & Warner, to carefully orchestrate the placing of his art in his recently expanded condo. Once the furniture was in place, “we started with the large-scale works and the ones he loves the most,” she explains. “It took a couple of days to install the art; it was a big undertaking. I couldn’t have directed that on my own.”
And that was after Taylor combined two units on the same floor, one of which Colagiovanni—who sells $40 million to $50 million of residential real estate in Chicago per year—purchased in part to gain more wall space for his growing collection. “I went from 1,700 square feet to 3,100 square feet all in the name of art,” he says.
Colagiovanni was always intrigued by fine art and antiquities, but growing up in Cleveland, the arts were discouraged in his household. “An interest in art was perceived as a sign of weakness or laziness,” he says. “It wasn’t until I started making great money that I could afford original work and antiquities from Indochina.” Among his possessions are pieces from Korea, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia purchased at the Christie’s auction house as well as local gallery Andrew Bae and antiques showroom The Golden Triangle. Additionally, he collects black-and-white photography from Chicago fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski.
“I carefully select each piece based on how it makes me feel,” Colagiovanni explains, “and I had the pleasure of sitting down and having dinner with most of the artists. People talk about L.A., New York or Miami for a great art scene; Chicago has a great art scene.”
Though it was challenging to place the copious amount of works—including a 13th century terra-cotta tiger’s-head sculpture and a riding jacket made of freshwater pearls—Taylor also had to maintain an open floor plan and facilitate Colagiovanni’s love of entertaining. “The individual units were open to begin with, and we wanted to keep that quality,” she says. Despite cumbersome plumbing and electrical stacks, “we accomplished that.” Taylor also created a formal living room, a more casual family room and a dining room. She even managed to carve out a room to house his comic book collection. “He wanted more of those designated areas he didn’t have before,” she says.
The interior designer contrasted white walls, the obvious choice to best showcase art, with cabinetry in the bar and kitchen done in Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black and a patterned marble floor in the entry. “Nicholas always wears a navy suit and a tie with a little pattern in it. I wanted to translate that sharp, masculine look into the home,” she says. “I wanted it to feel like Nicholas, and the way he dresses is a reflection of what we did in the condo.”
In the living room, the palette was based on a huge painting behind the sofa that looks like it could be a Basquiat, while in the guest bedroom, she took her color cues from the feather headdress hanging above the bed. “I wanted everything to complement the artwork,” Taylor notes. She upholstered furniture throughout the enlarged condo in wools, linens and cotton velvets by Loro Piana, helping mitigate all the floor-to-ceiling glass.
Only one wall in the guest bedroom remains blank. Colagiovanni says he is waiting for inspiration, “for my heart and my soul to be touched,” to buy that special piece. “Buying fine art is a privilege, and living with it is a luxury,” he says. He jokes that when he runs out of wall space, “I’ll probably start hanging art on the ceiling.” Either that, or he may have to shop for more real estate.
Kate Taylor, Kate Taylor Interiors
Yoder Kitchen Corp.
Tony Wight, Spencer Fine Art Services
Custom coffee table
Lamps in living room
Phillip Jeffries grass cloth in powder room
Accessories and some vintage pieces
Leo’s Furniture & Upholstery
Custom tufted ottoman
Ceiling fixture in entry
Loro Piana interiors
All upholstery fabric
Custom sectional in living room
Fixtures in wet bar