Jewellery designer Rosa De la Cruz has lived in her house for a decade. She knew it was right the minute she walked in – despite dire need of renovation. “The flat belonged to a music composer and his family, and it had not been touched since the 1980s. There were gold initials on the bathroom sinks, gold swan taps, I lost sleep over the gilded fireplace,” says de la Cruz. A radical revamp saw the creation of a front hall – “a buffer zone” – and the kitchen enclosed into an airy box, while a mezzanine and library were taken out to return the two ballrooms to their original lofty scale, ready to house de la Cruz’s ever-expanding art collection.
As the daughter of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz, renowned collectors and founders of the de la Cruz Contemporary Art Space in Miami’s Design District, her passion for art is inherited. “I started collecting in my early 20s. At the time painting was out of fashion, and everyone wanted installations, video art, photography.
“When we moved to London in the late 1990s, it was all about the YBA movement and I started collecting works by Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Chris Ofili and Damien Hirst, and an early Peter Doig”.
Rosa de la Cruz sits beneath enamel-on-canvas pieces by Lucien Smith, her feet resting on a Charlotte Perriand stool.
The original gilded mantel is offset by a gold leaf and steel work by American artist Kelley Walker, while custom-made Liaigre sofas are paired with armchairs by Jean Royère – described by de la Cruz as “the best pieces in the house”.
The recent addition of a vast painting by Laura Owens not only illustrates how de la Cruz’s collection is constantly evolving to reflect shifting preoccupations, but also the issues that occasionally face the dedicated collector. “It is so large, we had to cut out the window and door frame to get it into the flat,” de la Cruz laughs. The design pieces are as jaw-dropping as the art, featuring works by Jean Royère, Charlotte Perriand, Mathieu Matégot, and Jean Prouvé. There is a deliberate shift in tone between the dramatic living rooms and the more private spaces at the rear of the flat, which include the family’s bedrooms reflected, artwise, in a move from large dramatic canvases to more intimate works on paper. “I am a collector at heart, but I’m a minimalist. I’m constantly cleaning up and constantly editing. I have so many things I love, it’s amazing to be able to surround myself with them, move them around, get something new from them every day.” Tish Wrigley.
The kitchen sits inside a box-like structure, its white walls in contrast to a black, custom-made table and bench and a lamp by Serge Mouille.
The bedroom is lined with groups of Chris Ofili’s “Afromuses”, while an Ettore Sottsass totem sits in the corner.
Extracted from More Than Just a House: At Home with Collectors and Creators by Alex Eagle, with text by Tish Wrigley and photographs by Kate Martin, published by Rizzoli, £40stg.
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