• at home and at work with
    AT HOME AND AT WORK WITH REINALDO LEANDRO
    The NYC architect invites us to his eclectic and modern Soho apartment - a style self-described as "Tropical Modernism."
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    For architect Reinaldo Leandro, the design process is - first and foremost - driven by instinct.

    "I don't think we're a team that gathers and thinks about the concept. We rely more on intuition," he says of his company Ashe + Leandro, a firm he co-owns with interior designer Ariel Ashe. Known for a contemporary aesthetic that embraces warmth and a bit of playfulness, the pair's unique style and organic process have served them well during their short time as a duo. Since leaving their posts at Pierce Allen six years ago, the two have created spaces for everyone from Coldplay guitarist Jonny Buckland, to Seth Meyers' new office space and dressing room. And yet, the young team is just getting started, quickly progressing toward Reinaldo's ultimate vision of designing an entire residential building from the ground up.

    We recently visited the architect at his office space and nearby home, intrigued to see how his highly sought-after sense of style was reflected in his personal space. Located in a historic building in the heart of Soho, Ashe+Leandro's design studio is the perfect setting for the company's emotionally-driven creative process. With vaulted ceilings and soaring windows, light from an open courtyard accented its most charming details, like the original molding and aged wood floors. Furniture, objects and artwork are strewn throughout the office space - but nothing too precisely or perfectly placed - eliciting interaction, rather than intimidation.

    Located only a short walk away, Reinaldo's home offers an even clearer insight to his personal style, best classified as "tropical modernism," according to the architect. He walks us through his contemporary art collection, paired alongside tribal artifacts and heirloom furniture, passed down from relatives in his native Venezuela. The architect's tastes are diverse in age and origin, but share a common respect for materials and a strong embrace of texture. And much like the office, nothing feels intimidatingly precious (even despite the high monetary and emotional value).

    An impeccable curator of objects, I almost forget that Reinaldo is an architect by trade - a realization that leads me to inquire about the structure of the space. Originally a studio, Reinaldo re-imagined the 500 square foot room into a space-efficient one-bedroom apartment. Making optimal use of every square inch, the architect cleverly carves an office into his hallway, and builds additional storage space in every unused corner - proving himself a pragmatist as much as he is a visionary.

    Read about our visit to the rising architect's reconstructed Soho home, and equally inspiring office space.
  • WHAT BROUGHT YOU AND ARIEL TOGETHER AS A TEAM?

    We worked at Pierce Allen together, and modeled ourselves after them - they also have a male architect and female decorator. But we still have a strong relationship with Michael and DD, and they've been great mentors to us.

    Ariel and I work well together because we're both quirky and colorful. I'm from Latin America, so I'm very influenced by tropical modernism. She grew up between New Mexico and Martha's Vineyard, and likes a lot of terracotta, concrete and tiles, which is very similar to my aesthetic. We are modern and contemporary, but it's definitely not cold. There's a lot of play with textures and raw materials, which makes it different from just plain contemporary.

  • HOW MUCH DO THE TWO OF YOU COLLABORATE THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS?

    We like to keep things pretty separate. I actually don't love decorating for other people so much - I only like it for myself. With clients, I think the process can be overwhelming. People don't want to see 1,000 things, but there are just so many options out there. Ariel does a really good of understanding the client's tastes and being able to narrow things down, which is why she's so amazing.

    Our favorite projects are definitely those where we've done both the architecture and decorating. Luckily, as we've grown over the past 2 years, we've been doing that more and more. We just finished up the guitarist from Coldplay's house in London and another full-scale renovation in Martha's Vineyard. Both projects were super-excited and look really good!

  • We are modern and contemporary, but it's definitely not cold.

  • Ariel and I work well together because we're both quirky and colorful...

  • WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS FOR YOUR OWN HOME?

    I like to create for myself because I don't really think about it. My home is really just things that I encounter that I think are great. It's very eclectic - I love plants, vegetation, and I draw from that a lot. And I obviously like clean lines, white, grays...but there's no particular rhyme or reason.

    A lot of the furniture was actually inherited from my family. I had these dining chairs shipped to New York from my grandmother's home in Venezuela, and she also gave me the Bertoia wire chair. The sofa and ottoman are from my parents, but I recently had them reupholstered - I've been really into reupholstery these days. The main thing that I've purchased for the apartment is all of the artwork.

  • HAVE YOU DONE ANY ARCHITECTURAL WORK ON THE SPACE?

    Yea, it was originally a studio that I turned into a one-bedroom, so I had to reorganize the whole layout. I moved the kitchen, built in the small bedroom, put an office space into the hallway and built in a lot of storage. The space is only 500 square feet, but having a corner unit makes a big difference.

    I also recently purchased the unit next door, since they share this main wall. A tenant still lives there, but once she moves out, I want to tear down the wall, and turn it back into a 50s-inspired home - the era when the building was originally constructed. It also has another set of these large windows, so it'll be amazing once it's all done.

  • A lot of the furniture was actually inherited from my family. I had these dining chairs shipped to New York from my Grandmother's home in Venezuela...

  • shop the story
    3 STEPS TO TROPICAL MODERNISM
    We've identified the 3 most important essentials for recreating Reinaldo's eclectic meets modern style, self-described as "Tropical Modernism." Read and shop the quick tips below!
  • There's a lot of play with textures and raw materials, which makes it different from just plain contemporary.

  • I love plants, vegetation, and I draw from that a lot. And I obviously like clean lines, white, greys...

  • I like to create for myself because I don't really think about it. My home is really just things that I encounter that I think are great.

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