Sue Hostetler is the editor-in-chief of Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine and has written a number of books but she did have the guts to admit that the verbiage in 'Art Forum' is too hard to wade through even if she is in the business. Her books include titles such as 'Hip Hollywood Homes' and 'Majestic Metropolitan Living' (Clarkson Potter) so she beats us hands down when it comes to nosing around other people’s houses. She’s a good sport and put up with us ribbing her a little—do people from Manhattan, Kansas take themselves less seriously than people from Manhattan, New York? We think so.
We were wondering why you chose to live in the East Village.
We didn’t specifically choose the East Village. We have been looking for a piece of property for a long time, many years and all we wanted to do was to build something unique, our own home. And this was an extraordinary piece of property, 23 feet wide and 100 feet deep and it came with 10,000 buildable square feet and four sides of light.
Was it already gentrified when you moved in?
We liked the East Village. It’s a little bit more funky and gritty. It’s very safe. The only thing that has happened was that my daughter and her friend were having a lemonade stand and the friend’s nanny came to pick her up. There were a couple of guys standing on the corner who looked a little sketchy and out of the blue, all these unmarked police cars come screeching down the street from both directions and cuffed them. The nanny kind of looked at me. I thought, that’s the last time Lila is going to come for a playdate.
A damask print wallpaper from Matter and a black-and-white tile floor make a bold statement in the front entryway.
The family bikes and boots are at-the-ready in the front entryway.
A series of prints by photographer Lynn Davis hangs on a wall by the guest bathroom.
The ‘disco’ guest bathroom was outfitted with ‘mood’ lighting and a disco ball. The wallpaper is from by Tres Tintas from Matter.
Well that could happen on the Upper East Side as well. What do you love about your job [as editor-in-chief of Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine]?
The two fairs together are the two most important art fairs in the world and Miami just does it different from anyone else … they way they honor the art, they honor film and they hire these architects to create spaces on the beach. As far as the magazine goes, I get to cover really some of America’s most fascinating people.
Do these fairs actually move the goods?
They do. I did an interview with Andre Balazs last year about Art Basel and one of the most memorable things he said was “It’s commerce.” And that is definitely true. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Do you ever feel a little out of your depth when interviewing a famous artist or a well-known curator?
Well, I didn’t get an advanced art degree so I sit down and do my homework. I’m getting paid to do that.
Black and red prints by Thomas Houseago and Aaron Curry from the series, ‘Two Face’ lean against a stairwell wall. The photograph of a street scene is by Chicago photographer, Sandra Newburg.
Looking across the ‘Great Room’ with its poured concrete floor and wood coffered ceiling by Christopher Bailey. Spencer’s trampoline fills the rear space of the Great Room. Artwork by Thomas Houseago and Aaron Curry leans against the back of a white contemporary sofa.
A massive limestone fireplace from Phoenician Stone in California keeps the Great Room cozy during the cooler months.
Sue and her husband Jon’s book collection fills a custom walnut library by Christopher Bailey.
Looking toward the main staircase. The custom white sofa and low-slung coffee table with a steel ‘x’ base was designed by Valerie Pasquiou and made by Christopher Bailey.
Don’t you think a lot of writing about art is just impenetrable? Can you read anything in Art Forum? Be honest!
No I don’t … I do not. Certainly [there are] shows or talks that I go to that I probably don’t grasp, that someone at a higher pay grade than I am is grasping …
Maybe there’s nothing there to grasp.
I was at a dinner—actually I was the host—and I put a friend next to Lisa Phillips, the director of the New Museum and he turned to her halfway and through and he said something like, “You know the art world is all a sham” and she had to rebut that. There are people like Lisa who truly believe in what they’re doing, and they passionately reject that idea.
The artists aren’t sham – it’s the circus around them. The status of collecting gets in the way. Maybe it has always been thus?
There seemed to have been something a little more altruistic in previous generations … I think the hedge fund guys get singled out now. I do find it interesting when someone buys a lot of expensive art and doesn’t support public institutions. I have a real problem with that.
In the staircase landing a work by Jan Eleni incorporates miniature versions of all of Spencer’s art.
The main staircase runs through the center of the house.
‘The Queen’ by British artist Anne Carrington.
Peeking into the master bedroom.
The master bedroom. A pair of mid-century bedside tables are by Edward Wormley for Dunbar. The custom runners are from The Rug Company.
Fresh flowers stand next to a photo of Sue and Jon in Paris.
A view of the backyard from the master bedroom.
A pair of chairs from B&B Italia flank a low mid-century table topped with a lamp from Troy.
A row of black-and-white photos by Jerry Stoll leans against the bedroom wall.
Looking into the immense master bath.
The master bath. The brown and white tile is from Portugal.
A daybed by Prouvé bought at a Sotheby’s auction is topped with a throw from Jonathan Adler.
A steam room and glass enclosed shower stand side-by-side in master bath.
Do you worry about what to wear at Art Basel Miami Beach?
Oh, I always worry about what to wear! I love fashion. I love fashion as much as art.
When I was looking you up online the first headline said: Sue Hostetler breaks down Art Basel Miami Beach and I first read it (thrilled I have to say) as: Sue Hostetler breaks down AT Art Basel Miami Beach.
That’ll be next year!
I have to ask you – I watched a video clip of you on Plum TV where you were touring an awful house in Miami that had once been an art deco temple – that guy who owned it, did he ask you out for a drink afterwards? He was clearly very taken with you.
[Laughs] Nooo… no! He was a really nice guy. Even though the house isn’t my aesthetic I actually thought the house was kind of interesting. His girlfriend came over during the shoot and I know this isn’t going to shock you but she was 25 and Russian.
‘Balloona Stool’ by Natalie Kruch is suspended from Spencer’s ceiling. The wall is covered in ‘Treehouse’ by Totally Custom wallpaper.
The colorful rug by and bunk beds, both from Ikea, are both practical and whimsical. The bed linens are from Pottery Barn.
A wall-sized blackboard in Spencer’s playroom comes in handy for homework.
A pair of multi-colored, floral pendant fixtures hang in Spencer’s bedroom hallway.
You seem like a girl that always gets guys … how long have you been married?
[really laughs] … We’ve been together for 12 years and celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary on Friday. I have so many single friends who say how awful it is to be single and in New York. I loved being single! I did not get engaged until I was 35.
So here we are, doing the same work, interviewing designers and house owners: how do you decide what questions to ask your interviewees?
I think I’m really interested in the relationship with their clients because it’s such an intimate relationship … it’s almost like being a therapist. And where they get their inspiration … probably all the questions everybody asks.
A group of photos that include works by Elliot Erwitt, Martine Franck and Andrea Modica hang above two sheep by Hansa.
Three photographs of Africa hang on a horizontal striped wall. The sofa is from Catherine Memmi in Soho. The coffee table is from Coconut and Co.
A white leather Eames chair was purchased by Sue’s husband, Jon, some 20 years ago.
Not us – we ask people where they keep their underwear. Where did you grow up?
Sian: Oh so you’re a Kansas girl! So you’re a country bumpkin then.
Lesley: She probably doesn’t think of herself as a bumpkin. You’re a New York snob.
Sian: Well she doesn’t look like a bumpkin …
[Laughing] I always laugh because you know it’s a college town of 60 000 so I went to school with children of professors and there’s a great museum in Manhattan (KA) that my parents helped build. We traveled a lot and it was great place to grow up and to go skiing.
The second floor eating area and kitchen. Pony skin chairs are custom made copies of a favorite mid-century style.
Stacked books rest atop nesting tables by George Nakashima. The color photos of a holiday camp in Ireland are by artist John Hinde.
A custom made faux leather dining banquette was built into a corner of the eating area. Vintage Lucite and stainless steel chairs surround a Saarinen Tulip table.
An open stainless steel kitchen by Boffi opens into the family eating area.
The kitchen island and sink are made out of poured concrete. The hand-constructed feather light fixtures by Pluma were purchased through British dealer Leigh Hammer.
Floor-to-ceiling doors open to the enclosed rear garden from the family room.
The rear façade of the house from the outdoor garden.
A hanging garden covers the west wall of the garden.
In the dining room, Lucite chairs purchased in L.A. surround a ‘Cityscape’ dining table by Paul Evans.
The family piano is tucked into a front corner of the dining room.
On the far wall, a chest of drawers inherited from John’s family is topped with family photos. The mother-of-pearl and steel pendant lamp was purchased at Neiman Marcus in Neiman Marcus.
Do you still go skiing?
I ski a lot although I switched to snowboarding about 16 years ago.
Do you cook?
We do. We’re having friends over tonight. My husband is really the resident cook.
What are you having?
We’re having a beef tenderloin, then we’re doing a cauliflower dish, Tuscan beans and a salad.
• Sian Ballen and Lesley Hauge
• Photographs by Jeffrey Hirsch