So we all nestled together on the magnificent, inherited, Loro Piana fur throw slung across designer Sasha Bikoff’s couch: me, Sian, Sasha and her phone, which she occasionally stroked like a kitten. She’s young. But there’s a period sensibility to her interiors which, if developed, might become what we agreed to call “The New Opulence”. “I never send clients anything from Crate&Barrel or ABC Carpet & Home.”
Where did you get this? [We’re stroking the incredible, huge and sumptuous furthrow on the sofa]
It was my grandmother’s and it’s Loro Piana.
Oh my God!
So, it’s pretty nice
Pretty nice … that’s the word … anyway, I’m kind of curious because on your website you talk about your “vast worldly excellence” … it makes you sound a bit like James Bond. Tell us about your vast worldly excellence.
You know, I travel a lot. I lived in Paris for a year; I lived in London. I spend a lot of time in Miami and I grew up in Manhattan, so any time I travel places my favorite thing to do is kind of like wander around cities and go into museums and I try to go into as many homes as possible.
So if you see a home that you would really like to go into, would you ever just knock on the door?
Sometimes I go with real estate brokers. When I was in Paris I did that. I lived in St. Germain. So when I was just in Paris for fashion week, I called this broker that I knew and I was like, “I’d like to look at some apartments in St. Germain overlooking the Louvre and the Seine.” Not that I was going to buy a place.
You’ve blown your cover now.
[Laughs] But that’s what inspires me, like this eclectic mix of different cultures and different time periods.
Do you have a favorite period?
Yes. I have two, I guess. My favorite would be the ’60s and the ’70s. I love, like this Courrèges/Pierre Cardin style era with a lot of lacquer and chrome and space-agey and a little futuristic … also having, like that disco effect. If I was to be re-born I would love to be, like, part of the whole Studio 54 thing.
Well this fur throw is a bit like something you might see in 1970s porn movie—one with very expensive props, I suppose.
Yes. That’s really funny because I had a party here on Saturday night and everyone was saying, “This is such a sexy apartment” And I was like, “Really?” But it changes all the time. I also love anything to do with nature and flowers, things like that.
I guess that’s my whimsical side.
We have a problem with the word “whimsical” – it can sound so coy and cute.
I love cute things. I think people use “whimsical” in the wrong way. If I see a French hot air balloon-backed chair or a parrot in a cage or, you know, owl glasses or little cheetah salt-and-pepper shakers, I’m attracted to that. That’s a whimsy those pieces have. If I see a poodle, I’m going to buy it.
It’s interesting that you were very quickly able to name four specific things – do you have it all mapped out very quickly for your clients?
I do … but I kind of size up who I’m working with. I look at what they’re wearing and how they’re speaking. I just did this guy’s apartment on Lafayette Street. He’s in real estate and he’s half-Italian, half-Jewish. His dad’s like this old gangster-y guy; we decided that [the] apartment was going to be, like, Scarface, Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire – style. And that’s what we did.
So what does it look like?
So it looks like exactly that. We did pinstripe wool wallpaper in his bedroom and we did houndstooth wool wallpaper in the foyer. We did like a mirrored bar for that Scarface-y look. His coffee table is white, icy petrified wood with lucite, so that’s the Game of Thrones winter palace look. The people who come to me are not interested in having a basic home with fifty shades of grey.
That’s a very good description of what seems to be the safe option.
That’s why my dream is to eventually do hotels because I kind of create these fun little experiences.
So you like drama.
I like the drama and I like the party effect. I like when people come in and say, “Wow … this is so cool!” I think people with their homes try to play it safe because they’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to get sick of this.” But if you really look inside into who you are and what you’re passionate about and what you love and you bring that out and you take that risk, then that’s when you get into the exciting world of design. That’s what I like to capture.
But what about people who are just boring?
I always try and push the limits.
I feel encouraged by this … I hope that you’re spearheading … well let’s call it “The New Opulence”.
I hope I am too because I’m not a minimalist and I don’t like most contemporary furniture. I’m not into the bland.
So tell us about going to the American University in Paris.
It was probably the happiest time of my life. I was just floating around the city, taking everything in. I gave tours at the Musée d’Orsay. My favorite painting is Manet’s “Olympia”. It’s my favorite interior setting.
Some of your interiors are, well I was thinking, a bit Marie Antoinette-ish.
I love the Marie Antoinette, Madame Pompadour style, the gilding, the rococo style. That style is really not in today so you can find antiques [in that style] that are really inexpensive.
Did you grow up with antiques in your home?
I grew up in the most white, sterile, antiseptic home on 87th Street between Third and Lex. It was a duplex and everything was white. One day when I was about 15, I bought three shades of pink paint and I went into my room and started writing all these love quotes in all different languages in all these shades of pink paint. My room became this whole other pink world. My mom loved it but she really held back on design. It was my grandmother, who was from Iran, who was a huge inspiration to me.
What was her house like?
It had beautiful silk Persian rugs everywhere in every beautiful color you could imagine. It was very opulent. She had, like, crystal chandeliers everywhere and silk couches.
Now, back to Marie Antoinette … you’re easy to mock as a spoilt little rich girl—I’ve seen the snark online. What do you say to that?
I know where I come from and I know what I have and I know what I’m worth. My work is my life and it makes me happy. I have big dreams for myself. I will always want more for myself and I’m a very hardworking person. I respect high-powered women and I strive to be that. I’m not going to apologize for having nice things but I’m going to work my ass off. People can say what they want. I don’t care.
Do you like to party?
I love to party. I like to have fun.
Where do you go out? Not that we would know any of the places that you’ll tell us.
I like to go to One Oak …
Hang on, let me write this down … is that two separate words?
Yes … and I like Provocateur and Up and Down. But the clubs are getting a little old for me. I like to entertain in my apartment more.
What’s your favorite drink?
My favorite drink is Don Julio 1942.
So let me write this down … Don … and what, 42?
You guys are a riot.