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A Sparkling Diamond

Refreshing. Stimulating. Uplifting. Witty.  Native New Yorker Hester Diamond had a serious art collection, but was afraid of it being taken too seriously. She was determined to create a design for her Upper West Side apartment that accomplished showcasing her impressive art collection in an approachable way.

Hester Diamond is the mother of Michael Diamond, otherwise known as Mike D of the “Beastie Boys“. Little did we know, she is also an original, a talented interior designer and quite the visionary. Seeing the fresh approach to this interior, you can see now where Mike D got his ground breaking style.

Hester and her late husband Harold began collecting art in the 50s and became addicts. She continued her art habit after becoming a widow and then remarrying the former Dean of New York University in 1982. Their collection grew to consist of Mondrians, Kandinskys, Picassos, Veroneses, Brancusis, Pontormos, and Legers. She and her now-late husband got to the point where they started trading some of their other possessions for iconic works of art they fell in love with. They were in fact, serious about collecting their art.

After years in a career of social work, Hester decided to take a shot at interior decorating. Not surprisingly, with her innovative taste, she was a natural. After retiring from the industry in the late eighties, she came to a place in her own home where she wanted a change. She then evolved through phases of Mid-Century Modern and Neo-Classical/Renaissance styles in the home. She felt compelled to be, at regular intervals, refreshed and inspired. A few years ago she decided to again take on the redesign of her home and called on the assistance of her son’s friend Jim Walrod, a New York based interior designer and art consultant. Mike D referred to Jim as his ‘furniture pimp’ in a Rolling Stone article in the 90s and the nickname stuck.

Walrod co-owned the modern lifestyle store Form and Function in the 90s, specializing in Mid-Century Modern furniture with Fred Schneider of the B-52’s and song writer Jack Feldman. Jim has collaborated with designers and hoteliers on innovative interior concepts for hotels and restaurants such as The Standard in Los Angeles and The Park and The Thompson LES in New York. Hester hired him to help her bring her growing Renaissance art collection to life in a vibrant, modern setting.

The two collaborated and came up with a fresh, colorful concept. The look is totally original. Hester’s big drive was to find a color palette that was inspiring and happy, and brought her artwork to the forefront. Walrod and Diamond chose modern furniture pieces from Marcel Wanders, Tord Boontje, and Dune, setting them against citron painted walls and a candy colored patchwork carpet. The result is lively and cheerful, yet refined. In Hestor’s words, “It’s the most joyous place to live. It’s impossible to be depressed in this room.”

We’ve never seen anything like it, and that’s a quality we love. Pushing boundaries always results in something extraordinary, and kudos to Hester for being fearless. We have to say, she’s crafty. Enjoy these sumptuous photos filled with light, color and culture.

HighStreet. New York

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