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A Life Exotic

Giancarlo and Ramya Giangola, the husband-and-wife masterminds behind the NYC-based fashion advisory services company Gogoluxe (gogoluxe.com), open up about their modern gem in Sagaponack and the far-flung travels that inspire them (and net them household treasures along the way).

HIP TO BE SQUARE
Giancarlo and Ramya Giangola’s modern beach house, part of the Houses at Sagaponac development, was designed in 1996 by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson Architects in NYC, with Luben Dimcheff as the lead architect. “The house is extremely private, but full of light,” says architect Henry Smith-Miller.

Who designed this magnificent house, and did you work with the architect?
Giancarlo Giangola: The house was designed by Smith-Miller + Hawkinson in NYC. We found the house when it was nearly complete, and as a result, we weren’t involved in either the design or construction phases. However, soon after moving in, we met and developed a great relationship with Henry Smith-Miller and Laurie Hawkinson, and Luben Dimcheff, who was the lead architect. Both Henry and Luben have been instrumental in explaining elements of the design philosophy of the house, and in turn, helping us to maximize its use, potential and enjoyment.

Was this your first modern home?
GG: No. At the time that we were looking for a house out East, we were living in an apartment we owned in Philip Johnson’s Urban Glass House in New York. We also had an investment property at River Lofts in Tribeca designed by Tsao & McKown Architects, and we lived there briefly before our daughter was born.

Did you have help decorating?
Ramya Giangola: We did the interior design ourselves. It’s been an organic process over the past seven years, adding pieces, textures and layers along the way. It was great to have an empty shell, which was quite sparse the first couple of years. But we continue to add to that with accessories, books, art and lighting. Many of the key furniture pieces are from places such as Knoll, Cassina, Vitra and B&B Italia. We also found some Chinese pieces on a stopover in Singapore during our honeymoon—10 years ago this summer—including the meditation chairs in the study and the long black lacquered table in the foyer. Early on we found a selection of carpets by our friend Madeline Weinrib, which we have throughout the house, along with her oversize floor cushions.

Any other favorite places to find furniture or design pieces?
RG: For great vintage finds, Russ and his RE Steele in East Hampton is our favorite. Harper’s Books in East Hampton has an amazing selection of tomes on fashion, photography, design, architecture and many other areas, including rare and hard-to-find items (we’ve had our eye on the complete volume of Rei Kawakubo’s 1980s Six magazine for Comme des Garçons). Clic Gallery has been a great source for fun and unique pieces that help add texture to our home, like the feathered Zulu hats and wooden painted rockets. We’ve also found some nice art for the walls by local East End artists there. Recently, we purchased a painting-collage by local artist Ryan Wallace at Eric Firestone Gallery. And Monc XIII in Sag Harbor, where Natasha and her team are always warm and welcoming, and constantly surprise and inspire us with their finds, merchandising and edit.

Giancarlo and Ramya Giangola

Do any pieces in the house have a special memory associated with them?
GG: As a move-in gift, Henry Smith-Miller generously gave us a terrific vintage wood and leather chair. And we love the large oval Saarinen marble pedestal table where we gather with friends and family for meals. Each of these Knoll-manufactured tables has a unique and interesting stone top piece. People have suggested that ours looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, with the wide array of spots and veins in the stone.

Have you both always been modernists?
GG: I grew up surrounded by a lot of classic midcentury modern furniture at home, as my mother and stepfather, who are art dealers, predominantly furnished in that style.
RG: I gained my deeper appreciation for modern when I met Giancarlo and his family, and saw an example of mixing a predominantly modern design with tribal art. The interplay of surfaces and textures, materials and colors from these different worlds—modern and ancient—further amplify the experience and effect of each style, while also somehow sitting together in harmony.

You work together at Gogoluxe—how do you balance that?
GG: Although it’s a small company, we both do quite different things. As a full-service fashion advisory services firm, Gogoluxe works primarily with large, influential retail groups, often based outside of the United States. We guide those retailers on the U.S. market. We also provide creative marketing solutions and offer market intelligence across the fashion, art, home, food and lifestyle disciplines. More recently, we began working with young brands on merchandise mix, collection edit and sales presentation strategy. Ramya is all about the fashion side of it. She spends her day out in the market, meeting with designers and creatives of all disciplines. Meanwhile, I’m more on the operational side of the business, looking after the day-to-day of the company. We do work on distribution deals together, but often the day is spent on our own projects, physically apart. At the end of the day, we still each arrive home and have that ‘Hi, honey, how was your day?’ moment.

You’re a predictor of trends in fashion and style—what influences your decisions?
RG: More than anything, it’s based on a feeling or instinct that’s informed through constantly speaking with people and knowing what’s happening in the market across trends and cultural movements. Seeing a new designer collection, I just feel it in my gut when it’s right, new, modern, fresh, different. I’ve had the privilege of previewing the first collections of some hugely talented designers, such as when I first met Joseph Altuzarra. It was amazingly clear that he was going to be influential and have an important voice in fashion. Moments like that are very special!

Ramya, you’re of Indian descent and, Giancarlo, you’re Italian, and you both travel often to the Far East—how has that influenced your business, style and philosophies?
RG: We’re hugely privileged to be able to spend so much time in Asia and the Far East. Having worked in that part of the world for so long, it’s been such an amazing journey sitting at the forefront of the exploding economies of China and India. The markets’ hunger for newness—new brands, new trends, new concepts—is so exciting. These young consumers are so open and eager to learn about the latest, most risk-taking brands, and it’s tremendous to be a part of such a historical movement in the growth of such countries. Travel is hugely influential on all aspects of our lives. Being able to learn about different cultures, their habits and preferences, cuisine, architecture and indigenous art forms has completely informed the way we approach business and personal life.
GG: Having a constant desire and openness to experience new things, and discover newness‚ is essential to our lives. This all stems from travel and exploration. From a stylistic point of view, it’s very special to be able to integrate the amazing one-of-a-kind pieces we’ve found during our travels. Aside from home objects, this extends to pieces for Ramya’s wardrobe—these pieces tell a story, and she loves mixing them up!

How has the Hamptons influenced your business?
RG: It provides a great escape from the day-to-day fast pace of being in the city and in the market. The Hamptons gives us a chance to refresh and reset the eyes, and appreciate the natural beauty that being in the woods and near the ocean offers. As a result, it allows us to be more focused when back in town. Meanwhile, there is a different sense of style and design out in the country and by the beach—seascape, beach vibe, surfer or ‘rust-luxe’ [rustic luxury], as the case may be, and that’s fitting to the area. There are also great little shops and homegrown designers that inherently have all of that inspiration and influence to draw from.

What are your favorite haunts?
GG: The beaches of Sagaponack and Wainscott; the bayfront in Amagansett; Vine Street on Shelter Island; Fresno in East Hampton (where my stepsister is the executive chef); the Hideaway in Montauk for tacos; TownLine BBQ in Sagaponack for a weekly fix; the Tomas Maier boutique in East Hampton, where fabulous Fabienne always greets us with an embrace; Pike Farms for seasonal produce; and Lazypoint and Tiina the Store, both in Amagansett, for special finds.

Any Hamptons secrets you can let us in on?
GG: Aside from the cheese Danish at Breadzilla? The cool new basement-level art gallery at Harper’s Books.