See Inside Designer Harry Nuriev’s Electric Blue Apartment

The Moscow-born designer makes furniture in one color at a time, and we got a preview of his next hue.

by Erin Schwartz
Feb 23 2018, 6:01pm

When you step into Harry Nuriev’s Williamsburg apartment, which also serves as the headquarters of his furniture company, Crosby Studios, you see blue: a saturated, deep shade, somewhere between electric and royal. The kitchen cabinets, counters, and faucet are blue, and the long, low sofa is blue vinyl on a powder-coated base. On a coffee table in the living room, a ceramic dish with a pattern of azure crayon scrawls holds candies the color and shape of robin’s eggs. When Nuriev invited me to take one, I thought they were chalk or hard pastels. But when I bit through the candy shell, it tasted like butterscotch.

The dining room table and chairs seen from the living room. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov

Being in an apartment designed by Nuriev is an all-encompassing experience: his knack for detail unites each element, down to the plate of trompe l’oeil candy. “In my space, I feel that people speak differently. They think differently,” Nuriev told me. “I just try to present them with a comfort zone.”

The apartment was designed when Nuriev was making furniture predominantly in his particular shade of blue (although his commissioned work comes in many shades). It appears throughout: in a cerulean-veined marble tabletop, sourced from New Jersey; loop-backed chairs; and the low vinyl-and-metal sofa, whose trickiest production challenge was matching the fabric to the hue of the powder coating. A chandelier of cobalt Bic pens was inspired by high-school exams. There’s a huge poster of Russian-Korean pop star Viktor Tsoi in the kitchen, chosen for its blue backdrop: when I asked if Nuriev is a fan, he answered, “I’m not, actually, he’s just the icon of an entire generation.”

The rare blue-veined marble came from New Jersey, of all places! Photo by Mikhail Loskutov

Speaking of icons, a small image of a Russian Orthodox saint watches over the living room, found in Greenpoint (“I like the color”). There are subtle references to Nuriev’s heritage throughout the space: there are metal sculptures shown at Design Miami inspired by folk designs and developed with Russian tinsmiths, and a brass carousel bookcase that evokes the speculative skyscrapers of Russian Constructivism. In the dining room hangs a particular kind of wood cutout landscape that has now become a rarity in Russia, but “before, it was in every single office.”

Nuriev is busy, with six upcoming shows this year. His next is this April, at the Dallas Contemporary. And after his year-long Blue Period, he’s moving on to his next creative phase: he pulled out a swatch of plush, purple velvet to give me a preview. It's an amethyst shade he compared to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty lilac lipstick and the sofas in Marina Abramović’s New York apartments. (It’s also a fitting choice for the Year of Ultra Violet.) When I asked what he associated with the hues, Nuriev told me, “Blue is very strong and protective. Purple is more regal.”

“I have to say that when I was in my pink phase, I was so naive,” he continued. “And pink is very naive.”

See more photos of Crosby Studios below.

The blue vinyl and metal couch with a small illustration of a Russian Orthodox saint. At left, an illustration by Le Corbusier. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov
Nuriev calls this corner his "tiny architecture." The brass bookcase and Donald Judd-inspired chair both rotate. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov
The marble-topped dining room table, with a rare Russian woodcut hanging on the wall. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov
On the bedroom walls and ceiling, Nuriev recreated an illustration by Le Corbuiser. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov
A few vestiges of pink remain: a rose-colored window separates the kitchen and dining room. Photo by Mikhail Loskutov
harry nuriev
crosby studios