The Aesthete: Lindsey Adelman opens her black book of style

The celebrated sculptural-lighting designer loves Alumnae’s slides, land art and Afrobeats tracks. By Christina Ohly Evans

Lindsey Adelman in her Brooklyn home
Lindsey Adelman in her Brooklyn home | Image: Nicholas Calcott

My personal style signifiers are my wedding rings: nine very thin, simple gold bands – the tiniest rings you could imagine – each embedded with teeny black and white diamonds. They’re by Satomi Kawakita, an independent designer based in Tribeca and I chose them when I lost my original wedding ring. In terms of clothing, I like modest, classic silhouettes but with a bit of bite, so my go-to designers are Rachel Comey, Maria Cornejo and Rick Owens.

Adelman’s Alumnae snakeskin slides
Adelman’s Alumnae snakeskin slides | Image: Nicholas Calcott

The last thing I bought and loved was a kiln by Skutt. It’s a medium-sized, electric commercial model that I use for prototyping light fixtures in our studio. I’m a beginner on it, though someone on my team is super-accomplished, so he uses it to make pieces for our custom chandeliers. My son, Finn, who is 15, taught me how to throw on the wheel, and I’m loving having a new hobby. 

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In my fridge you’ll always find Stella Artois, because it’s so easy to keep beer fresh and cold for a really long time. Whenever we open a bottle of wine, we never finish it before it spoils. I have zero interest in cooking, so my fridge is filled with things that give me a quick pick-me-up, like Jacques Torres dark chocolate with almonds. Jacques Torres Dark Chocolate Almond Bark, $9, from mrchocolate.com

On Adelman’s wishlist: a Mies Van der Rohe for Knoll coffee table
On Adelman’s wishlist: a Mies Van der Rohe for Knoll coffee table

On my wishlist is a coffee table for my living room. I’ve been looking at the Barcelona coffee table by Mies van der Rohe for Knoll. It’s so elegant. I swap furniture all the time between my Brooklyn home, my showroom and our house in Water Mill – it’s all pretty fluid where pieces end up – and I know this simple chrome and glass design will work equally well in each of these environments. $2,053.

Adelman’s wedding rings by Satomi Kawakita
Adelman’s wedding rings by Satomi Kawakita | Image: Nicholas Calcott

My favourite room in my house is our living room in Brooklyn. It’s cosy and creative, and it represents a lot of what matters most to me about family life. I love the ceiling height and the sun that comes through the windows that have no shades. We have a full wall of records, turntables and books, and another wall with candle sconces. There’s a big rug, a Togo sectional by Ligne Roset, a fireplace and a backgammon board for playing with my son – and it all feels perfect throughout the seasons. 

The 1970s denim shorts that Adelman found at Mother of Cod, a vintage shop in Nova Scotia
The 1970s denim shorts that Adelman found at Mother of Cod, a vintage shop in Nova Scotia | Image: Nicholas Calcott

The design that inspires me is the Integratron in the Mojave Desert in California. It’s a giant wooden dome where you go for relaxing, healing sound baths. The architect – who built it in 1954 – claimed he received the plans from aliens. My sound bath could have been as short as 20 minutes, but it felt like 20 hours, with all of us lying on blankets in a circle and looking up at the ceiling. I was transported somewhere else entirely. The nearby Joshua Tree Natural Park is always a magical place for me too. 

Apartamento magazine
Apartamento magazine

The last book I read was The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. It’s rough, elegant and insightful all at the same time, and the language and the quality of every sentence are masterful. I think she’s one of the best living writers. 

Stella Artois – a staple in Adelman’s fridge
Stella Artois – a staple in Adelman’s fridge

The last thing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of snakeskin slides by Alumnae in the West Village. It’s a great store and a great brand. I went in for mules and came out with slides in shades of black, grey and white that work with almost everything. $625.

One of Adelman’s recent reads: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
One of Adelman’s recent reads: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a land artist in the vein of Andy Goldsworthy and James Turrell, completely immersed in nature. I love the idea of making pieces that only look a certain way for a moment in time before nature changes them an hour later. 

“I was transported somewhere else entirely”: The Integraton in the Mojave Desert
“I was transported somewhere else entirely”: The Integraton in the Mojave Desert

The last meal that truly impressed me was at a restaurant called Claro, in Brooklyn. I went with my husband for our anniversary and it was delicious. I had an Ultima Bruja cocktail made with Chartreuse and birch lime – it was an incredible electric green. We shared chipotle shrimp tacos with fresh greens and a delicious short-rib and molé dish. The atmosphere is great as well – low-key with a rustic-chic Mexican vibe. 

Amaki Jasmine and Rose Nourishing Oil
Amaki Jasmine and Rose Nourishing Oil

My style icon is Emmanuelle Alt, editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris. She is so beautiful. French people typically look beyond anything that I can imagine looking like, and she is the epitome of this effortless chic. I love that she wears little jackets and high heels and these slightly masculine pants. She can definitely play with the boys.

Adelman in her dining room
Adelman in her dining room | Image: Nicholas Calcott

The grooming products I’m never without include Jasmine and Rose Nourishing Oil by Amaki, which I use for my face, body and hair. I have several of these lovely little bottles with floating rose petals that I use throughout the day. For shampoo, I like Shu Uemura’s Color Lustre for conditioning highlights. Amaki Jasmine and Rose Nourishing Oil, $27.50. Shu Uemura Color Lustre, $49.

Vinyl, books and turntables in Adelman’s living room
Vinyl, books and turntables in Adelman’s living room | Image: Nicholas Calcott

The best gift I’ve received recently is Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women. It focuses on three women who were interviewed extensively about their thoughts on sexuality and desire. It was given to me by a good friend because I think it’s something that we both know is an area of our society that is not written about enough. 

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The last music I downloaded was by Burna Boy. I love several of his Afrobeats tracks, including DangoteOn the Low and More Life. A woman who works in our shipping department always has her earbuds in and she’s always super-chilled-out, so I asked her what she was listening to and she sent me her playlist. This is amazing music that makes you want to dance, but in a really relaxed, mellow way. When I put Burna Boy on, I can feel the anxiety start melting away. 

A recent “find” was Mother of Cod, an incredible vintage shop in Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia. I bought a pair of faded 1970s cut-off denim shorts that had the pockets ripped off, with deep-blue denim hearts handstitched in their place. I think they’re fabulous.  

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could would be Yayoi Kusama – her Infinity Nets paintings, in particular. I admire the fact that she did something with her struggles, and made them productive. As a creative person, I find great hope in that.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to recently is Bali. I was there for a yoga retreat near Ubud, organised by a group called Oneworld Retreats. It was incredibly authentic and I felt immersed in the Balinese way of life, from the belief systems to the ceremonies. I stayed in one of its stone dwellings that are built into a cliffside – it’s like a terrace in the jungle with little altars everywhere, moss growing on everything and billowing smoke for added effect. I don’t like anything fancy or forced, or the western idea of luxury being imposed on another country, and this place felt like it was coming from a Balinese idea of beauty. Seven-day retreat, from $1,900. 

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a beige linen cocktail napkin from a party at Nilufar gallery in Milan. It came with my drink, before I knew anyone at the party, or had even met the owner, Nina. We are now friends and shortly after the party I started showing my work at her gallery. This napkin always reminds me of an exciting starting point, and it was the opening up of an idea. For me, it stands for potential. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the corner of Howard and Crosby Streets in New York. There’s got to be some kind of vortex right at that spot. At Opening Ceremony, I love the kooky vibe and the clothing edit, including its own label. And I can’t resist the furniture and decorative-design store BDDW. Close by, I find stores such as de Vera every bit as inspirational as any museum in terms of the objects and jewellery, and Michele Varian is an excellent resource for housewares. 

The people I rely on for my wellbeing are both in New York: Stephen Thevenot at David Mallett Salon, who has been doing my hair for a very long time, and an acupuncturist named Thomas Droge who specialises in necks and backs. I went to him when I was getting cricks in my neck and they went away after just one appointment. His questions really brought the words out of me – the words I already had in my mouth that I just needed to spit out. I realise now that any blockage in the body is really created by thoughts. 

My favourite websites are The New Yorker for opinion pieces, and Apartamento and Pin-Up for art and design. I think Pin-Up is the best magazine on architecture and design out there. I also really love See Saw – an app that highlights art critics’ picks for the best of what’s on. You can also make a list of things you want to see in a particular city and the app makes a map and puts pins in place so you can easily access everything.

The object I would never part with is... nothing at all. I feel strongly about this because I design objects for a living, and nothing material is too precious. 

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