The Aesthete: Rodman Primack talks more personal taste

The Design Miami executive director rounds up his list of likes with Big Sur, contemporary art and Chez Panisse

Rodman Primack at home in New York
Rodman Primack at home in New York | Image: © Weston Wells

My style icon is my grandfather who wore beautiful understated clothes – cashmere sweaters, exquisitely cut blazers – in an unaffected way. He was a sportsman and loved to ski, sail and fish, so his clothing was elegant but always practical. I also love gallerist Bruno Bischofberger’s style: his mash-ups of traditional alpine attire such as plus-fours with contemporary tailoring are great because they are a natural reflection of his personality.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Teshima Island in the Japanese Seto Inland Sea. It’s part of the Naoshima group of islands, and as it is the least populated, it has a very rural, almost jungle-like feel. The Teshima Art Museum there is an incredible collaboration between architect Ryue Nishizawa and the artist Rei Naito – the building and the works of art are one; going there felt like some sort of a pilgrimage. We stayed at the Tadao Ando-designed Benesse Art Site – it has an amazing oculus and sits at the top of a majestic hill. Benesse Art Site and Hotel, 607 Karato, Teshima, Tonosho-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa 7614662 (www.benesse-artsite.jp). Teshima Art Museum,+8187-968 3555.

In my fridge you’ll always find Dijon mustard, Perrier-Jouët champagne and lots of seeds. I love chia, pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds in my homemade bircher muesli – as well as raspberries and blueberries, which I always have on hand. You’ll also find almond, cashew and cow’s milk, and kombucha tea and coconut water. www.perrier-jouët.com.

The Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
The Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California | Image: Kodiak Greenwood

A recent “find” is Su Gologone in the hinterlands of Sardinia. We sail with our friends every summer, and this year we went hiking in the mountains of Sardinia, followed by a delicious lunch at this very laid-back hotel and restaurant. We chose things like roast suckling pig, rustic pastas and paper-thin bread topped with tomato and pecorino cheese, folded and served like a burrito. It was like being in someone’s beautiful country home. Località Su Gologone, 08025 Oliena NU, Sardinia (+39078-428 7512; www.sugologone.it).

The thing I’m eyeing next is a ceramic work by LA-based artist Karin Gulbran. She makes large, figurative vases and pots that are beautifully painted and have unique glazes. They’re embellished with crazy flowers and animals and I’d love one for my home in Greenwich Village. Pierre Marie Giraud Gallery, 7 Rue de Praetere, Brussels 1050 (+322-503 0351; www.pierremariegiraud.com).

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Los Angeles because it is such a creative, vibrant place. It would be an easy transition as we have so many friends there and I would love to live in Hancock Park. Some of my favourite restaurants are there – I like Gjelina for its inventively prepared vegetables and butterscotch pudding; Hinoki & the Bird for Japanese-influenced Californian cuisine, and the dinner scene at The Tower Bar on Sunset is wonderful too. I’m also a big fan of LA’s great taco trucks. Shops like Maxfield and Fred Segal have great, unique fashion by Dries Van Noten and other smaller brands, and I love the museums – especially the Hammer Museum for its small scale and the excellent contemporary art. The Huntington in Pasadena is one of LA’s true treasures; the art collection and gardens there are spectacular. Fred Segal, 8100 Melrose Ave, 90046 (+1323-651 4129; www.fredsegal.com). Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, 90291 (+1310-450 1429; www.gjelina.com). Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard,90024 (+1310-443 7000). Hinoki & the Bird, 10West Century Drive, 90067 (+1310-552 1200; www.hinokiandthebird.com). The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, 91108 (+1626-405 2100; www.huntington.org). Maxfield, 8825 Melrose Avenue, 90069 (+1310-274 8800; www.maxfieldla.com). The Tower Bar, 8358 Sunset Boulevard, 90069 (+1323-654 7100; www.sunsettowerhotel.com).

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An indulgence I would never forgo is a good massage and I work them into my schedule wherever I am in the world. When I am at my home in Guatemala, I love to get a massage at the Porta Hotel in Antigua, where the therapists are excellent. Another indulgence is acupuncture and I’m committed to James Rohr who divides his time between Brooklyn and Miami and keeps me feeling great both physically and mentally. Acupuncture Williamsburg, 169 Wythe Avenue, Suite 103, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (+1917-446 9868; www.acupuncturewilliamsburg.com). Porta Hotel, 3A Calle Poniente, Suite 5, Antigua, Guatemala 03001 (+502-7832 2801; www.portahotelantigua.com).

An object I would never part with is an antique glass and silver vial that holds some of my grandfather’s ashes. My mother gave one little bottle each to me and my sister, and I cherish it. It sits on my bedside table and is a wonderful reminder of her.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is David Hockney – he’s the artist who probably had the most profound impact on me, so I would love to have several of his simple, iconic works, including The room, Tarzana. I’d also like to collect Picasso’s very classical white sculptures from the 1930s, as well as Henri Matisse’s later paintings. www.hockneypictures.com. www.henri-matisse.net. www.picasso.fr.

Maison Kitsuné in Tokyo
Maison Kitsuné in Tokyo

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a beautiful 19th-century linen kimono from Kyoto. I collect textiles, and this faded robin’s egg-blue robe looks almost modernist. I keep it in a drawer, but I like to pull it out from time to time to just look at it. Gallery Kei, 671-1 Kueninmae-cho, Teramachi Ebisugawa-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0993 (+8175-212 7114; www.gallerykei.jp).

My favourite room in my house is our bedroom in New York. It is covered in a fabric called Perry’s Arrows that I designed myself, which has a pattern resembling the quiver on an arrow in shades of indigo, grey and pale yellow – even the headboard is upholstered in it. There’s also a very cool cabinet by South African designers Dokter and Misses that’s hulking and beautiful. I love the light and the quiet in this room. www.dokterandmisses.com. www.rpmillerdesign.com/perrys.

The person I rely on for personal grooming is Sarah Mills for my haircuts – she works on her own, out of a loft in Tribeca, and I have been known to schedule my travel around her. I am also a regular at Jivamukti, the yoga studio in Union Square. Jivamukti Yoga, 841 Broadway, Suite 2, New York, NY 10003 (+1212-353 0214; www.jivamuktiyoga.nyc). Sarah Mills Hair, 11 Worth Street, Suite 2B, New York, NY 10013 (+1212-941 8552; www.sarahmillshair.com).

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The site that inspires me is Big Sur, on California’s central coast. The American West is everything to me, and I love how the mountains meet the Pacific Ocean, the dryness of the hills, the towering oak trees and the magical light found in this part of the world. The Post Ranch Inn is an amazing, luxurious place to stay: secluded, sleek rooms are perched on the side of a cliff and offer expansive views of the ocean, and the fresh Californian cuisine is wonderful as well. 47900 Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920 (+1831-667 2200; www.postranchinn.com).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the area around Aoyama in Tokyo. Maison Kitsuné is a predominantly Paris-based label but with Japanese spirit, so I like to visit its Tokyo store, as well as Undercover for its well curated menswear. I go to Imabari for beautiful towels; I always stock up on the waffle-woven and cotton-terry varieties, as well as the simple white robes. And no visit to Tokyo is complete without a visit to Morita for antique and vintage textiles. There are so many treasures there – from 18th- to 20th-century Japanese fabrics, to textiles from India and elsewhere. Imabari, Minami Aoyama, 5 Chome-3-10 Min Aoyama 1070062 (+813-8985 23730; www.imabari-towel.jp). Maison Kitsuné, 3-15-13 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062 (+811-2066 7588; shop.kitsune.fr). Morita, 5-12-2 Minami-Aoyama, Minato ku, U-Bahn (G02, C04), Omotesando (+813-3407 4466). Undercover, 5-3-22 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku 107-0062 (+813-3407 1232; www.undercoverism.com).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a cook. I grew up with a mother and grandmother who were adventurous cooks so I learnt from them, and I’ve always loved fresh local ingredients. I’m from California, so I gravitate towards the cuisine of Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, but I also enjoy cooking Persian, Mexican and Indian dishes. Yotam Ottolenghi is a favourite from my time living in London, and his restaurants are always my first stop when I return. Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709 (+1510-548 5525; www.chezpanisse.com). Ottolenghi Belgravia, 13 Motcomb Street, London SW1 (020-7823 2707; www.ottolenghi.co.uk) and branches.

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