Over the years, speaking to numerous artists, designers, entrepreneurs, and achievers, I have come to realise that we are truest to ourselves when we are six years old. I am using ‘truest’, a superlative adjective—which I rarely do—because, well, we are brutally honest to ourselves and others when we just start to know ourselves. We know what we want to become, whose footsteps we want to follow and what truly makes us happy. However, as we grow older (and hopefully wiser), we think and overthink our options, and our priorities shift gears. For most successful people though that little person’s dream is what matters the most. David Alhadeff is a fine example of that.
As a little boy, David would spend hours rearranging his room, building home for his Smurf figurines and had an eye for decorative objects. This art curator started young. “I would say that I didn’t choose my profession. I was compelled to take it up. The affinity for decorative art, architecture, interiors and design was engrained in me,” David tells us over the phone from his New York based gallery, The Future Perfect. As he went on to study art, not formally though, this autodidact understood that art has some very hard-lined impressions attached to it.
In 2000, after a wave of recession hit the world, David decided to move on from his e-commerce venture to a more structured project, never letting that little boy’s dream die on the alter of practicality. Three years later, he started his art gallery, The Future Perfect, to promote what has become a passion for him over the years in between his journey from an art enthusiast to an art curator to an art connoisseur—American contemporary art.
“It was an uphill task to make people understand the essence of contemporary art by American artists. It’s been 16 years since but I remember most people I met telling me how audacious it was of me to show them those works and call them art. They sounded shocked,” David recalls. The next reaction, almost without fail, would be how could he call something art if it is not historic. It was still an outlandish idea to have contemporary artists finding their work next to the historic or modern art, and also selling. But, David was insistent, very persuasive, and made sure that he made an impression. And he did.
Something that started from a humble space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn has today grown into a giant with branches in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over the years, David has discovered some of the finest artists of our times to create a world of limited edition collectibles. “The Future Perfect has morphed and changed over the years, but has been rooted into the philosophy of furthering young talents, originality, working to push the envelope for design and art,” David says. At The Future Perfect, upcoming local talent shared the spotlight with international artists. But what about that little boy’s dream of a home that make everyone happy, you ask? It did take shape and how.
The seed for the idea behind Casa Perfect came out of the snail-paced traffic of Los Angeles, where, according to David, everything is at a driving distance unlike New York. “I always wanted to work in Los Angeles. Not because I was tired of New York. In fact, New York is so intense; it’s like a shot in the arm. I needed some balance. But, on reaching LA I realised that it was a nonsensical market from a commercial point of view,” David says. Since, everything is far off, driving becomes imperative in LA. It was hard for David to fathom why would anybody stop at a location to buy anything. “I didn’t know how and why to start an art gallery, when leaving home means several miles of driving in the traffic,” David says.
The idea of having a home instead of a studio or a gallery sounded more practical to him. Casa Perfect was, thus, born in 2016. And as they say, when in Hollywood, do as the stars would do. David set up Casa Perfect in a house in Beverly Hills’ Trousdale Estates that was once a home to singing sensation, Elvis Presley. He sourced some of the most exquisite home enhancement accessories and invited his first set of patrons, not as buyers but as houseguests, over conversations and champagnes.
“I have tried to create a social experiment where no one comes with a pressure of buying nor do I have to succumb to the pressure of selling. It is all about creating an experience. I soon realised that this experiment will be great in New York too because it has a very evolved audience with a discerning taste level. Casa Perfect is meant for those who have seen it all.’’ His New York home located in five-story townhouse at a tree-lined street in the West Village was designed by British architect David Chipperfield.
At this appointments-only space, guests can spend hours having conversations with other artists, collectors, design aficionados, and of course David. And then there are house and pool parties where the designs are showcased, designers are discussed and everything that you see in the house can be bought. “Since I live in these homes, I love to have people over who do not necessarily come to buy but to just have conversations. The idea is to break the norm of entering a store to buy things,” David says.
Showcasing works of designers such as Reinaldo Sanguino, Shore Rugs, John Hogan, Dimore Studio, Lindsey Adelman, Eric Roinestad, and Jonathan Cross to name a few, Casa Perfect is where an art connoisseur wants to be. We wondered if David feels that the line between his personal and professional lives are blurring. “I don’t find it challenging as a concept, but it isn’t very easy for my husband, Jason Duzansky,” David says with a soft laughter. The concept feels very intimate to David, but there is a flip side to it. “It also means that we have to be very careful around the house, and everything has to be clean and in order. Sometimes, people tell me that it looks like no one lives here. And then I just open one of my closets with my lineup of Jimmy Choo shoes,” David adds.
For David, Casa Perfect has been transformative, both professionally and personally. With a goal to represent original ideas and works, David is now working with various artists and showcasing their work through exclusive shows. Romancing The Stone by Chen Chen and Kai Williams at Casa Perfect New York; Chair show at the New York gallery by various artists; works of Seung Jin Yang with Bower at Casa Perfect Los Angeles and John Hogan at The Future Perfect San Fransisco. At Design Miami and Art Basel, he will be representing Floris Wubben and Kristin Victoria Baron.
While giving a makeover to the house is a great way to bring in novelty, we do get attached to certain things—a piece of furniture, an artwork, even an ash tray over time, how does David feel, we ask? “I do get attached to pieces but only for a limited period of time. But then if I feel a certain pull towards someone’s work, I am more likely to sell it. I have the opportunity to live with the work of artists who I love and also have the ability to fluidly share it with the world,” David says. Point taken.