Anatomy of a Home

A Power Couple Creates an Oasis of Calm in the Los Feliz Hills

Interior designer Mike Powers and design writer Anthony Iannacci have turned their apartment on the 10th floor of a Los Angeles tower into a highly personal mid-century-modern-inspired retreat.

Author Anthony Iannacci (left) and designer Mike Powers pose next to a Harry Bertoia Diamond chair on the terrace of their apartment in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz Towers (portrait by Sam Frost). Top: The home’s living room features a mix of contemporary and mid-century pieces, including a Curtis Jeré coffee table and a Rodolfo Dordoni Hockney chaise, which he designed for Minotti.

Mike Powers and Anthony Iannacci have created three homes together in the decade that they’ve been a couple. This residential trio — in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles; New York City; and Provincetown, Massachusetts — shows off the couple’s flair for combining vintage furnishings with 21st-century art and design, but each place has a distinct personality. “I’m a firm believer that a space tells you what to do,” says Powers.

Fortunately, he speaks the language of space. Powers worked in the art department of Condé Nast Traveler before switching to interior design. He then climbed the ranks at Barbara Barry’s firm in L.A., followed by a stint in the West Coast office of Bill Sofield‘s Studio Sofield before launching his own firm in 2007.

Iannacci is no less fluent in design. While living in Milan for 11 years, he wrote reviews for Artforum and launched his own imprint of architecture and interiors books. Recent publications he’s penned include Fox Nahem: The Design Vision of Joe Nahem (Abrams) and Hollywood Interiors: Style and Design in Los Angeles (Monacelli). His next tome, featuring a collection of New York City designers’ and architects’ own homes, will be published by Abrams next year.

Nonetheless, Iannacci is happy to act as the de facto client in the couple’s renovation and decoration projects. “Mike and I are very much on the same page about most things when it comes to design,” he says. “But I tend to keep my input to broad, abstract notions like, ‘I love a banquette.’ If Mike agrees, we run with it.”

Their Los Angeles pad — on the 10th floor of the 14-story modular Los Feliz Towers, designed by Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall in 1966 —  has stunning views of Griffith Park and Observatory. But Powers and Iannacci had to overhaul the rooms of their light-filled aerie to create the stylish yet unpretentious home they have today. They left only the terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows intact. “The building was great. The apartment had a good basic layout, and we fell in love with the view,” Powers says. “But all the interior finishes and details were less than you would expect.”

In Powers’s redesign,“the goal was to use a minimal number of materials repeated in different ways to unify the spaces and create a sense of calm,” he explains, defining his concept as “modern, in a mid-century way.” He used polished concrete, silver-hued travertine and American walnut millwork throughout, deploying an overall neutral paint palette. As for the furniture, he arranged it to maximize comfort, efficiency and easy entertaining.

Here, the couple brings Introspective on a tour of their welcoming — and sophisticated — abode.


Foyer

The original layout had no defined entryway. To correct this, Powers removed a coat closet near the front door and used half the resulting space to form a more ample entrance, with the remaining square footage added to an enlarged shower in the adjacent bathroom.

A walnut cabinet was custom built for the hallway, creating a place to display Iannacci’s vast collection of Royal Copenhagen china designed by Nils Thorsson.

“He owns almost every piece of Thorsson’s 870 Baca Fajance pattern from the 1970s,” says Powers, referring to the 100-plus dishes scattered among their homes. Iannacci rationalizes his obsessive acquisitions by insisting that collections are more valuable when they are comprehensive. “I have used that line many times on Mike,” he notes.


Living Room

“There’s a little bit of both our histories, but most pieces were purchased for the apartment,” Powers says of the living room’s decor. Such contemporary furniture as a biomorphic leather chaise from Minotti and a low-slung Charles sofa from B&B Italia mingle with vintage pieces like curved Tre Pezzi armchairs by Franco Albini and Franca Helg for Poggi.

“In 1984, when I got settled in Milan, I fell in love with the work of Franco Albini,” says Iannacci, whose prized armchairs were designed by the Italian Rationalist architect in 1959.

A poured-concrete wall in the living room, discovered after the space was gutted, is adorned with Jessica Rath’s 2012 photograph Clone with perseverance. Powers had the wall — which abuts the elevator shaft — polished, along with the concrete floors to form a consistent finish throughout the apartment.


Dining Room

The men like to cook and entertain. Their 1970s marble Angelo Mangiarotti table, purchased from L.A. dealer Thomas Hayes, comfortably seats six people and determined the size of the dining space.

Powers commissioned a custom banquette that echoes the B&B sofa in the living room, while the 1950s Viscount dining chairs by Dan Johnson were acquired from multiple dealers and shops. Taryn Simon’s 2005 photograph Ski Dubai adorns the wall, the only one in the apartment besides the poured-concrete one in the living room big enough to accommodate a large artwork.


Kitchen

Powers devised a galley-style layout for the kitchen, which he outfitted with stainless-steel Ikea cabinets. He paired those with a silver travertine countertop and backsplash, adding a walnut upper cabinet not unlike the one in the foyer to store their Heath Ceramics and more Royal Copenhagen pieces. On top of it, as a finishing touch, he placed a work on paper by Carl Ostendarp, two Peking glass vases from Robert Kuo and a vintage light given to them by Bill Sofield.


Bedroom

“We don’t bring mail or checkbooks into the apartment,” Powers says. All paperwork stays in an office he and Iannacci maintain on the first floor of the tower, to keep the home an oasis of calm. That serenity is perhaps best felt in the couple’s bedroom, where, Powers says, “the green headboard, the upholstery on the chair and the natural linen tones in the drapery and bedding were chosen to reference the colors of the hillside landscape,” seen through the windows.

Bookending the bed are brutalist Maurizio Tempestini table lamps manufactured in the 1970s by the Laurel Lamp Company. Positioned atop the set of drawers opposite the bed is a curated selection of objects, including ceramics by L.A. artist Ben Medansky, a lacquered box and a prototype of a lamp. Above them is a colorful abstract painting by the couple’s friend Steven Johanknecht, a partner in the L.A. design firm Commune. “I always think it’s important in any residence to have pieces that recall our history and lives,” Powers says.


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