AT HOME WITH OBJET LA/NY
For both Jerry Gomez Galvis and his partner, Joaquin Molina, collecting art and vintage furniture comes from a place of wanting and loss. Both immigrants to the United States — Gomez Galvis came from Cartagena, Colombia, and Molina came from Monterey, Mexico — they lost all their familial objects in the transition to their new lives. "You don't even have the plates you ate on," Gomez Galvis says. He believes that his compulsion to collect — he jokingly calls it a disease — is an expression of losing everything and trying to find it again in objects. "My collecting is not at all about showing off," Gomez Galvis says. "We truly live with, and use, the items that we buy."
Gomez Galvis and Molina were both collectors already when they met in 2014. Gomez Galvis started collecting when he was in college when a friend of his family gave him a colorful surrealist painting from the modern era. He fell in love with the piece; to this day, Gomez Galvis says that taking his artwork to the framer is a form of therapy for him. Molina, who works in the fashion industry, most recently at LVMH, has always collected unique sartorial pieces. Collecting iconic furniture and home design became the pair's passion; inspired by their fashionable mothers, the objects they buy tell the stories of their life together. "We surround ourselves with things that we love," Gomez Galvis says. "Everything has a memory attached to it."
The pair do not let snobbery guide their collecting. Instead, they curate based on instinct. Their apartment in New York is an assortment of objects bought from dealers, auction houses, and consignment shops. For example, in one corner of the space, they combine a Charlotte Perriand stool with a side table from Anthropologie, a vintage Longchamp ashtray from 1950s France, and artwork by Robert Longo. In another, a midcentury modern Italian table with a sculpture by Evamarie Pappas, a vintage Gucci ceramic, and a painting the couple found at Housing Works, a consignment shop in Chelsea. The couple wants their home to be a place where their friends can come and accidentally spill a glass of wine on the sofa — even though their sofa is a vintage Soriano by Tobia Scarpa for Cassina that retails for a hefty price. "We truly live and use our items," Gomez Galvis says. Collecting is not a form of accruing wealth but a means of creating shelter from their busy lives as working professionals. "Our home is a safe space," Gomez Galvis says. "And it's the ultimate expression of who we are."
Taste, Gomez Galvis says, is individual. "To me, good taste has a little bit of bad taste in there, and good taste is eternal." The couple educate themselves constantly by reading books — they have two storage rooms full of art books — and going to museums. Through experience collecting, they've developed a passion for designers like Perriand, who worked for Le Corbusier and believed that her objects, while coveted by experienced collectors, should be mass-produced and used by the larger public. "She wasn't precious," Gomez Galvis says. "She said that it would be better to spend the day outside in nature than to spend it inside cleaning all your tchotchkes." Another one of the pair's favorite designers is Pierre Chapo, who was trained as a shipbuilder and worked primarily in wood. "His work is about a streamlined way of living and reducing ornamentation," Gomez Galvis says. Gomez Galvis notes that many of the pieces in their homes are Italian or French modernist. Given their backgrounds, they are drawn to art and design made in Latin America and objects that explore the use of color. "We think color can enhance your life," Gomez Galvis says.
Like any collector, Gomez Galvis and Molina occasionally find themselves with more objects than they could possibly need. In general, they try to follow the maxim that you should love the things you buy and collect, but not fall in love with them. When Molina temporarily moved to Los Angeles for a job, the pair took the opportunity to re-decorate their New York apartment after shipping some of their things to Los Angeles. When that job ended, and they found themselves with a surplus of goods, they decided to begin selling some of their possessions on Instagram under the moniker objet LA/NY. "A collector needs to deaccession to curate a fresh look," Gomez Galvis says. The couple's taste was so exquisite that the Instagram account became wildly popular and currently has over 111,000 followers. "Instagram has made design so accessible," Gomez Galvis says. "Algorithms can certainly limit you, but there's a bit of magic to them too."
Gomez Galvis says that it's easy to become a collector. All you need to do is buy what you love. But, if that sounds impossible, or if you don't even know enough to know what you love, Gomez Galvis says that you should educate yourself much like he has — by reading and looking. "If you love Art Deco, read up on everything about Art Deco," he says. In doing so, you will discover something that will inspire passion. He also notes that it's important not to be afraid to change your interests or your taste. "You evolve, and your taste evolves," he says. "Out with the old, in with the new."
Ultimately, good design should stand the test of time. "Be really discriminating," Gomez Glavis says. "Ask yourself, do we really see ourselves enjoying this thing in the long term?" Ultimately, what you collect for your home should be the purest expression of who you are. "When you're out in the world, you're shielding yourself," Gomez Galvis says. "Your home is the only place you can truly, truly express yourself."