Renowned for their unique creative vision, the storied careers of Adam Blackman and David Cruz are documented in their book entitled Beauty & Mischief: The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz. The duo spoke with Upscale Living magazine about how Blackman Cruz came to be and allowed us a look into their exquisite homes.
Adam & David, please tell us a bit about yourselves.
A + D collectively: We are two lucky guys from disparate backgrounds with dissimilar interests who found ourselves in the happy position of getting to search out our hearts’ desires for a living.
Did you have an influence in your youth that shaped your career path?
Adam: Actually, no. My original love was the theater, and while I can be drawn to dramatic pieces, my love for what I do came later.
David: Not at all. It all happened organically, and I fell into this career.
How did you end up in business together?
A + D collectively: We were both established dealers at the time. We met and ended up sharing a space in an antique collective. Almost immediately, we recognized that our styles mixed in a unique way creating an interesting gestalt. And after 30 years, we still work the same way.
You specialize in antiques and collectibles.
A + D collectively: We like to say we sell ‘life enhancers’, meaning we sell whatever strikes our fancy, whether it be new or old, notable or not. We also design a line of furniture and objects under the Blackman Cruz Workshop mantle and represent the work of a diverse group of artisans and designers.
Please tell us more about your homes.
Adam: My wife and I have two homes, one in Los Angeles and one in Ojai. While the style of each is mid-century modern, their vibes are decidedly different. Our place in Ojai is more open, rustic, and casual while our LA home is more tree-house-like. We’ve had our home in LA for 25 years and our place in Ojai for almost 6 years. It took us nearly 15 years to restore our place in LA and we expect to spend the same time restoring our place in Ojai.
David: My LA home is a 1939 Paul Laszlo house that I got 20 years ago and every time I walk downstairs and look over the Hollywood landscape, I’m still grateful for living here. My San Miguel house is a pastiche of old and new. Its restoration has been equally challenging as it has been rewarding.
How would you best describe your design style?
Adam: We’re not ones to follow trends. We are drawn to items that make a statement, particularly what we haven’t seen before. We get pulled in by the craftsmanship of a beautiful carving or something monumental in scale or material.
Where / what / who inspires your design style?
Adam: We find inspiration in so many things – whether it be an aging tree stump or the work of an amazing designer or craftsman. We also love the rush we get from traveling because of the exposure to different ideas and histories. Touring a place like the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan by Piero Portaluppi stays with you.
How do you keep things fresh and new in terms of decorating?
Adam: I bring something new into the mix nearly every day. There are certainly items I’ll never part with, but I enjoy letting spaces evolve. My wife and I also subscribe to the concept of ‘trading up.’ Rather than getting hung up on finding that perfect piece for a specific space, we live with something for a while and then change it up when we see something we like better.
David: I don’t think it’s necessary to keep things fresh. I think it’s necessary to keep things consistent and keep my interests alive.
Is there a specific color you are drawn to in interior design?
Adam: Not consciously. We prefer natural tones to white or black, but we’re not opposed to a pop of bright color in the mix.
Do you believe in repurposing?
A + D collectively: Absolutely.
Do you have any special heirloom pieces?
Adam: I do. My grandmother’s Sarouk rug from her home in the Bronx has a special place in our home in Ojai. We also have a number of pieces from my wife’s family, including a watercolor painted by her Great Grandmother.
David: I have my Uncle Billy’s 18th-century doors from his house in Northern Mexico that I just installed in San Miguel.
Which part of your home is your favorite?
Adam: That’s a hard one.
David: My favorite room in San Miguel is my bedroom overlooking the garden where I like to commune with nature.
In which part of your home do you spend the most time?
Adam: In LA, I would say the sitting room. In Ojai, I spend the most time in the garden.
David: I spend the most time in my yoga/office studio which has a wonderful view overlooking downtown Hollywood.
Do you have any designers that inspire you?
A + D collectively: Many … Rick Owens, Francoix Catreau, Carlo Scarpa, Louis Kahn, Carlo Mollino, Carlo Bugatti, Eileen Gray, Luis Barragan, Clara Porset. The list goes on.
Please tell us about your book: Beauty & Mischief – The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz.
A + D collectively: The process has been an unexpected pleasure, at times revealing, at times humbling. It has been wonderful to look back at our 30 years of blood, sweat, and tears and we are able to say unequivocally that we still love the thrill of the hunt.
A + D collectively: It’s important to know that beauty is intrinsically healing.