I lived in Japan for the first two years of my marriage, where I developed a fondness for Asian antiques. The first thing we bought for our grown-up apartment was the 18th-century Chinese wallpaper in our dining room. I convinced my husband that I was saving him money on art by splurging on the wallpaper and he went along with it! We also bought a 17th-century screen showing an amazing view of Kyoto. As we traveled more throughout Asia, we acquired pieces from India, Cambodia and Tibet. The last thing I bought was a 13th-century Buddha in Japan, which sort of sums it all up for me–it’s the embodiment of tranquility.
PHOTO COURTESY ELLIE CULLMAN
Even before I realized I was a classicist, I was drawn to souvenirs of the grand tour — items collected by well-heeled European tourists of the 18th century as a memento of their cultural journey. Growing up as part of the Hampton family, my sister and I began our own grand tours at 10 and eight, respectively. Of everything we took in through travel, gelato not included, I was especially drawn to ancient Rome and Greece, and their antiquities. Today my collection includes columns, urns, intaglios, obelisks, busts and, my favorite, tempiettos! To me, the pieces are imbued with talismanic magic, reminding me of youth, family, feeling sophisticated and scholarly, and my first experiences of the world outside of my immediate, familiar surroundings.
PHOTO: VICTORIA STEPHENS
FRANK DE BIASI
In my background working for Christie’s and Peter Marino, I was exposed to high-quality antiques I could never afford. Over the years, I started buying things I liked at flea markets or galleries when I could. One area of recent ongoing interest is North African vintage photography from the 1860s through the turn of the last century. When photography was first developed in the mid-19th century, people went out with their cameras and tried to document life in an almost National Geographic kind of way. I love to travel, and these photos never fail to draw your eye into their world with their sepia tones.
PHOTO: CARMEL FASANO BRANTLEY
I collect so many things that my house is a maximalist explosion. I’ve collected African currency, Russian icons and, lately, Henri Matisse-style odalisque paintings. But my favorite collection of all is the most personal: From the time my oldest son was four through his mid-20s, he would climb trees and, if he found an abandoned bird’s nest, he would give it to me. I have 30 nests in all displayed on little stands. He knew I loved nature; it was a special thing that we had together as mother and child, which I’ll always cherish.
PHOTO COURTESY MICHELLE NUSSBAUMER
OLIVER M. FURTH
As a native Angeleno, I’ve always had a passion for the work of California ceramicists. I buy works by contemporary makers like Adam Silverman and Ben Medansky, and vintage 20th-century pottery by Laura Andreson and Beatrice Wood. There’s a beautiful intimacy in the journey from one person’s hands to another’s that you can’t really replicate with any other material. Peter Voulkos is credited for cracking the mold on ceramics and changing it from utility to sculpture, so I think ceramics are a big part of our creative history in Los Angeles.