Chai-Style: A Brilliant Take on Frank Lloyd Wright

Chai-Style: A Brilliant Take on Frank Lloyd Wright

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

The Brill home in East Cobb is an artistic refuge created with style from the heart.

Yaron, an Israeli who stopped in Atlanta “on the way to Alaska with a pair of jeans, two quarters and no English,” built a company specializing in commercial interior contracting.

Robin, the vice president of fundraising for Congregation Etz Chaim and an avid volunteer at the Epstein School and Jewish Family & Career Services, wanted an open home with plenty of room for entertaining.

“We love clean lines and don’t like a lot of clutter, but we aren’t so orderly in the overall scheme of things,” Robin said. “We basically designed and built this home ourselves.”

Robin Brill and goldendoodle JoJo enjoy furniture by Mitchell Gold and Isamu Moguchi in front of the Israeli Menashe Kadishman’s animal painting.
Robin Brill and goldendoodle JoJo enjoy furniture by Mitchell Gold and Isamu Moguchi in front of the Israeli Menashe Kadishman’s animal painting.

Yaron added: “We like a variety of traditional and sentimental things … meaningful to us. We love finding a great piece of art in Israel or while traveling and incorporating family pieces throughout the house, like my creative sister’s own metal menorah sculpture.”

The bottom line is this house works. It is highly stylized and collected with subtlety and a whisper of color and craft.

Jaffe: What was your vision in constructing this house?

Brill: My husband and I collaborated and literally drew the layout on cocktail napkins at a restaurant. We wanted a California modern style with Israeli flavor and a dash of Florida, where I am from. It took over a year to build, and we had to negotiate with the neighbors, who were initially reluctant to accept the modern roofline. The front door is solid copper shipped from California. It’s a true mélange.

Jaffe: The stone is so Frank Lloyd Wright. Was he your inspiration for the natural elements?

Brill: Yes. We used the stacked stone on the interior to flow with the exterior — even outside by the pool — then African slate, cement and faux painting to tie it all together. The concrete floors are stained and abstract — see where olive, tan and rust come together? We had the teak table made in Israel (with a hidden drawer for kippot). The lighting theme throughout is an interpretation of discarded water cups from Venetian glass workers in Italy.

Jaffe: I love the openness of the kitchen. How do you use it?

Brill: Yaron is amazing in the kitchen, and we both love to entertain. His chicken kabobs are legendary, as is his Israeli repertoire: baba ghanoush, hummus and salads galore. Every Friday family and friends are here for Shabbat. … We really do love to have a full house. Yaron built the pizza oven near the pool; our three sons love having their friends over for homemade pizza. The cabinets are cherrywood, and the “Eat, Eat, Eat” sign is in homage to our Jewish roots.

Jaffe: The salon/great room has much culture, history and simplicity.

Brill: The fireplace is centered on Yaron’s great-grandfather’s toolbox from Poland. The glass collection is Kosta Boda, the furniture Mitchell Gold, the table Isamu Noguchi. The petrified wood was a find at PierceMartin. The collection of drawings from Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman was a wedding gift from my sister. A few things are from the Scott Antique Market. We like to mix it up. I treasure this Agam glass hologram, which is juxtaposed by the incoming light.

Jaffe: The cozy TV room/den room houses some very well put-together children’s work.

Goldendoodle JoJo stretches by the pool’s commercial-grade pizza oven.
Goldendoodle JoJo stretches by the pool’s commercial-grade pizza oven.

Brill: All three of our sons went to the Epstein School, and you can really see the evolution of their individual art, like the egg crate family as we added JoJo, our goldendoodle. Note the corner with the Mid-Century lamp next to Yaron’s grandfather’s mixed-media creation depicting workers in the fields in Hadera, where his family resides in Israel, using small pieces of felt and real sand and straw.

Jaffe: How would you describe your taste in art?

Brill: No formulas, but we both have the same taste. When we love something, we both love it instantaneously. We especially like acquiring art through charity and bought this Penley of Marilyn Monroe at an Epstein auction. The Peter Max is his self-portrait. We know when we see it. Yaron’s most favorite pieces came from his trips to Cuba. He even went to the artist José Fuster’s home. He also loves the movie “Pulp Fiction” and has an iconic painting from the movie by Marco Toro. My favorite is the entrance’s facing duo of Israeli artist Sara Tandet-Ron. Local artist Susan Roberts’ diptych “Tectonic Shift” is a real attention-grabber as well. This oil was a gift from a patient at New York’s Bellevue Hospital to my father. Across from it is a toilet paper original oil by Morris Katz — the Guinness world record holder for world’s fastest painter!

Jaffe: Toilet paper painting? You seem to have a penchant for commodes and unusual bathrooms.

Brill: Well, there are four men in the house! The most fun toilet is this stainless-steel one from the California penitentiary system. Our rock ’n’ roll bathroom is focused around the Jeremy Deller art piece “What Would Neil Young Do?” The lower-level bath sink is a sloping cement-and-glass basin, and our master has a full standing Las Vegas-style shower.A Brilliant Take on Frank Lloyd Wright 7

Jaffe: Coming downstairs is magically overwhelming. It’s like a reversed loft with exposed beams.

Brill: This central wood beam anchors the house and was set by Yaron himself when we built. The ceiling is completely exposed: air ducts, conduit and all. The wine cellar and cigar room separate the “cigar/man cave” side of the basement from the game and fitness rooms, where we’ve hung old family photographs and our collection of cast-signed Broadway show posters. There are some fun, iconic things down here: framed sheets of money; 1940s pinup girl napkins flanking the bar; Atlanta’s own Dr. Scott Shulman’s original shellacked lazy Susan of Albert Einstein; and Captain America by Steve Kaufman, Andy Warhol’s former assistant and protégé, also signed by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics.

Jaffe: Yes, Wright would be proud. And the two separate yards are lovely.

Brill: We strove to have a livable space with meaningful tchotchkes and plenty of room for family and friends.

As Frank Lloyd Wright said: “I could do without the necessities of life if I had the luxuries.”

Photos by Duane Stork

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