Chai Style Homes: Liz and Jeff Reprise South Beach Roots
ArtsChai Style Homes

Chai Style Homes: Liz and Jeff Reprise South Beach Roots

Morningside residents Liz Lapidis and Jeff Levy collect art they love in a Mid-century modern home overlooking the woods.

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). On the side, Marcia is Captain of the Senior Cheerleaders for the WNBA Atlanta Dream.

Photos by Duane Stork // Liz and Jeff relax in their Mid-century modern living room with hamster, Chester, and dog, Pinkie, nearby. The white figure on the left, “Silhouette,” is by local photographer Harriet Leibowitz.
Photos by Duane Stork // Liz and Jeff relax in their Mid-century modern living room with hamster, Chester, and dog, Pinkie, nearby. The white figure on the left, “Silhouette,” is by local photographer Harriet Leibowitz.

Envision a free-wheeling romp visiting Hollywood’s Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.

For the first time, Chai Style photographed a back-to-back shoot on both “studio” lots: Liz Lapidus’ boutique public relations office in Inman Park and her Morningside home, a stone’s throw away, shared with husband Jeff Levy. With A-list clients, Lapidus authentically carries the Mid-century modern design from her office to the couple’s glass-enclosed home.

“We have great feng shui here in the woods, yet we are yards from Virginia Highlands,” Levy said.

The couple seamlessly honors their rambunctious energy in a modernized historical setting perfected by legendary grandfather Morris Lapidus, the father of Miami Beach’s highly-recognizable and touted architecture.

Liz Lapidus poses in her office in front of an original portrait of her done by Bahamian Fahamu Pecou, known for his work in the hip- hop world. The Knoll desk is from her father’s law office in Miami.

Jaffe: You have a rocking PR agency. What’s that like?

Lapidus: Running a PR firm is a full-time endeavor, and no two days are alike. The 24-hour news cycle, combined with the constant demands of social media, make it an exciting time to be in the business. We work with clients in a range of industries from hospitality to real estate development, retail, health and beauty and nonprofits, and we get to interact with smart and interesting people. It’s a creative business, which I love. And you get to have your finger on the pulse of the city.

Jaffe: Jeff, you two dovetailed into this home. How does it make you feel?

Levy: Peaceful, but not stagnant. Our collections are very complimentary. It fits together well at the end of the day. Over time we will trade out older pieces to bring in the new.

Lapidus won the large central photograph “Suicide Revenge” in a raffle. The chairs are by Knoll. The chandelier is from Artemide Lighting. The art over the fireplace by Scott Ingram, “Drippers,” is crafted with nail polish.

Jaffe: You work and live near the Atlanta BeltLine. How do you use it?

Lapidus: We love the BeltLine! From its inception as then-architect Ryan Gravel’s proposal that landed on my friend Cathy Woolard’s desk when she was on City Council, to what it has become today, which is game-changing for the city, is nothing short of a miracle. We’ve worked on the BeltLine’s arts initiative and launched a real estate project for it, but mostly I love to walk the block or two from my office and just carve out an hour to explore. I get so much inspiration from it. I also enjoy meeting friends with offices in the neighborhood for a walk meeting instead of, say, a coffee or lunch meeting.

Art consultant Fay Gold found this Israeli sculpture by Boaz Vaadia for the couple. The sketch above is it by Harry Callahan, “Grasses.” Vaadia also designed the pedestal.

Jaffe: You are known as an avid equestrian. How did that evolve?

Lapidus: I’ve ridden since I was a young child. I was simply born with a passion for horses. I stopped riding when I went to college and picked it up again nearly 20 years ago when I started at Chastain Horse Park. We’re so lucky to have a stable in the heart of Atlanta that provides not just a convenient and excellent facility for folks like me, but also therapeutic riding for people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Watching someone get out of a wheelchair and onto a horse is breathtaking.

Jaffe: Your grandfather Morris Lapidus, a Russian immigrant who lived until age 98, was the neo-baroque architect who literally defined Miami Beach’s buildings. What are your memories of him and what of his did you inherit?

Eccentric Acrylic Duo by Tony Hernandez in tomato red tones.

Lapidus: My grandfather was a famous hotel architect the 1950s and 1960s, known for designing the Fontainebleau, Eden Roc and Americana. I used to visit him and my grandmother in their postmodern-designed Miami Beach apartment with mother of pearl walls, Lucite furniture and a winding staircase lined with uplit Venetian glass. It was fabulous.

“Spacematic Gun Art” by James Booth in Liz’s office space was from the Mumbo Jumbo restaurant.

After a successful career, he retired in relative obscurity. Then, when I graduated from college in the early 1990s, there was a resurgence of his popularity in Europe. Someone had written a book on him and he was to receive an award. My grandmother had just died and, since I didn’t yet have a job, I got to travel with him. What a gift! We visited London, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and that was the beginning of a great friendship. For the remaining years of his life, we would spend hours over dinners, and I got to hear him speak at Yale and join him at a dinner, where he received an American Original award from the Smithsonian. He was a brilliant storyteller and I learned so much from him. When he died, I inherited some of his original artwork, and of everything in my collections, that’s my favorite.

Equestrian Lapidus set up this tongue-and-cheek shot of a horse admiring a horse for an ad campaign.

Jaffe: How would you describe your design style? What are some of the most unusual pieces you have?

Lapidus: Some of my favorite pieces include my father’s rosewood and marble Knoll desk and credenza, a signed Philippe Starck plastic “Bubble Sofa,” and both the Noguchi coffee table and Knoll Womb chairs that my husband Jeff Levy and I both owned. (Note the expression about great minds running in the same channels.)

Jeff’s collection includes this stunningly overwhelming photograph of Karl Lagerfeld’s library by Todd Selby.

Jaffe: You and Jeff combined collections. How did you integrate his photography collection?

Lapidus: We combined Jeff’s black and white photography with my contemporary art collection. We both came together with Mid-century modern furniture. I love collecting vintage and new furniture from the 1950s and 1960s. Now I’ve learned to love his taste and he, mine.

These individual sketches done by Morris Lapidus in Liz’s office were used to create the masterpiece of the large oil painting at home.

Jaffe: If you could wake up tomorrow and have one new piece, what would it be?

Lapidus: A piece from André Kertész’s “Distortions” series. The work was created at a time when he fled Paris during World War II and settled in New York to a rather cool reception from the art world. He used a fun house mirror to create distorted black and white images of nudes. The work is available at Jackson Fine Art.

Photos by Duane Stork // Morris Lapidus gave Lipidis this original oil of pianist Arthur Rubinstein in concert performing for friends and family.

Jaffe: What advice would you give to young folks just starting to collect art?

Lapidus: Jump in and collect what you love. I don’t think I ever intended to collect art, per se. I just bought what I loved.

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