At Home with Peter Speliopoulos
A chat about the restoration of a home in Hudson.
Peter Speliopoulos is a longtime friend of the studio and frequent collaborator. He and Roman met via Isaac Mizrahi, who was Peter’s best friend at Parsons where they studied fashion together, and they are still great friends. Roman was working for Isaac when he had his amazing fashion label in the late 80’s, early 90’s, it was a very glamorous time! Roman and Peter reconnected later at Greybull Press with Lisa Eisner, of course! Steven and Peter worked together at Donna Karan New York in the mid 90’s when Peter was Senior Design Director and Steven was in Creative Services. They have all been friends ever since. After Donna Karen closed in 2015, Peter met up with Steven and Roman in Santa Fe and they were the first to support the idea of Peter’s idea to pursue the creation of ceramics and home objects — and Commune became his first customer.
We love your house, tell us a little bit about how you found it and how you ended up in Hudson Valley.
I acquired the house in 1991, after a long weekend with friends in the area. I was drawn to the eighteenth century stone houses of the region, and this one was beautifully sighted on a creek, and off the main roads. For decades it was a weekend house, an escape from busy city life. A peaceful place to hang out and read and listen to music, cook and invite friends over… But then, at the start of the pandemic, it became a refuge, a full time residence and it worked so well as a real house. I decided early on (in the pandemic) to create a studio in the cellar of the old stone house— which is a Dutch Huguenot house from 1725– and it was magical due to the inherent character of the old stone walls and of the dirt and stone floor! It had a door and window to the outside, opening to a wisteria covered pergola. It has a lot of charm and it is perfect, a simple functional ceramics studio!
How has your design practice influenced the interior design?
It all comes full circle! As an adolescent, I spent a lot of my free time designing houses and buildings, drawing plans, and i wanted to be an architect. I almost went to Architecture school, but chose to study fashion instead. All of my creative work is connected via my passion for materiality— which I think was rooted in my early days of researching architecture, exploring fashion, my absolute love of fabrics, fashion design and now creating ceramics. I am a very tactile person, I love the touch of things, the mystery one feels running ones fingers over surfaces. I have a collectors’ spirit… The interior is a collection of things, old and new, and I love that. The house itself has so much soul, the decor is really a response to that!
What kind of colors are you attracted to?
Sometimes I think I could love every color at the right time! So much depends on the fabrication of the color, the way it is dyed or painted. I tend to like moody, soulful colors in interiors that register a worn or aged quality. And in my ceramics too— I prefer eroded surfaces and matte colors, natural mineral shades. But then, I love rich Renaissance colors, Giotto blues and cardinal reds, malachite greens and ochres. Safe to say, I like natural pigment colors, not synthetic colors.
Are there any shops that you frequent when looking for furniture?
Fortunately or unfortunately, furniture is now “everywhere,” thanks to the internet! During the pandemic, I got addicted to the auction houses, who have really beefed up their sites, such amazing new worlds opened up! So wonderful to see the amazing interiors one sees on Instagram, both historic and contemporary— I am learning a lot!
When restoring an old house, did you have to find any antique building materials?
The original house is 18th century, and it was amazingly intact, with all the original floors and woodwork, and subsequent restorations were gentle. It was more about making the spaces feel a bit more clean, pure… fresh. An addition was created in 1995 with the help of Jim Joseph of Hottenroth Joseph, and Jim has a natural instinct for historic restoration. We decided on a more 19th century feeling for the addition, and for that we located beautiful antique wood floors and bricks, and referred to historic details. All of the ironwork, hinges, doorknobs, pulls, etc., were created custom for the house from historic documents.
Tell us about your pathway to ceramics, has your home influenced them at all?
I began studying ceramics in Patmos, Greece, during my summer holidays, with a local potter and friend, Ritsa Eliou, around 2011. For just a few weeks a year... But when Donna Karan New York, where I was Creative Director, was closed, I took it as a signal to pursue my ceramic passion, and began studying with two teachers in New York. At the end of 2018 I created Peter Speliopoulos Projects, focusing on my ceramics and designing a collection of home objects, handmade in Italy. I live in a world of objects! With the same guiding principles of tactility and organic form as in my ceramics, I create pieces to provoke the senses, with a respect for history and the forward motion of modern life.
What influenced your work for the latest batch of ceramics that you made for the shop? What inspired these glaze colors, textures, and shapes? They are beautiful!
These pieces were made for Commune, and so I considered very much their aesthetic, and the environments they love and design. Embracing my passion for ceramics that look as if excavated from land and sea, with eroded and cracked surfaces, I explored a range of somewhat Asian shades— gentle matte greens and blues, or a luscious maroon… Combined with forms that are primitive/modern, they have the power and purity of natural “Ores.”
Shop Peter's work here.
Photos by by Chris Mottalini