Joe Ginsberg: A Master with Materials

Joe Ginsberg is talking by phone from his 2,500 square-foot studio in the Garment District in Midtown Manhattan.  The self-described painter, sculptor and materials specialist is cataloging the sheer breadth of the items surrounding him.  There are, he says, bronzes, brasses, fabrics, canvases, metal screenings, hand-blown glasses, cast steel and aluminum, as well as an assortment of fabrics and a new line of pillows for Barneys New York.  Then there’s the Nepalese rug collection.

“What inspires me,” says the man with the fine arts background from Pratt, the School of Visual Arts and Fashion Institute of Technology, “is nature and the street.  I get inspiration from the ethereal subjects that come in and out of daily life.”

He strives to say something new with his interiors.  He likes the patina of Old World materials like stucco and hand-carved mahogany.  But mostly, he likes materials that speak when you pay attention to them, then go away when you don’t.

When he takes on a job like Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel, he says, he looks at the client requirements and then calculates how many notches he can take it up.  “I want to keep to the budget, but challenge myself to keep it alive and fresh, so I’m enthralled to create a new piece of work.”

For the lobby, lounge and bar area at the hotel, he created a honed, hand-felt luxurious set of finishes all the way ‘round, using an urban baroque aesthetic and warm, rose- and  gray- and colored stucco walls infused with crushed crystals to create a sultry atmosphere and refract the light of a Venetian chandelier.

When it came time to restore Paul Rudolph’s space at 23 Beekman Place on the Upper East Side a few years ago, he stayed true to Rudolph’s high-contrast and reflective interior.  The glass-infused space was restored to its original provocative design, though Ginsberg did impose a touch of his own techniques with new and progressive architectural materials.

More recently, he’s been engaged in developing a new line of contemporary furnishings called the Tempo Luxury Home Collection.  It includes tables, lighting, ceiling fixtures and hand-blown glass.  “I’m always experimenting,” he says.  “I like taking it on, having fun with it, and saying something new.”

And it shows. 

For more on Joe Ginsberg, go to

[slideshow id=343]