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My Favourite Things: Alex Ohebshalom

The founder of The Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York, shares the stories behind his prized possessions.

Based in Grammercy Park, born-and bred New Yorker Alex Ohebshalom grew up around intriguing art, furniture and antiques from a young age.

This cultural DNA helped inform the aesthetic of the recently-opened The Fifth Avenue Hotel in NoMad on 28th Street, more than 100 years after the original Fifth Avenue Hotel closed its doors.

Ohebshalom, whose family has owned the Renaissance-esque building since the seventies, said it was important "to do something we could be proud of for the next 100 years". 

A passionate photographer and traveler, Ohebshalom's sense of style is just as strong in his home, which he decorates with an eclectic but curated mix of contemporary and modern pieces. Here he shares a few of his favourite things, and the stories behind them. 

Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstaette, Fabric Department Pendant 

I love this light for its simplicity but also for the attention it commands in our space. It adds a refined yet understated old-world elegance to an otherwise modern home, and does so without being too loud.

Alex Katz, Rose Bud 

An all-time beloved and favourite living artist with deep roots in New York, I am grateful just to be in Alex Katz’s company every day when I get home. I have always been deeply connected to nature, and have an affinity for flora as it embodies all of the love, passion and inspiration I have in my life. 

Michael Mapes, Baudelaire

Another New York-based artist, Michael Mapes’ portraits are collections of “observations” in themselves, intricate collages of photos and other objects pinned in place in the style of an entomologist’s insect collection. I commissioned this piece from Michael, as an ode to Charles Baudelaire, the inspiration behind much of The Fifth Avenue Hotel.

Many of the specimens composing this portrait include images of Baudelaire’s documented muses. If you look closely, you might even spot a few tiny tortoises—the symbol of The Fifth Avenue Hotel—inspired by the legends of flaneurs who strolled slowly, observing city life closely, with a tortoise on a leash.

Kader French Art Deco Armchairs

A good armchair is critically important! I love the juxtaposition of the classic French frame with the modern fabric from Pierre Frey. They are sleek, comfortable, and timeless. 

Robert Doisneau, Pablo Picasso et les petits pains, 1952

Photography has been my great passion and hobby outside of the work that I love. As a student of the game, I was always drawn to the great street photographers of the early 1900’s, namely Cartier Bresson, and Robert Doisneau. I have had this photograph that Doisneau took of Picasso with me through 16 years in New York City. It reminds me to keep things light at home, and to enjoy life to the fullest.

Louise Despont, Dilution

I am fortunate to have spent much time in central and southeast Asia, and have brought back with me many practices and ways of being. In this layered work by Louise Depsont, I love the ornate waves and swirls in blue, green, peach, and pink that overlap each other. Despont’s works take inspiration from the mandala and the physical practice of meditation, from Indian and Southeast Asian cultures and practices. She employs coloured pencil, graphite, architectural stencils, French curves, compasses, and rulers. She rubs coloured pencil with tissue until it begins to look like watercolour, mixing colours on the page. Just marvellous.

Pietro Sanguineti, Beyond 

We love this neon piece, not only visually, but because of its multilayered meaning and the feeling it evokes. This piece was given to us by a family member so it holds special value and a place in our hearts. It hangs in our living room but can be seen from the street as a beautiful light.