This story was originally published in the March 5, 2012 issue of New York Magazine.
I wanted it to look like Donatella Versace had designed an opium den in Chinatown; I designed it purely for entertaining,” says Richard Christiansen of the Grand Street rental he shares with film producer Jonathan Ferrantelli, a cat, two dogs, 21 exotic fish, and a rotating cast of up to 50 party guests a night. When he moved into the 1,000-square-foot space in 2010, Christiansen, the founder of ad agency Chandelier Creative, was used to a round-the-clock-party lifestyle, having resided at the Bowery Hotel for the three years prior. But the now-35-year-old disco-decade obsessive was ready to take on the role of host in a nocturnal lair all his own, and Chinatown felt right. “The neighborhood embodied what I love about New York: its lawlessness, its chaos, its microcommunities, its contagious enthusiasm, its creativity,” he says. Almost every night of the week colleagues, friends, clients, and neighbors swing by his home for martinis, conversation, and a club-quality sound system, on which Christiansen blasts everything from Vitamin String Quartet to Kylie Minogue. To create the loungelike vibe, Christiansen chose a strict color palette of black, silver, and occasional glints of red and an easy-to-dim lighting scheme. For furnishings, he sleuthed auction catalogues and eBay, reimagining finds as mood-evoking crowd-pleasers: A once-lima-bean-green banana-leaf bed from the eighties, for instance, now sits in dark-lacquered splendor behind an elaborate 1,000-pound fish tank. “There’s been a lot of Romeo and Juliet action, with people gazing at each other through the glass, around that tank,” he says, “but I never name names.”