Mark Haddawy wasn’t born a stylish man about town, zipping through the Hollywood Hills in the 1964 Ferrari Steve McQueen used to drive, his rocker-skinny frame clad, more often than not, in Dior Homme and limited edition Nikes. Through the second grade, Haddawy’s German-born mother dressed him in lederhosen — “you know, those leather shorts with suspenders?” After that it was hand-me-downs from his two older brothers, always floods, because the youngest Haddawy was also the tallest. “It’s really funny that I have anything to do with fashion at all,” laughs the owner of Resurrection Vintage, whose New York and L.A. stores boast some of the best collections of ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s couture and streetwear in the world.
Still, oblivious though she may have been to the wrath of grade school kids in Reno, Nevada, Haddawy’s mother was also the kind of woman who considered a Picasso vase an appropriate gift for a young boy, and she helped instill in her son a passion for art. Today the vase sits on a shelf in the living room of Haddawy’s new home, a painstakingly restored John Lautner house along the Mulholland corridor. Built four years before the neighboring Chemosphere house – and the reason Lautner was hired for that project – the Harpel house, completed in 1956, is set on a flat lot cut into the granite hillside. An elongated suite of glass, stone, and wood with breathtaking mountain views from every room, the house has the feel of what Haddaway calls a “modernist ski lodge”: it’s warm and inviting, with an earthy solidity that harmonizes with its surroundings.
“It’s a really interesting mix of nature and futurism,” observes Haddawy, surveying the house from its steep approach. “Everywhere you go you see the beams passing through the glass. In the bedroom you’ll see a big sheet of glass just dive into a stone wall.” For Lautner, an engineer, each design was site specific; aesthetic and function were of a piece. Haddawy notes that the grid of wooden beams and concrete columns over the main entrance isn’t merely decorative; it’s anchoring the house into the bedrock.
“I have a totally different respect for John Lautner now,” he says. “He really understood the site and I think he put a lot of thought into how to build here.” Even after months of living in the house, the sunrise – as framed by the architect – never ceases to amaze. “He very purposefully created these illusions, where you’re laying in bed and you feel like you’re floating in air.”
A year ago, the architecture aficionado (who is currently consulting on the restoration of Mark Seliger’s Neutra house) was only casually thinking about buying a new home. He and his girlfriend, the actress Nora Zehetner, were living in Laurel Canyon in Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 21, a modernist icon furnished with rare Scandinavian pieces that was auctioned, contents and all, this past December by Wright Auctions in Chicago. No wonder the gamine-like Zehetner says the experience was “kind of like living in a museum,” though she adds, “It was a great house for Mark as a bachelor.” It was not so great, however, for a couple that actually wanted to hang out at home. “If there was a sock on the floor it just killed the vibe,” chuckles Haddawy. The two began talking about moving, and were surprised at how quickly they found the perfect place. “We just pretty much immediately knew, even in the state that it was in, that this is where we wanted to live,” remembers Zehetner.
“Renovated” to the point of being barely recognizable, the house had a second story addition that Haddawy removed first thing (actually the first thing he did was throw a 4th of July bash – and then they really tore the roof off). Next he sat down with the blueprints and began the process of fabricating all Lautner’s original built-in pieces, including a 20-foot sofa and rotary cut red oak book shelves in the living room; freestanding kitchen cabinets and a cooking island suspended from copper pipes; and an octagonal aluminum-and-wire-glass skylight that required eight men to install. Occasionally the new owner took liberties – choosing concrete instead of formica for the top of the island, for example – but he thinks Lautner would have approved. Plus, he notes, “had this been dead original when I moved in I never would have touched it.” Indeed, he went to great lengths to find a baby blue American Standard toilet to match the existing tub.
Throughout the house, the colors are natural and earth tones; even the polished concrete floors have a greenish cast. In the den, a 1988 train painting by L.A. punk artist Raymond Pettibon, whose work Haddawy collects, hangs above a moss green couch. “I bought that painting just as I bought the house,” he recalls, “and I kind of made this room around it, because the palette” – muted reds and blues and greens – “was so perfect.” The living room sofa is covered in the same moss green, a wool mohair from Maharam which Haddawy characterizes as “period appropriate, but not too retro.”
Katy Rodriguez, Haddawy’s partner in Resurrection and the new Katy Rodriguez clothing line, compares her friend’s methods to putting together the pieces of a puzzle. “Mark has such a strong sensibility,” she says. “When he gets into something it’s like he creates this ultimate vision in his mind, and then he tries to hunt down all those pieces to put the picture together.”
Haddawy’s father, a professor and tribal art collector with whom he lived in Istanbul and Cairo, was a huge influence, as was his uncle, a writer and art collector in Germany whose circle included Francis Bacon and Gerhard Richter. “I was never spoiled in the traditional sense,” says Haddawy. “I was just really lucky to get to see a lot of the world.” Choosing life experience over high school, he moved to Berkeley at 17, and was dealing pre-Columbian art by the time he was 21. He and Rodriguez opened Resurrection in a former funeral home in the New York’s East Village in 1996, and the L.A. store followed in 2000. “No matter what it is,” he notes, “my world’s always been stuff.”
On the staggered bookshelf in the living room, an 18th century Japanese lock sits beside a bronze incense burner from Luristan, circa 1000 B.C.; a Wallace Berman verifax is propped on a stack of books, and the Picasso vase from Mom holds a place of honor. Low Charlotte Perriand stools are casually grouped around a rare coffee table of hers from Africa; one of Jean Prouve’s Kangaroo chairs from 1951 (a date that Haddawy gladly double checks in a book) sits by the fireplace, and a vintage Gucci backgammon set leans against the stone. It all feels unstudied and organic, and that’s the point.
“The idea,” says Haddawy, “was to make this an easy place to live; that everything wasn’t so precious…you could come in from the pool dripping wet onto the floor.” He acknowledges that it’s “totally the opposite of the way I lived in my other house. But it’s how I want to live in this house.”
It seems like the puzzle pieces are coming together.