Kara Ross’s world travels—and the artists and craftspeople she has met along the way—frequently inform the New York–based jewelry designer’s whimsical creations. Her adventures and encounters have also inspired her to amass an eclectic anthology of artworks, artifacts, vintage clothing, and curiosities that reflects her independent spirit. Many of the pieces—from python-covered candlesticks to larger-than-life Creamsicles—decorate the 81st-floor Time Warner Center penthouse that Ross shares with her husband, Stephen, a real estate developer and the owner of the Miami Dolphins.
What attracts you to a specific piece of art?
Art is a gut reaction to things you like or don’t like. Art should speak to you. We saw a Tim Berg popsicle series at a Miami art show, but we wanted them larger, and so we commissioned Tim to make a series of bigger Creamsicles for a wall in our apartment. I was drawn to this because I love the color orange, and I love that it was whimsical and fun. I would never buy super-serious art.
How do you discover lesser-known artists?
I’m open for new discoveries, and I don’t have boundaries. I saw Martin Megna’s studio in the back of a parking lot in the Hamptons, where he was blowing these amazing glass balls. I commissioned him to create glass balls with gold and platinum leaf for necklaces, and then I asked him to make a huge dining-room chandelier that is dripping with glass balls. At night the balls reflect the light off the window, and it looks like rain. He created a maquette for our front yard at our Hamptons house with giant glass balls that look like huge beach balls. Everything I buy is different, but if you buy and collect what you love, it all seems to fit together.
Speaking of glass, how do you find artwork suitable for your mostly glass penthouse?
We face Central Park, and I wanted to bring nature into the apartment, so I commissioned Kim Krans to make a series of papier-mâché tree trunks because they look so real. But I don’t look to fill a space. I’m fine living with a blank wall until I find the right thing. We liked Barnaby Furnas’s series on the Civil War and asked him to create something for a large wall in our apartment. I liked his use of strong colors like red and black. It’s super strong and impactful and works for this space. We bought it on the condition that we will eventually give it to the Guggenheim Museum.
How do you like to entertain?
I love entertaining and creating a table that is a visual feast. I hardly ever use flowers, but I use a mix of colors, textures, and scale to create something unique. I collect things in my travels like these large 100-year-old plates from Istanbul, and I had an artist cast lobster claws in bronze that were the bases for custom wine goblets. I love an eclectic mix on the table that might include python-covered candlesticks, wood placements, glass balls, or geode centerpieces.
What else do you collect?
I’ve been collecting vintage clothes forever. They are often made better than new clothes. I shop online for a lot of the clothes, and one of my favorite places to shop is London’s Kerry Taylor Auctions. I buy Emilio Pucci, Geoffrey Beene, Zandra Rhodes, and Shrimpton Couture, and I just bought a 100-year-old dress by the first female couturier, Jeanne Paquin.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love to travel anywhere, and to read a good book. I love dinner and a great bottle of wine with my husband, and having dinner parties with family and friends.