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brick apartment unit

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Krista Mileva and Jared Frank have become so accustomed to their bicoastal relationship that, this spring, they’re having two weddings. The first: an intimate family gathering on the East Coast, close to Massachusetts, where Mileva is currently enrolled in MIT’s History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program. The second will take place in Los Angeles, where Frank lives and runs his eponymous interior design firm, Jared Frank Studio. “I think it’s very representative of us…that we’re having long-distance weddings,” says Mileva. 

wood dining table

Farstrup Møbler Shaker Dining Table, Pamono; Dining Chairs and Lamp, Rhett Baruch; Raymon Elozua Bowl, Leland Little Auctioneers; Stilux Milano Chandelier, Chairish; Pots and Pans, Caraway.

With the exception of the pandemic bringing them together under Frank’s roof for a few months, the couple has largely been apart since they met in 2017. Once she wrapped her undergrad studies, Mileva moved to the U.K. to get her master’s at Cambridge, and then, in 2020, moved to the other Cambridge (the one just outside of Boston) to secure her Ph.D. Now three years into her five-year program, what keeps the pair most connected is her airy, modern apartment: It was designed by her fiancé. “Even when he isn’t there, I see these objects he chose knowing I would appreciate them, and it feels like he’s with me,” says Mileva. 

white living room

Kerstin Horlin-Holmquist Paradise Sofa, Wright Auction; Coffee Table, Bartons Auctions; Candlesticks, Adam Edelsberg; Paavo Tynell Floor Lamp, DWR; Pendant Lamp, Noguchi Museum; Rug, Nordic Knots; Curtains, Mokum; Curtain Rods, Morgik Metal.

They did happen to be together in L.A. when the apartment hit the market, and they needed to make a decision ASAP. Mileva’s broker offered them a lo-fi FaceTime tour of the listing. “She didn’t have Internet, so it was on 3G, and every time she showed a window, it would blow out [the picture],” recalls Frank. But they didn’t need a ton of visual reassurance: On paper alone, they could tell it was a gem. The Georgian Revival building was designed in 1922 by Hamilton Harlow, an MIT-trained architect, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But this particular unit had another layer of history to it—it had been remodeled in the late 1970s by Harlow’s son, who added oak built-ins and terracotta tile, and essentially ditched the interior hallways to create a sense of flow. 

curvy mirror

Mirror, Bower Studios.
paper wall light over desk

Tobias Scarpa for Flos Wall Light, Lumens; Albert Tormos Lamp, eBay; Eames Desk Chair, DWR; Vase, Frank Lloyd Wright.

The apartment’s layout was also a major draw. It had windows looking out onto a front courtyard and a back garden—an unusual arrangement for Cambridge’s residential buildings. Every single room had views and access to light, essentials for the two Angelenos. They didn’t need to see the unit in real life to know it was the perfect fit. 

While Frank’s primary residence in Silver Lake is busy inside and out (the walls are swathed in intricate frescoes; the streets are lined with hip restaurants and concrete), he wanted Mileva’s Cambridge home to feel quiet and cozy. “The interiors of the apartments are opposites,” notes Frank. “She’s there to come up with original ideas, to think about things that are not necessarily around her.” 

white living room

Corner Light, Noguchi Museum; Bruno Mathsson Lounge Chairs, Bukowski’s Auctions; Ceramic Vases by Curt Addin, collected at Westport Auction and Etsy; Michael Graves Clock, eBay; lbert Tormos Sculpture, eBay; Art by Giorgio de Chirico, A.H. Wilkens Auctions & Appraisals.

For the designer, that translated to a light-filled, uncluttered space. In the living room, he painted the walls and ceiling the same creamy tone and went as “white as one wants to go” with the rug. Frank used the windows to his advantage, adding sheer curtains and two Isamu Noguchi lanterns to diffuse a warm glow. “It’s really difficult and funny when you tell an electrician you want to put a pendant in the corner,” he says. It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by the works of a mid-century design icon when you happen to be writing a paper on organic forms in the postwar era, Mileva points out. “Being among these lanterns is so inspiring and wonderful,” she says. 

zen bedroom

Pendant Lamp, Svenskt Tenn; Santiago Roqueta Lamps, Santa & Cole; Art Deco Nightstands, 1stDibs.
wood dresser

Rudolf Frank Dresser, Vntg; Russel Wright Mirror, 1stDibs; Stool, Another Country; Bronze Sculpture by Adam Edelsberg.

These days, though, her doctoral work is focused on the history of grottoes (she just started curating her first gallery show on the topic for the Marta gallery in Los Angeles). The framed Giorgio de Chirico lithograph over the fireplace, which Frank picked up at an auction, is a direct nod to her research, with the Surrealist scene showing men and women gathering in rocky pools. Meanwhile, the sculptural lamps on the bookshelves reminded her of something one might have found in architect and designer Gae Aulenti’s modern Amalfi Coast cave home back in the 1970s. 

woman sitting next to art

Painting by Doug Trump, Westport Auction.
desk with black lamp

Desk, Another Country; Bertha Schaefer Chair with Gio Ponti Fabric; Vintage Desk Lamp, Christian Dell.

“It was nice to be able to give her a space worthy of the work she’s pursuing,” Frank says. “There’s this assumption that all that’s needed are books and a table, and I don’t believe that.” 

For many couples in long-distance relationships, nightly FaceTimes and airline miles are how they show they care. But for Mileva, it’s in the Bruno Mathsson Pernilla chairs that wrap her like a warm hug and the Tobias Scarpa wall light that keeps her company when Frank isn’t there. 

The Goods

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