Tastemakers: Albert Leon Sultan

The artist behind Sultan Chic uses exotic materials to create fresh, modern looks.

Albert Leon Sultan
Morris Gindi Photography.

Albert Sultan is an explorer. The Elberon resident scours the globe for vintage furnishings with "good lines," refashions them with eye-popping upholstery and decorative painted finishes, and transforms them into novel pieces for homeowners, businesses and interior designers. The exuberant artist’s company, Sultan Chic (sultanchic.com), is known for using exotic materials to create fresh, modern looks.

We caught up with Sultan after meeting him at a trade show and then spotting his work at the Decor by the Shore showhouse in Deal.

What’s been keeping you busy lately?

I’m just back from Spain’s colorful melting pot of people, culture and design—and its fusion of periods, regions and patterns. I returned to my workshop excited to bring new color and style combinations to the furniture and spaces I create.

What inspires your design?

Anything and everything. I relish chance encounters with everyday but unusual objects. Fashion, particularly women’s shoes and jewelry, forms a core element of my creative ethos; good design is a nexus of beauty, function and humor.

Describe the Sultan Chic vibe.

My signature style is whimsical because I let my imagination roam. Furniture can be more than utilitarian; it truly can be a work of art. Everyday things can spark our creativity and invite our spirit to come out and play. A chair doesn’t have to be just a chair.

What do you look for in a vintage chair?

If a vintage or mid-century chair has stood the test of time, it deserves a new lease on life. Unfortunately, in this age of disposability, we are not attuned to see the soul of well-made but well-worn furniture. My work attests that beauty can be inherent in a chair’s shape and form, regardless of its current clothing.

And your clients understand this premise?

Not always. I recently designed a home and strongly felt that the living room needed linear elements to play off the geometric fireplace. I found the perfect pair of ’70s cubist club chairs, but my client didn’t share my vision. I gambled and purchased them anyway. After seeing the reupholstered chairs in the space, the homeowner was thrilled. That project confirmed that the right dialogue of line, scale and form can enliven an otherwise stoic space.

Is a cozy chair important in a guest room?

A plush, comfy chair is essential to any guest room because it softens the space and makes it a more intimate retreat. Including an unusual upholstered piece adds personality to the room and beckons guests to stay and relax.

What makes you weak in the knees?

Lush trims, colorful patterns and unusual scales of objects that celebrate style and life! Decorative details in architecture, furniture and clothing help personalize and humanize our surroundings. I tell my clients not to be afraid—be bold with color choices and unusual shapes, and they will create excitement in your home design.

Click here to leave a comment
Click to enlarge images
Read more Style & Shopping articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown