In the early 1960s, as his career as an art director and graphic designer was taking off, George Lois and his wife, Rosemary, set out to find a larger home for their expanding family. The two ultimately fell in love with the brand-new Butterfield House in Greenwich Village, so much so that they ended up buying two apartments there.
It was a splurge back then. Units in the complex, at 37 West 12th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas, were going for around $28,000. But their third-floor apartments, combined into a sprawling loftlike space, would remain the couple’s home for the next six decades. They raised two sons there, enjoyed time with grandchildren and entertained numerous celebrities as Mr. Lois gained acclaim for his iconic Esquire magazine covers and witty advertising campaigns.
Measuring around 3,000 square feet, the full-floor home has four well-proportioned bedrooms and four full bathrooms, and off an enormous great room that takes up almost half the unit are two south-facing balconies, 8-by-8.5 feet each, enclosed with jalousie windows, a popular design feature in the 1960s.
The whole apartment still exudes a ’60s vibe, with its midcentury modern furnishings from the likes of Le Corbusier, Carlo Mollino and Josef Hoffmann, along with an eclectic art collection that included pieces from Africa, primitive masks and many of Ms. Lois’s paintings. (One of Mr. Lois’s favorite wall hangings was by the artist and graphic designer Tony Palladino; crafted from Venetian blinds, it displays an American flag on one side and the Greek flag on the other, a nod to Mr. Lois’s Greek heritage.)
“Everything was humanistic, well designed and functional,” Luke Lois, the Loises’ son, said of his parents’ décor, as well as just about everything in the apartment. Mr. Lois, 61, runs the advertising and design business Good Karma Creative and has his own family home at the Butterfield House. “They were avid art collectors and liked to surround themselves with beautiful things.”
Hanging on the walls, too, were a few of the Esquire covers (several were donated to the Museum of Modern Art and installed in a permanent collection) that made Mr. Lois famous. These included Andy Warhol drowning in a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian, pierced with arrows.
In his long, storied career, Mr. Lois, who founded and led several advertising agencies, also created memorable ads like the “I want my MTV” campaign and the quirky spot for Xerox with a chimpanzee demonstrating the simplicity of its copier machines.
The apartment is entered through a spacious gallery that opens to a well-lit, 48-foot-wide great room, where there are areas for dining, lounging and one of Mr. Lois’s favorite pastimes, reading. Mr. Lois had designed and installed walls of shelves in the library area and throughout the home to accommodate his large collection of books, many of them about art and design (and including ones that he had authored).
He often bragged about having 10,000 books and reading 9,999 of them. Luke Lois says it was more like half that number. “We did a cataloging of the books and came up with just under 5,000,” he said. “He probably read 4,990 of them.”
Off the dining space is the kitchen, which Mr. Lois said his mother had updated about 25 years ago. It features granite countertops, as well as custom wood cabinetry with an enamel finish.
“They did some updates — some work in the bathrooms, like new sinks, and painting — but nothing major,” Mr. Lois said. Most original architectural details remain, like the oak floors, the windows on the balconies on opposite ends of the great room, and oversize windows that let in an abundance of light.
Two long hallways off the great room, one on each side of the apartment, lead to the four bedrooms, which look out onto the complex’s landscaped inner gardens and fountains. The two 20-by-12-foot primary suites are at opposite ends, each with an en suite tiled bathroom, and two more bathrooms are at the front of the hallway. Ms. Lois had used one of the primary bedrooms as a painting studio.
Mr. Lois has fond memories of spending time with his parents, his mother’s cooking and the famous visitors that would come to their home.
“I remember playing Nerf basketball with Bill Bradley one night at a dinner party,” he said, referring to the former star player on the New York Knicks and U.S. senator from New Jersey. “We always had an interesting assortment of people: Joe Namath was a friend of my father, Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali. Also Jacob Javits and Ed Koch. It was a great place to grow up in.”