On the Edge

Be Daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.  --- Cecil Beaton

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There’s something about the older cobblestone streets, the wind in my hair and the smell of the city--just a bike ride from Manhattan. This is where the true artisans live and work, in warehouses that are glamorized by television shows like Gossip Girl and the like.

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To my surprise, I found the residents and characters of area just as interesting as what they create and design. Their sawdust-covered workshops are filled with one-of-a-kind objects for home. To them their dedication is about the craft, the love of materials, most of all the process. The value of the dollar is different here. It’s measured in making the rent, buying recycled materials, a trip to the market all to maintain this “loft Style” existence.  I found myself not only drawn in by this lifestyle, but wanting to become a part of it somehow—this new perspective on day-to-day living was something to cherish.

Photo courtesy of Paul Raeside. 

Photo courtesy of Paul Raeside. 

Yet, when it comes to describing the proud grins of each master craftsman displayed as I acknowledged his talent, I can’t possibly give the moment its full justice. I wouldn’t want to butcher the integrity of it all. So, all I can do is attempt to emphasize the awe-inspiring work behind those smiles.

Architectural Digest Home Design Show

Architectural Digest Home Design Show

All of this took place on the other side of the bridge in Brooklyn, in an area named Dumbo to be exact. I witnessed families with kids in strollers, couples promenading down the chilly avenue along side the homeless, artists, bars and workshops. They were all existing together, each group contributing to the vitality of Brooklyn. It’s a city unlike Manhattan where one is merely measured by their address.

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After my tour of a few galleries and workspaces, we were able to stop for a much needed break and to enjoy a glass of wine at the Olympia Wine Bar where I met Chris and Goel. Just from a glance I knew they represented the people I have been reading about recently, reinventing a new frontier—The Quality over Quantity Brigade. They have lived in the neighborhood for twelve or so years, moving in when Brooklyn wasn’t so desirable (to say the least). They noted today there were more baby carriages than ever before. Looking out the window with concern behind his eyes, Chris suggested Manhattan may just be moving into “his” territory.  

Take for instance Mark Jupeter, in this company he is compared to the craftsman that made tables in the TV series “Sex in the City,” not a bad person to be compared to I suppose. If you recall in the show, Carrie and this gentleman were at odds over the addresses as well as individual lifestyles. That friction is apparent throughout Dumbo.

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Chris and Goel shared that rents were running 3500 dollars for a lofty two bedroom. While it may seem to some a bit romantic, picture what lofty really means here. No heat, cement floors, and vandals paired with great views. Have I mentioned no whole foods as of yet. But somehow with Manhattan only a bike ride away, all of the cities luxuries were available just on the other side of the bridge.

These craftsmen, designers and artists may seem outside of normal but are producing some of the neatest objects and furnishings I’ve seen in a while. I think we should surprise ourselves, seek these characters out in our own cities and towns. We may just be buying a new favorite heirloom, with a great story attached.

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All I can say is a big thank you to Veronika Miller and Modenus for the introduction as well as our wonderful sponsors.