As you stroll through Clinton Hill, you are surrounded by historic mansions and modern-day apartment buildings. Something you can always be sure to find is a calm and serene environment like you’ve stepped out of New York City. The area can be deceiving, so don’t be fooled by the vibes. Among these quiet streets, you’ll find that it’s filled with people who are moving and shaking.
You can’t help but notice the rich industrial history of the neighborhood as it blends with contemporary influences in perfect synchrony to create a unique and warm atmosphere. Walking past the old buildings, you can see how they’ve transformed into living spaces.
What used to be the third floor of a garment factory is now modern-day housing. There, in that home, live Adrian and Kristen. We got the chance to enter their beautiful space, listening to the warm, vibrant tones of smooth jazz that melded with their bohemian-inspired apartment.
We got the unique chance to interview them, and with this opportunity, we learned about their history, their influences, and how they chose to design and use their space.
Can you show us around the space?
Adrian: Well, over here is the maker bot. It was one of those prototype home 3d printers, but we had to build it ourselves. Gotta have a nice-looking monitor. Plastic like
Adrian:I like it because it's not like a black, you know, appliance kind of screen. It's like actually designed.
Kirsten: I feel like you have to tell the story of the telecaster’s chip.
Adrian: Well, I was 17, so I saved for like a year to buy a guitar. I used to play in a bunch of bands in high school. And I had the guitar in mind I wanted to buy, but when I walked into the guitar shop, all the people were around this guitar. It had fallen from the top, top rack. And just got fucked up. They're trying to figure out what to do. “Like, what happened?” And you know, it's expensive. So I come back, and these guys knew me. They knew the guitar I wanted to buy.
I wanted to buy this kind of hollow body, Gretch. And I just like I offered to buy the telecaster. Well, can I buy it for this much? Like, would you discount it? And they all like huddled, like, really quickly, Alright, we'll do it like, so I got it and financed. So I got it, like 45% off retail. And it's just a dream to play.
Yeah, that's cool. It's almost better than getting a pristine one. What about these windows?
Kirsten: We happened into those. My brother does a lot of like, odd jobs installation, kind of whatever he can find. And a couple of years ago, he was like deinstalling them from someone's beautiful downtown loft apartment. And they were just going to be garbage. She couldn't find anyone to sell them to. But they're really nice. She had them reframed. I don't know if you could see, but she had them steel reframed.
And at the last minute, we just decided, you know what, fuck it, let's rent a u-haul van and put them in my apartment until we figure out what to do with them. She gave them to us just so that she didn't have to deal with having somebody lug them out of the apartment, which turned out to be an actual undertaking. They're each about three or 400 pounds. Yeah. So my brother and I carried them down two flights of stairs. And then Adrian and my brother carried them up into the building here. I don't know what we're going to do with them, but we're certainly not ever going to carry them out of here.
I'm trying to think of something else that has a fun story. This piece here. This is from Adrian's parents. And it's was a wedding gift. The karata here, karata right? Yeah, it's a hand-painted piece from Costa Rica that was given to them for their wedding as a gift from their good friends. And so they were going through, you know, as you do getting rid of stuff in their house. And we had just moved in here and had a lot less stuff and needed to fill the space. So they sent it up to us.
Let's see; we’ve got this vellum piece. Here is an aerial shot of Greenport, where my family is from. It doesn't look like that at all anymore. I mean, some people that are familiar with the North Fork, it's become a kind of a little Hamptons extension. That's Claudius, which has a history of being rumrunners. During the prohibition, they would run boats up and park them under the dock or right here, park them under the dock, and haul rum and liquor through the building under the dock. But yeah, so that's a little family history.
Oh, so some of my family members are on the wall here. This is my mom's maternal grandfather. And over there, the woman on the wall as my mom's maternal great-grandmother, which is cool in itself that I got these portraits and everything. They used to live in this neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is really cool. I was at my grandmother’s, and she had a box of these pictures that weren't hung up. And they have addresses in the neighborhood from the photo studios that they were taken at. So that was a cool sort of like full circle.
Adrian: They lived down the street.
Kirsten:Yeah, this one was taken on Myrtle? I think. This one doesn't have the address on the front. But yeah, one of them was on Fulton Street. Like it's pretty neat.
So how did you end up getting the like, were they photographs passed down through your family?
Kirsten: No, honestly, like, so my grandmother's got Alzheimer's now. And when it first started, we were going l through all of her photos together and stuff. And she just had all of these old family photos. Her aesthetic is not to have this stuff up. She has a very colonial country, sort of aesthetic, like portraits of ships and stuff. And these were all just like in a box. Nobody wanted them. And so I was asked. “Grandma, can I have these”? She was glad to give them to me.
This woman is, her name was Elizabeth, which is my middle name. So she's sort of a namesake. That's Clarence Clarence Thorpe, who was in the Navy in World War One and sailed out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Yeah, I never met him. He was passed on by the time I came around, But yeah, it pretty cool to come sort of, full circle all the way back home. I wonder what they would think of us living here now?
Adrian: You’re living in the shoe factory
This is a very appropriate question for you guys. What genre of music do you like?.
Kirsten: I feel like it would be easier to ask, like, what genre don't you like?
Adrian: Yeah. And like, what period in my life or time? Right now, I'm really into this Korean Kpop. I’d say avant-garde. It's not icon Kpop. It's this band Leenalchi. And it's comprised of like veterans in the space. But they sing with the traditional, like, folk style of singing. And it makes it like really cool beats. And they're telling this folklore story that, like every Korean knows, it's like a kind of fable. But it feels like art. Like they're kind of making commentary on Kpop.
It's kind of nuts that, like this other thing, is classified as Kpop. That's sort of just like the catch-all for all, like exports of Korean music. Yeah, that was, that was a lesson learned. Like everything coming out of Korea is known as Kpop. So it gets lumped into a genre, but Lenalchi more like alt. You know, whatever. I don't even know what you would describe them.
Where do you derive inspiration in your daily life?
Adrian: For me, I feel atmosphere brings out design. Getting the right atmosphere, look, it's part of what I'm doing at work too, you know, thinking about space, how to productize something. And make it more accessible and elevated design. And it's about getting that vibe, right? You know, I think people can easily tap into the emotional, aspirational side of things when they think about space if the vibe is right if the vibe. It's harder when it's vocabulary that an architect would use.
To describe a certain kind of connection point or whatever, people, the laypeople want the space to feel like an experience. That's certainly day-to-day mental processing within the company.
But the vibe is different for different people, right?
What is the difference in your vibes?
Kirsten: If you've ever moved in with someone, I mean, this is my first time living with a partner. It will be my last one, were now married. We’re both very particular about our spaces. So I think we were a little nervous. Like, how's this going to go? And I think it aesthetically blends pretty well. But I would say, like, a lot of our stuff came from family. And a lot of it. A lot of it is like found stuff from the building.
Adrian: A lot of art from found on the streets
Kirsten: You know, New York City sidewalk stuff. I used to work in the film industry briefly. So a lot of like, stuff coming offset and stuff. It feels like we've slowly collected. Yeah... everything.
Architects typically go for a real clean, modern aesthetic, Which is not what it is here. It’s more of a boho loft kind of, right. It's not what you would expect.
Kirsten: Yeah...I wouldn't say Adrian's a typical anything.
Adrian: You know, the space lends itself to that. Yeah. And if we were in a glass, perfectly steel, vista-type penthouse, maybe the interior design would be a little different to match that. But, over the years living here in Brooklyn also, grinding through like, a career. I think a lot of this has been gathered because it's either been handed down, found, or it was kind of mixing those things that we had.
What do you look for in a piece of furniture? How does it get past your vetting process?
Kirsten: I feel like the only piece of furniture that we have bought for ourselves is the desk here. Yeah, yeah. Everything else. Kind of came out of someone's house or office or set or whatever, and this was like, our first purchase.
Adrian: Yeah, we like, you know, something elevated. Like has an elevated look. It's not like too stout or too close to the ground. And there's a kind of... I don't know a kind of lift in the leg, that's, mid-century vibe, but like modern and futuristic because of the material and like, that, was what immediately like, drew me in.
Kirsten: Yeah, I like being able to change things and move things around. So that was really exciting for me about this desk. Because I've seen, I've already had it a few different ways.
I love the fact that you guys have had the riser at the end because first I saw you had it like offset to one side. I was like, Wow, that's amazing. It was like making us think about our design.
Kirsten: The functionality perspective like we needed another desk because everybody's working from home, but we also don't really have a dining room table in here. So we have like a little it can be whatever we want it to be.
Adrian: We'll eat dinner here. Yeah. You know, this was our like, our dinner table. Yeah. We love this thing. We play dominoes on here. We do. Like that's our morning. Our morning coffee is like over a game of dominoes. So it's easy to spread it out.