When PieterJan Mattan moved to New York from Belgium in 2012, he arrived without a single piece of furniture. But the 28-year-old creative director, graphic designer, and digital nomad did have plenty of connections. He landed first in a modern high-rise overlooking the Hudson River, then moved to a less-than-exotic fifth-floor walk-up in the West Village. But by the end of that year, a friend renting a loft in Tribeca had announced he was moving, and Mattan jumped at the chance to relocate. “I loved this apartment immediately because it was so quintessentially New York,” Mattan says. “This building was an old umbrella factory. Upstairs there’s an amateur theater and dance school, and downstairs is an outlet store, selling Calvin Klein and Levi’s. There used to be a horse-saddle factory next door and one for typewriters across the street.” Of course, having a more permanent space also meant Mattan could begin decorating in earnest.
He began slowly at first and for a while, the apartment was filled with giant inflatables just to have something to sit on. But when Mattan began working in e-commerce (he was creative director of Fab in its heyday), he says, “curation was the job. You got to know a lot more product than you usually do.” It also meant he could take things home from work — props and bits from photoshoots, or collaborations he’d spearheaded. If you follow Mattan on Instagram, you’ll have seen over the years that the apartment has played host to everything from an embroidered teepee (now in storage) to a giant trampoline (currently sitting on its side in the hallway, it made visitors feel like they were in a real-life version of Tom Hanks’s loft in Big). “To me, a home is never done or ready,” Mattan says. “The way it is today is different from the way it was when we shot it and the week before that it was different again.”
We recently caught up Mattan to chat about his recent work with Hem — the rapidly growing, Stockholm-based design label he consults for and calls “more edgy, more fun, and more experimental than most” — as well as the story behind his very inspiring, ever-changing stuff.
This post was created in collaboration with Hem, but all thoughts and editorial content are our own. Like everything at Sight Unseen, our partner content is carefully curated to make sure it’s of the utmost relevance to our readers.
Faye Toogood, the London-based interiors stylist and creative consultant, has designed exhibition stands for Tom Dixon, windows for Liberty, displays for Dover Street Market, and sets for Wallpaper. But in all of her career, she’s had only one job interview. At the tender age of 21, having just graduated from Bristol University with degrees in fine art and art history, Toogood was called for an interview with Min Hogg, legendary founding editor of the British design bible The World of Interiors. “I had found out about a stylist job and decided I would go for it, even though I didn’t even know what that meant,” says Toogood. “I went in and it was the strangest thing. She asked me, ‘Can you sew, and can you tie a bow?’ I actually couldn’t sew, so I lied and when I got the job, I had someone do it for me.”
If you've been to one of her fashion presentations or received one of her elaborate invitations in the mail, you might be surprised to hear graphic designer and art director Roanne Adams describe her business as "not the edgiest design firm." This, after all, is a woman who's so well known for her career-launching work for emerging fashion stars like Abigail Lorick and Timo Weiland that brands often come crawling to her for infusions of downtown cool. Yet if she's managed to turn RoAndCo into one of the most up-and-coming boutique firms in New York at the moment, it's because her little-known clients like Rachael Ray and Zappos have just as much respect for her work as folks like TenOverSix do, which has a lot to do with Adams's instinctive approach to design: Rather than competing to be the most avant-garde kid on the block, she prefers putting new twists on familiar ideas from the past, researching a brand's history or creating narratives around those who don't have one. Her inspirations, as enumerated in the pages of our book Paper View and elaborated on here, run to the likes of Guy Bourdin and '70s advertising icons. "I''ve always been more into Paul Rand and Herb Lubalin than contemporary designers," Adams says.
Nathan Warkentin has been driving Mast Brothers's creative direction for the past three years, nudging it away from its original Brooklyn aesthetic and towards something more relevant. “In the beginning everything was a little old-timey, with a lot of classic or nautical patterns,” says Warkentin, whose influences we’re profiling today. “I started looking for inspiration in interesting art and architecture movements, and the work of current textile and pattern designers, to make it feel more contemporary.”