“Our apartment is perpetually in some state of tumult, so a pillow overturned here and stuff on our coffee table there can usually be taken for granted," says Wang. "The couch is a vintage Vatne Mobler couch that I scored on eBay and had shipped all the way from Ohio to NYC. (I really wanted it!)”

Kay Wang, The Things We Keep

If you only knew Kay Wang through her Instagram — and chances are you might, considering her 33,000 followers — you wouldn’t necessarily immediately know what she does for a living. She could easily be a baker, a stylist, a ceramicist, or a woodworker; in December alone, she posted pictures from her Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, apartment of the frangipane tart she’d baked, the cherry cutting boards she’d sanded and oiled, the canvas bags she’d dyed with onion skin, and the silk cord necklaces she’d strung with hand-carved brass pendants. (And you’d certainly never guess that she spent nine years before moving to Brooklyn as an online marketer in Los Angeles and Seattle.) What she is, very clearly, is a restless creative spirit; so much so that even though her main focus right now is as a jewelry designer who crafts under the moniker The Things We Keep, she has trouble pinning herself with a specific label.
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Considine lives with her boyfriend in a sunny first-floor Greenpoint apartment. “I actually kill plants all the time, but I tend to find them a lot too. I found this middle one in the street, in the middle of winter. I’m also like a spider plant whisperer. I have a ton of spider plants in my studio.”

Erin Considine, textile and jewelry designer

Midway through our visit to Erin Considine’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn apartment earlier this summer, we began talking about her parents, who — no surprise here — are interior designers. She told us a story about her father being on a job site in Connecticut in the 1980s, where a company was giving away all of its Knoll furniture. A set of Mies van der Rohe Brno chairs here, a Saarinen Tulip table there — these are sorts the things the Brooklyn jewelry designer grew up with. When my jaw dropped, she shrugged. “It’s just being in the right place at the right time,” she says.
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That Larson ever studied fashion design at all is serendipity: “I actually wanted to go to school for interior design, but when I went to interview at my college, the advisor looked at my outfit, and was like, ‘Are you sure that you want to do that? Don’t you want to enroll in the fashion program?’ I was like, “’Sure. Why not?’” Shown here in her apartment, Larson wears an outfit of her own design and typical of her style.

Annie Larson, knitwear designer

If you follow Annie Lee Larson’s Instagram — and chances are good that you do, considering the New York knitwear designer’s followers almost tip into the five digits — you might envision that she lives in some Peter Halley-meets-Memphis–inspired fantasyland, all primary colors, geometric patterns, and kitschy throwback accessories (hello Bananagrams!) But the truth is, Larson’s 5th-floor East Village walk-up doesn’t appear all that crazy upon first glance. A pretty but small, light-filled, plant-friendly apartment, the place is largely decorated in black and white, save for a trio of painted shelves where Larson keeps her most prized possessions, and a one-two punch of colorful striped and polka-dot bedding. It’s only upon closer inspection (and I mean, really close, considering Larson’s love of miniatures) that her oft-photographed influences begin to reveal themselves — dice, Swatch watches, Japanese toys, and ’80s electronics among them.
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“I spent a year or so collecting these Spanish wrapped wine bottles, until I realized I had enough. For some reason they kept turning up at thrift stores in north Philly.”

Luren Jenison, Textile and Display Designer

Luren Jenison tends to describe her professional life as a “wild goose chase” — a neverending manic hunt through thrift stores, flea markets, and even forests to find the vintage oddities, natural artifacts, and textiles she uses in her elaborate installations. She’s constructed woodland scenes with foraged moss and taxidermied foxes for internal meetings at Anthropologie, set up tableaux with vintage books and building blocks for weddings and corporate galas, and even traveled all the way to China once to find a master joss-paper artisan to help her build a shimmery paper R.V. for a Free People store (he later panicked and pulled out of the project). And yet no matter how spectacular the results, at the end of the day they’re almost all temporary, set up for a night or a week or a month and then disassembled into their constituent parts to be trashed or banished to storage. Only the hunt goes on. If there’s one place you’d expect to find any permanent evidence of Jenison’s talents as both a visual stylist and an eagle-eyed picker, though, it would be in her own home.
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“This winter I got really into beeswax candles. They make the best patterns when they melt. The eye bowl is by Karin Gulbran, part of her recent exhibition at South Willard in LA. The turquoise tiles are Geoff McFetridge for Heath Ceramics: ‘My Head Disappears While My Hands are Thinking.’  I added little bits of cork to the bottom so they can be used as coasters or hot plates or something. And that bit of pottery in the corner is a piece by Mondays Projects.”

Brian W. Ferry, Photographer

If photographer Brian W. Ferry shoots like he takes absolutely nothing for granted — making us pine hard for moments of intensely quiet, understated beauty that probably already exist in our everyday lives — it’s likely because he feels so grateful to be doing what he’s doing. He may have discovered his inner camera nerd way back when he was growing up in Connecticut, but just a few short years ago, he was working long hours as a corporate lawyer in London, taking pictures merely as a personal creative escape hatch. Only after his blog began delivering fans and potential clients to his digital doorstep did he gather the resolve to quit his job, move to Brooklyn, and make a career out of triggering in people a kind of strange, misplaced nostalgia. “I think a lot about taking photos that are about more than capturing something beautiful, that have a heaviness attached to them,” Ferry told us earlier this winter at his Fort Greene garden apartment, as we rifled through his belongings together.
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In the main room of the couple's tiny new one-bedroom apartment is a table Tuazon made for Perret for her birthday.

Oscar Tuazon, artist, and Dorothée Perret, editor

Like most good photographers, Daniel Trese is a chronic wanderer. Troll the internet for instances of his work for magazines like Pin-Up and Butt, and you’ll find visual essays — often accompanied by musings he wrote himself — that seem like off-the-cuff missives from the road. “Oh hi, I was just traveling from Paris to the Italian countryside and I managed to shoot these beautiful images for you,” is what a typical contribution from the Los Angeles–based photog seems to say. So we were pleased earlier this winter when Trese wrote to us with pictures he’d taken during a recent visit to the new Paris home of his friends, the art-world power couple Dorothée Perret — formerly of Purple and current editor of Paris, LA — and Oscar Tuazon, a onetime Seattleite who makes sculptural art in raw concrete and wood, and who’s about to become known as one of the stars of this year’s upcoming Whitney Biennial. The couple and their two girls had recently relocated after a fire burned down their Montmartre duplex, and Tuazon had built bits of the new house from pieces of the old. Trese, who was in Paris during Fashion Week shooting bloggers Tavi Gevinson and Diane Pernet for a Dutch magazine called Girls Like Us, shot both houses and sent us notes he'd jotted down from his day with the family.
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His output now looks more like this — the same geometric motifs, but drawn into the computer using a digital pen and then splashed across everything from shirts to umbrellas to beanbags.

David Saunders of David David, Fashion Designer and Artist

If you were somehow unfamiliar enough with the London fashion scene that you’d never encountered the work of David David, née David Saunders, a primer in his background certainly wouldn’t help much. Saunders is best known for a whirlwind rise to prominence that began with a job as head sculptor in YBA Tracey Emin’s studio, stumbled into a fashion line that won him a coveted spot in London’s Fashion East runway show, and now entails an obligatory mention of fans like Kanye West, Agyness Deyn, and M.I.A. each time it comes up in conversation. It’s not that it’s much ado about nothing — we were huge admirers of Saunders’s line by the time we ended up in his flat last February, a block away from our favorite London boutique Darkroom — but all that star power conveys very little about a charmingly blithe collection consisting of a handful of wearable silhouettes festooned with hand-drawn kaleidoscopic graphics, except maybe how he ended up with it in the first place.
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A view of the house — with Ramakers at work at the dining table — from the so-called “winter room.” It has a fireplace and a few of the couple's dozens of themed bookshelves, including one full of hundreds of travel guides. The clock on the wall is an antique, from the ’20s.

Renny Ramakers, Director of Droog

First-time travelers to Amsterdam — perceptive ones, anyway — need only to spend a day navigating its cobbled streets to notice what makes the experience so singular. The buildings are old and narrow, and many seem perilously cockeyed. With their decorative facades and fanciful gables, they resemble oversized gingerbread houses. And when you walk by them, you witness a sight even more peculiar than all of the above: an unobstructed view straight into the living rooms and kitchens of the people who live inside, who refrain from hanging curtains even at ground level. As a locally based friend explained to me on a recent visit, the Dutch may value privacy just as much as the rest of us, but they also take a certain pride in proving they have nothing to hide. This was the thought running through my mind the day that Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of the influential Dutch design laboratory Droog, let me wander around inside her home unsupervised, snapping hundreds of voyeuristic photos of her possessions while she worked calmly away at her dining table.
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The aforementioned collection of religious art above the bed is still in its fledgling stages and may eventually take up the whole wall. The crucifix is Mead’s Jesus Door Knocker, which the pair also keeps on the front door. “I think because Kiel and I were both raised Catholic, we have a big obsession with religious paraphernalia,” explains Boatright. Adds Mead: “Anything that’s religious we’ll collect and put up, and it’s weird that two people would see eye to eye on something so weird.”

Kiel Mead, Product Designer, and Sarah Boatright, Artist

On a shelf in the home office designer Kiel Mead shares with his girlfriend, the performance artist Sarah Boatright, sits a set of drawers stuffed with backstock of his Forget Me Not rings, little string bows cast in precious metals. Mead’s breakout design when he was still studying furniture at Pratt, the rings were the genesis of the 27-year-old’s fascination with casting objects into wearable reminders — of childhood, of holidays, of lost loves, of an old car he once drove. Boatright, 23, also deals with the preservation of memories in her work, dressing up in goofy wigs to make reenactment videos of family Thanksgivings or furtively recorded interactions between strangers, which go on to enjoy eternal life on YouTube. So if you’d expect the couple’s Brooklyn apartment to be decked out with the kind of overstyled chicness typical of two young creatives, one of whom practically runs the Williamsburg branch of The Future Perfect, you’d be mistaken: Like their creations, the possessions they keep on display are more about storytelling than status.
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When de Cardenas mentions he found this black dresser on the street outside his apartment, my eyes widen, but it turns out that it, too, is the work of his refinisher, who lacquered it for free — a job that would typically cost upwards of $3,000. He might get rid of it soon though: “I need something bigger,” he says. “I have a lot of socks.” Next to the dresser is another street find, a black chair that de Cardenas doctored himself. “At one point I had pink tape on the living room walls, which started peeling so I took it off. I used the extra to wrap the chair. I always do little projects here and there.” The photo hanging on the wall is of an explosion, by Reuben Cox.

Rafael de Cardenas, Interior Designer

If style is a sore subject for the up-and-coming interior designer Rafael de Cardenas, who bristles at the suggestion that he might have one, a therapist would likely lay the blame on his mother. A Polish-Swiss former fashion PR agent — who with his Cuban father moved the family to New York City when de Cardenas was six — she was constantly redecorating, stripping the house bare every time her tastes changed. “She’s into one thing carried throughout, she can’t mix and match,” says de Cardenas. “So once it’s something new, everything’s gotta go. There was an Armani Casa phase, and now it’s all Native American, with blankets and sand-covered vases from Taos. It scared me away from design to a degree.” After spending most of his childhood wanting to be a doctor, he eventually went to RISD to study fashion and painting, and ended up heading the menswear department at Calvin Klein for three years. But although he admits that interiors were something he never put any thought into back then, design began exerting its slow pull.
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As a promotional image for McFee and Clark’s nascent Crummy House initiative, this image depicts what Clark calls “our combined ephemerata” — weird objects they’ve made, found items, and other trinkets. Crummy House, after all, is the couple’s first creative collaboration, an umbrella under which they both hope to work in the future. They’ll start by making black and white promotional zines featuring friends in the art and illustration worlds, which they’ll send out to industry contacts. They’ll also host shows by those artists and, if all goes well, turn the company into an agency. Once things progress, they’ll work with the artists they represent on Crummy House t-shirts and other merchandise.

Mason McFee, Artist, and Jess Clark, Graphic Designer

When Mason McFee and Jessica Clark decided to name their new company Crummy House, referring to their own charmingly ancient one-bedroom rental in Austin, Texas, it was mostly out of admiration rather than denigration. Sure, the paint is cracked in places, the garage has an uneven dirt floor, and in the winter, the cold night air blows through with no regard for shuttered windows. And it was a bit of an inconvenience when, two months after they moved in, an old tree fell directly onto McFee’s car. But with two desks in the living room, a workshop in the garage, and the kitchen basically converted into a studio, the house has become a kind of creative haven for the couple — a getaway from McFee’s responsibilities as an art director at the ad agency Screamer, and Clark’s as a graphic design student at Austin’s Art Institute. They spend weekends making art there, side by side, and with Crummy House they’ll start their first true collaboration.
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One of the living room walls hosts a makeshift art installation consisting of photos the pair took on a recent trip to New York, photos from past projects, gifts from friends, and in the upper right corner, their first art purchase — it's part of an art workshop a friend conducted with children in Africa. The chair halves were part of Seng's diploma project at school.

Judith Seng and Alex Valder, Designers

Despite what most people imagine, you don't just find 3,300-square-foot apartments in Berlin these days — they have to find you. In Judith Seng and Alex Valder's case, it was a newly divorced friend of a friend, abandoning the loft he'd lived and worked in with his musician wife, and searching for someone who could fill the sprawling space. Seng and Valder, two process-oriented product designers with a habit of accumulating furniture off the street, signed the lease immediately. In May, they moved their home from a 1960s Socialist housing bloc on the historic GDR boulevard Karl-Marx-Allee, then packed up their separate studios, creating a common office in the apartment's living area. There's a dishwasher and a fancy Duravit bathtub, a spare bedroom and a roof terrace. Space may be abundant and cheap in Berlin, but this is not the norm. Friends seeing it for the first time routinely gape.
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