Step inside a stylish home makeover of a brownstone for a family of seven in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
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A rooftop party is quintessentially New York. Gathering with friends overlooking the city’s view of skyscrapers, apartments sitting atop each other like pieces in a Tetris game, and public and street art as far as the eye can see, those moments on the roof are a celebration of all the city has to offer. We take you inside our rooftop party celebrating our squad of New York women who inspire.
Chelsea is known for art and the amazing architecture of the High Line. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful views of New York. Standing upon any rooftop and you can see the beauty of the city’s architecture all aglow in the evening light. It’s here where we decided to throw an intimate soirée with the women from our She’s So AphroChic campaign.
On a warm New York evening, the rooftop was decorated with a colorful array of AphroChic pieces. White sofas were filled with cushions in shades of fuchsia, deep blue, black and white. Baskets handmade in Rwanda became the perfect catchall for pieces like napkins and flatware. On the table, guests were treated to charcuterie, local fresh fruits and wine, and lots of good conversation. The smell of lavender wafted through the air, freshly planted on the rooftop deck.
As Beyonce’s Formation played in the background, guests talked about their creative paths, their little ones, and most importantly about the beauty of Black women gathering together. And how special it was to have a gathering of these women in particular, many who have broken the mold in their industry – a magazine editor, fashion designer, costume designer, model, floral designer, DIYer and author.
It was a night showcasing some serious Black Girl Magic. Just another evening surrounded by some of the most talented people you know in the city that never sleeps.
Fashion designer Nana Yaa Asare-Boadu takes the time and care to work by hand in one of New York’s most fast-paced industries.
Actor and activist, Gbenga Akinnagbe, enters the world of home decor with the launch of ENITAN, a vintage furniture company inspired by his Yoruba heritage.
A head full of gorgeous curls and colorful backdrops. These two things make fashion blogger Celeste van Joost’s Instagram feed addictive. The founder of Celmatique, Celeste has a focus on sharing her unique vision of fashion and style as a way to inspire others to be themselves.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_slide” interval=”0″ images=”5829,5820,5831,5822,5826,5821,5823,7595,5827,5824,5843″ img_size=”full” onclick=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How can you live big in 500 square feet? It’s great when design is used to answer questions. Questions about how people live, and how we as designers can give them the lifestyle they want in the space that they have. The question that we had to answer at BKLYN Designs this year was how we could create a multi-functional environment where one could live, work and entertain in a space with a very small footprint. The Brooklyn Micro Loft that we designed answered that question, as we worked with sponsors, Resource Furniture and AJ Madison, to create a concept house that was all about small space, big style.
To make the space feel like home, we started with color, inspired by Pantone’s colors of the year, and coupling them with dark and moody shades for a masculine feel. Benjamin Moore’s Midnight Dream became the perfect backdrop – an inky black hue with just a touch of blue in it. In the living room, a mix of navy, pink and black AphroChic and John Robshaw pillows created a colorful display. And when transformed to a bedroom, local Brooklyn brand, Brooklinen’s high quality bedding and their blue and white striped Bedford duvet cover added to the patterned mix, topped off by a headboard in our graphic Ndop pattern.
The concept home included a mix of natural materials to keep things feeling grounded, and that helped us blend super-modern Italian pieces from Resource Furniture with artisan and couture pieces. The space was filled with items that added texture, from a silver-speckled cowhide rug from Rugs USA, to overhead lighting by LAAF by Leah C., made of beautiful pheasant feathers. Handwoven baskets from Indego Africa became the perfect touch of African style in the space, used as planters and decorative objects. Finally, wooden lighting from Lamps Plus blended both modern shapes and natural elements together for a unique sense of ambiance.
The final layer in our Brooklyn pop-up house was art. As we always say, no home is complete without it, and it’s truly what made this space feel like a home. We partnered with Uprise Art to include a collection of original art including framed pieces and sculptures. For a cultural touch, we layered in a selection of figurative pieces by Philadelphia graphic designer, Jeff Manning. And an artistic touch even extended to the dining table with china by Think Fabricate featuring imagery of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Navy Yard.
Everything in the loft is complete shopable, so check out some pieces from the micro loft on our #bkmicroloft pin board that you can bring home today.
In 2015, the Jenn Singer Gallery opened in one of New York’s most picturesque neighborhoods – Gramercy Park. Upon opening her doors, Singer, a gallery owner and curator brought a unique approach to the art world. Trained as a dancer, Singer’s exhibitions are thoughtfully choreographed, inviting, and provocative. We had the opportunity to talk with Jenn and discuss her work as a gallerist, her passion for curation, and the Jenn Singer Gallery’s latest exhibition – Emily Weiskopf: Pixan Paths // Higher Roads.
How did you grow into art curation and eventually into directing your own gallery?
I’ve always been surrounded by art in one way or another – first as a performing artist, and then about ten years ago I transitioned into art consulting with several different galleries, first on the West Coast and then back in New York. During the depths of the recession I was lucky to find a job at a gallery on Madison Ave, as no one seemed to be hiring. It was there that I had my first chance to curate a pop-up gallery in Bloomingdales. I was given a lot of freedom and responsibility to direct the pop-up and loved it. After a couple of years with that gallery, I was hired by a contemporary gallery in Chelsea and worked closely with the owner. He taught me a lot about the business of art and we installed shows together. I learned so much of what to do and what not to do from him – and he valued my feedback and input into the process of curation and exhibition planning.
As a result, he instilled a lot of confidence in me, though I never thought having my own gallery was attainable given the realities of New York real estate and the intimidating overhead. However, in November 2014, I was getting my hair cut next door to what is now Jenn Singer Gallery and asked my hair stylist about the tiny vacant space next door. It all bloomed from that moment in his chair, as I visualized the gallery – it actually seemed possible. The space is less that 200 square feet and presents its own challenges as I curate shows. It’s been fun playing with those limitations. I try to get a sense of the narrative and energy of each artist’s collection of work and let it flow from there. As I install, I try to let it breathe and want the space to feel expansive even though it’s so small in size.
Your website mentions your passion for and commitment to dance. Does your experience with dance inform how you curate?
I’ve been dancing since I was five years old and studied with incredible instructors including Paul Mejia and Suzanne Farrell at the School of American Ballet and at NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I graduated with a B.F.A. Dance will always be a part of me and it’s my home base when I need to center myself – ballet class is more therapeutic for me now than it was when I was performing, though (confession!) I haven’t taken a ballet class since opening the gallery.
During a brief stint of living on the West Coast (a much needed a break from New York at the time), I was offered a part-time job at a wonderful gallery representing California artists in Laguna Beach. I’d studied art history for fun, and always had a secret fantasy about working in a gallery surrounded by art all day. My first day there, I sold an oil painting and fell in love with the process – watching people fall in love with art; knowing that an artist was going to get paid because of people’s desire to live with their art – it was a beautiful thing given that my background was dance (an expensive art form to train in and one of the least supported).
It was an incredibly natural transition into the visual art world. Opening receptions feel like performances to me – I have to be on and I want the audience to have an experience and leave wanting more. I believe the discipline and commitment it took to become a dancer helps me every day in the business of art and keeping the gallery running. And, the exposure to classical music, artistic scenery, beautiful choreography, costuming, etc. from such a young age helps to inform and guide me as I choreograph my exhibitions and put all the pieces together.
From Miriam Cabessa’s evocative paintings to Delphine Diallo’s photo collages, your current contemporary artist exhibition is largely populated by an incredibly diverse group of women. As a woman in the arts yourself, do you receive any pushback from the decision to feature mostly female artists?
No pushback at all! In fact, I’ve only received positive feedback about my female-centric program. I am not anti-male and will not leave wonderful artists that I want to work with off the list just because of their gender, but I do love that I represent so many fantastic, talented female artists. It’s important to me because there is still so much discrimination and misogyny in our society. When I was looking at artists for the gallery, I couldn’t believe how many amazing female artists I’d happened upon that were not represented. It’s personal because when I look at the list of the top-selling artists, biggest galleries, most successful working choreographers, etc, I see a lot of men. I just want to see things a bit more balanced out. A little more yin and a little less yang, if you will.
Pixan Paths // Higher Roads, Emily Weiskopf’s solo exhibition, opens April 30th in your exhibition space. What initially drew you to Weiskopf’s colorful abstractions?
When I initially met Emily in her studio, I was immediately drawn to her use of unconventional, industrial materials – abstract works on aluminum incorporating roofing paint, gravel, tar, enamel, and plaster. She was about to undergo major spinal surgery, as months earlier she was involved in a nearly fatal car accident. Her story, strength, passion and obvious talent sold me on working with her – and her work sold itself.
Why is curation so important to both the artist and the collector?
I see the curator as one who helps interpret and convey the artist’s message to the world. Artists put so much passion and energy into their work – it can get very cerebral and can be very personal. To help decode that for the viewer, allowing room for their own interpretation of the work, is my job. I can speak about the work in a different way than the artist, revealing tidbits, secrets, insights and glimpses into the soul of the artist that the collector wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Connect with the Jenn Singer Gallery and see their latest exhibitions:
Join us this weekend, May 6th-8th, for our second year at BKLYN DESIGNS as we present the Brooklyn Micro Loft. The 500 square foot concept space will showcase how even the smallest spaces can have the very best in Brooklyn style. Featuring a cutting-edge kitchen with products from AJ Madison and a range of modular furnishings from Resource Furniture, the home will also provide a peek at our new textile that will launch in collaboration with Minted later this spring. Additional brands featured in the concept space include, Lamps Plus, Rugs USA, John Robshaw, Brooklinen, Uprise Art, Jeff Manning Art, Indego Africa, LAAF by Leah C., and Think Fabricate.
The Brooklyn Micro Loft will be an interactive pop-up home featuring a variety of public events hosted by AphroChic, including:
Saturday, May 7, 12-1pm, Small Space Small Bites in the Micro Loft
Chef Rashad Frazier of Pulled Together will share tips for small space entertaining, showing you how to execute a menu of small bites for that cozy cocktail party you’re planning. Reception to follow.
Mini Carolina Pulled Pork Sliders with Red & Green Coleslaw
Deviled Egg with Pimento Cheese and Pickled Radish
Strawberry Shortcake with Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits and Hand Whipped Cream
Bourbon Blackberry Smash Cocktail
Sunday, May 8, 1:15-2pm, Where Art Meets Design: Starting the Perfect Collection for Any Budget and Any Space on the Main Stage
No home is complete without art. But how do you get started building a collection? AphroChic, Uprise Art and the Jenn Singer Gallery lead a discussion on how art lends personality to a space, collecting art online and off, and how to start buying the art you love in a snap.
Graphic design for AphroChic by Olivia Conradie