Walk to Work with the Man Behind Workaday Handmade
And go ahead and grab a cup of coffee on the way.
When Workaday Handmade’s Forrest Lewinger needs inspiration, he forgoes traditional transportation and hoofs it across Brooklyn, from his Williamsburg home and his Bed-Stuy studio—a 30-minute stroll that always sparks something for the ceramicist. Here’s what he passes on his path from Leonard to Powers to Lorimer to Flushing. —jackie varriano
“Gimme is the first place I stop in the morning—for a cappuccino. Great coffee!”
“You will see a lot of these little vitrines and alters with saints or the Virgin Mary inside of them. I really love how outwardly decorative they can be around here. It’s not about taste or style but more about tradition and family.”
“When I am walking around the city, I’m looking for unexpected color combinations and patterns that may find their way into my work. There are a few patterns on my pots that have come directly from something I saw while walking around.”
“Going under the tracks at Lorimer and Broadway represents a big shift in not only cultural and religious communities but architecture as well. My studio is right in the middle of the largest Hasidic Jewish community in the world. It is a very autonomous community, with shops and places of gathering and worship. I love watching how the people connect to the city that surrounds them. ”
“Sometimes you really feel transported to another place and time in this area. I imagine that I could have seen the same scene 100 years ago.”
“When you walk through the ‘hood, you can really get lost in the details and juxtapositions of everyday objects and words and activity. It’s a mess—and that’s what I love about it and where I find inspiration. I look for the handmade wherever I can. Having something handmade, whether it’s a pot, some food, or a sign, gives the thing character even if it’s almost perfect.”
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Get a Load of the Communal Jewelry Studio Elizabeth Thompson Created
900 square feet just bursting with creativity.
“We are a tribe that sees the beauty in small things,” says Elizabeth Thompson, the hyper-talented jewelry designer behind Elizabeth Knight, of her clan of 13 like-minded makers at the open-24/7 workspace FluxWork Studio, which she founded in 2008 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What do you get if you’re part of Elizabeth’s posse? A bench—i.e., the jewelry-world equivalent of a cubicle—and access to come-one-come-all workspaces for tackling projects like grinding, polishing, and soldering. Go on—take a look around. —alisha prakash
“The studio in the morning. As you walk in, you can feel the calm and the potential in the air. Throughout the day, people come and go. Some days the studio is empty, and others people will be working through the night. I love the company of my studio mates—sharing ideas and tools. I also love these silent mornings accompanied by the unspoken magic in the room.”
“Many people don’t know jewelers’ benches are raised so that one can sit eye-level with their project. Making jewelry is a very close, intimate experience that requires an extreme eye for detail. Often I find that working in this way can be very meditative and calming. I love to work by my favorite window that gets the best sunlight throughout the day.”
“These are my girls. How I love them. On the left is Emma—who was an intern for the summer—working at the soldering table with my assistant, Nina, on the right.”
“In December, we had a wildly successful event with Jean-Noel from Top Notch Faceting and his partner, Dale. The pair came to New York to discuss the process of ethically mining stones in Africa and to present stunning stones cut by Jean himself. Jewelers from New York, Philadelphia, and across the East Coast came to FluxWork to hear Jean and Dale speak. It was a sincere pleasure to host these guys at the studio and was very rewarding to have the support from a wide community of jewelers.”
“One of my many boxes of treasures. Texture, color, and pattern from natural objects have always been my inspiration. You can find small collections, just like this, all around the studio.”
“Working at the soldering bench is always a thrill—the powerful rush from transforming and fusing metal can make a jeweler want to consider being an alchemist. We have a few different tank set-ups at FluxWork, providing different combinations of oxygen, acetylene, and propane gas. Each option allows us to control the heat and metal in a specific way.”
“This was an awesome find on Bedford Avenue! While meandering to the studio, I cruised a record selection laid out on the sidewalk. When I set my eyes on Patti, I knew I wasn’t going to leave her there—this is my very first Patti Smith record. Music is a big deal in the studio. When I am in the studio alone, I turn to my favorite music blog, Left As Rain.”
“This is the grinding wheel, the machine we use to take down large sprues from our castings. You must keep a focused eye on the wheel as it removes metal—and fingernails—very quickly. This is how I look when I am in the zone.”
Select photos courtesy of Jacob Pritchard.
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Hang With Yegang Yoo in Her Greenpoint, Brooklyn, ‘Hood
A half dozen reasons to get exploring.
“I love the water and the quiet streets around it. You see the city right in front of you—you feel so close, yet it’s just so relaxed here,” says Yegang Yoo of her neck of the woods—somewhere between the East River and Newton Creek in Greenpoint. “One of the best parts is the cluster of new food and drink spots popping up on and around Franklin Street. Their design-savvy but down-to-earth atmosphere fits right into the neighborhood.” Hey, sounds kind of like Yegang’s not-trying-too-hard bag line IMAGO-A! See where the Brooklynite chillaxes when she’s not hard at work. —alisha prakash
“The best wine shop in the area, by a long shot, is Dandelion. I lived around the corner from the store for many years and have loved this store since they opened. Everyone is extremely cool and unpretentious. You can go in and ask questions and always leave with something great. You can shop just by the ‘staff picks’ tags alone—always great recommendations!”
(153 Franklin St.)
“Paulie Gee’s is hands down the best pizza in the area—and I know this is a touchy subject. Most good pizza places have pretty lousy interiors, but this is a total exception. The interior is beautiful—always very dark, but with lots of great details. I especially love the bathroom and that beautiful blazing oven from Napoli. Two of my favorite pies right now: the Greenpointer and the Sweet Lou…from the secret menu. Shhhhh!”
(60 Greenpoint Ave.)
“Transmitter Park was in the works for what seemed like forever. It has a kind of zigzag-y pier, which is nice because it has no other purpose—it’s not a ferry station or anything—so it’s always quiet. You walk out on this pier and it feels like you are in the middle of the East River. There used to be almost nothing down there at the end of Greenpoint Avenue.”
“Glasserie popped up less than a year ago at what used to be an old glass factory right by the Newtown Creek. It’s just unbelievable—it’s stunningly beautiful inside, and everything I’ve eaten there is next-level. The foods have a hint of Middle Eastern spices with lots of flavor from grilling. My favorite on the brunch menu is the poached eggs and spicy tomato stew.”
(95 Commercial St.)
“Alameda is beautifully designed by the Haslegrave brothers of Home, who designed some other great places in the area including Tørst and Paulie Gee’s. It has amazing cocktails and food. The majestic bar is the center of the place—I love the geometric tile works and great carpentry around it.”
(195 Franklin St.)
“Achilles Heel is also really new and well-designed with an extremely cozy interior. It’s located on the super-quiet West Street by the river. There’s a common thread to all these newer places—something about the way they combine a DIY feeling with a great, tasteful craftsmanship. Achilles Heel is another place that seems to really get it.”
(180 West St.)
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Step Inside Mimi Eayrs’s Cozy Clinton Hill Apartment
Stay as long as you want.
“The space is like a Tetris game,” says Mimi Eayrs—who designs the bangin’ bag line Earyslee with Joanne Lee—of her Brooklyn pad. “We have optimized every corner for storage—we had to make sure we could squeeze everything in a way that doesn’t seem too cluttered.” See how she, her husband Jason, and their son Indigo have done a lot with a little space. —alisha prakash
“This is our living room. My husband made the coffee table many years ago. The blue book on it was a gift he gave to our son on the day that he was born. It is called Conversations with Blue—our son’s name is Indigo—and has the most beautiful, delicate prints made with cyanotype. Basically, the whole apartment is a juxtaposition of both our styles. Jason is a little more modern and likes cleaner lines. I tend to be drawn to more vintage stuff, like the mirror above the mantle.”
“This picture was given to us by my best friend in Argentina for our wedding. It’s from an artist named Nahuel Vecino. We call it our auspicious painting.”
“We love vinyl. The record that is on—by Father John Misty—is what our son listened to while he was in the womb. When he was just a couple of weeks old, this was one of the few things that would really soothe him and put him to sleep. To the left is the Eayrslee Lou iPad bag and the Cooper mini bag in stingray. The painting is one of mine.”
“My husband made the four moons painting last year while I was in Brazil for business. He had never painted anything before and decided to try something out—which ended up looking pretty awesome.”
“My grandmother brought that little table with her all the way from Argentina, though it originally came from India. The photograph was a Polaroid our friend took at our wedding that he then blew up and gave to us. And that’s an Eayrslee yellow Henry wallet on the side table.”
“This used to be the Eayrslee office. Joanne and I always referred to Eayrslee as our baby…until the actual baby I had with my husband came along, and the space became his room. The curtain came from India; the rug we found in the north of Argentina, after searching for days. We picked the color for the walls before we found out the gender of the baby—it was a unanimous decision.”
“The little bunny was handmade in Argentina, and the rattle was a gift from our good friend. Whenever we’re changing Indi and he starts to cry, I say ‘magic!’ and shake the rattle, which makes the sound, that in my mind, they would use for a magic moment if our lives had a soundtrack. Indi loves it and becomes completely absorbed by it.”
“The painting on the left was a gift to Indi from his godmother in Argentina. It’s pretty crazy because it looks just like me, and it reminds me of how I would have drawn myself. We love it. The llamas come from a little town called Purmamarca in the north of Argentina, and the little drawing on the right is a mini Yves Klein that we printed on a regular old printer.”
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Head Home With Lia Cinquegrano of Thomas IV
There’s LOTS to see here.
Back in 2006, Lia Cinquegrano, the super-skilled designer behind the bag line Thomas IV, was living in a closet on 18th and 3rd in Manhattan. No, like actually a closet: “It was off my roommate’s room and had a children’s twin lofted bed, which touched three of the walls,” says the ex-Floridian. After a stint in Chinatown, she packed her bags for Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 2012, moving into a 1,400-square-foot space with her BF Nick. See what she’s done with those seven beyond-spacious rooms here. —alisha prakash
“A Lego VW van—one of Nick’s pieces—on a custom slanted tabletop behind our living-room couch. In the background is the Pez collection Nick inherited from his grandma and a flocked portrait by the artist Virgil Marti.”
“This is our crazy wall of art right by our front door. Nick has a very extensive collection. My brother, Tommy, designed the three larger black-and-white architectural prints in the center. He makes photo montages of warehouses and has them screen-printed by Kayrock Screenprinting in Greenpoint.”
“I love my dining table. I bought it at a church thrift shop on Gramercy Park. I recently painted the chairs and table legs bright teal. Also, it has our autumnal arrangement on it.”
“This is a view of the kitchen—and our magnet collection. The magnets are from around the world. Atop the fridge are three cast pineapples by Nick Paparone.”
“My favorite spice rack is a converted ‘Doctor Scholl’s Foot Comfort Remedies’ display shelf. Above it is a replica of a Van Gogh painting by my mother, Marilynn.”
“This is my sewing machine with some inspiration on the wall behind it—images of the crystal cave in Chihuahua, Mexico, and of the Tarahumara people of northwestern Mexico in pre-Easter costumes. Also, an illustration of one of my bags by Emily Rose Bartley!”
“A large banner by Nick hangs behind the bed, and a rug he designed lies below.”
“I love my cuckoo clock and branch shelf, displaying a collection of tiny tchotchkes, on the wall opposite our bed. The rattan loveseat formerly had more of a Golden Girls vibe. I recovered the cushions in toile and painted the bamboo a high-gloss red.”
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Watch Morgan Carper Fix Up Her Fort Greene Casa
Extreme Makeover: Designer Home Edition
When Morgan Carper—the force behind the textile-fueled apparel line of the same name—and her hubby, Chris Bradford, got their hands on a 125-year-old Fort Greene brownstone in February 2013, they were pumped to dive in and make it their own. “There’s still work to be done, but this house will constantly be a work in progress,” she says of her (very major) renovation. “I love the idea of growing and evolving into our home.” See what she’s done with the place so far. —alisha prakash
The Living Room
“This is the parlor-floor living room—beautiful bones, but so dark. Because the house is so extremely narrow, we wanted to lighten up the space as much as possible. Bringing down a few walls, painting everything bright white, and laying down white oak floors was our solution. The old floors were actually quite beautiful, but they weren’t original to the house—and the red oak made the space dark. New flooring transformed the space, while adding a personal element to make it our own. I have always loved the classic look of herringbone flooring—the lines elongate the room, and the light finish brightens it.”
“We removed a wall with double doors, opening up the space. The restoration of the moldings was painstakingly time-consuming but incredibly rewarding to preserve such detail and character. Chipping away at all the years of paint was like going back in time. I loved thinking about the families that lived in this house and what was happening during that time, color by color.”
“We wanted to make the space as light as possible, so we gutted it and replaced the dark cherry cabinets with black countertops with white cabinets and Carrera marble. We splurged on the countertops while maintaining low costs with the Ikea white lacquer cabinets—it’s all about balance. Getting to see the skeleton of the house was amazing. The beams and foundation are so stout and solid—they just don’t make them like they used to!”
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See Just What the GREI. Duo Loves About Bed-Stuy
8 places where they eat (and eat and eat).
Larry Paul and Andrew Spargo of the accessory line GREI. have lived in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy for two and a half years—and they love it there. “When we’re sitting on the stoop, people actually say hello as they walk by. Everybody says hello,” says Larry. They’ve also devoured a whole lot of meals in the neighborhood. Dive into their favorites—from Jurassic-size donuts to sophisticated seafood—here. —jane-claire quigley
Larry: I can’t wake up without my coffee in the morning, and Bread Love is my alarm clock. Enter through the back of the beautiful historic mansion on the corner. It’s kind of like a farm stand with a bunch of picnic benches.
Andrew: Everything is local and tasty. I love the banana and zucchini bread. You can also sign up with one of their organic produce partners for a bag of weekly picks from local gardens.
(375 Stuyvesant Ave.)
Larry: A pizza joint not to be missed: authentic thin-crust Neapolitan pizza and a slew of daily specials. There’s a huge garden in the back, so if it’s nice out, check it out.
Andrew: There’s a small bar in the front that serves incredible cocktails. The gin & tonic with fresh rosemary is seriously addictive. And they serve up the best fritto misto I have ever tasted.
(435 Halsey St.)
Larry: Andrew is a pescetarian—I hate that word—so he’s obsessed with this place. When chef Massimiliano Nanni left Saraghina, he went on to open Celestino. The focus is Mediterranean seafood, but there are equally mouthwatering pasta dishes.
(562 Halsey St.)
Larry: A no-frills Dixie-style hang serving Southern favorites and BBQ. My favorites are the fried green tomatoes and fried chicken. It gets packed, so you’ll need some patience.
Andrew: Also try Peaches, their sister restaurant at 393 Lewis Avenue!
(415 Tompkins Ave.)
Do or Dine
Larry: This is the first of many new businesses opening on Bedford Avenue in the ‘hood. Don’t let the “B’s West Indian” take-out awning alarm you: You’re at the right place. Everything about Do or Dine seems like some sort of inside joke. The menu is a mash-up of just about every culture. It’s perfect for stoners with a cultivated palette.
Andrew: I have two words for this spot: disco ball!
(1108 Bedford Ave.)
Larry: This is the same crew that offers the dinosaur-size donuts at the Brooklyn Flea. Their brick-and-mortar location is located catty-corner to the Lafayette Gardens projects on the border of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy.
Andrew: I recommend the toasted coconut, but if you’re a purest, go for the plain glazed.
(448 Lafayette Ave.)
Larry: Okay, this is technically not our neighborhood, but it’s just a short walk across Atlantic Avenue. Franklin Street in Crown Heights is kind of like Williamsburg ten years ago. It’s now full of 20-somethings wearing anything high-waisted.
Andrew: The food at Chavela’s is amazing. Larry is from California and usually turns his nose up at Mexican cuisine in New York, but I can easily persuade him to go for tacos here any day of the week. Don’t leave without at least one order of guacamole and muchas Micheladas—with the Mexican beer of your choice.
(736 Franklin Ave.)
Andrew: Glady’s is new. The food is simple, but with outstanding fresh ingredients. They just started serving brunch, so if it’s a hike for you, try visiting on the weekend.
(788 Franklin Ave.)
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The Insider: Karen Mordechai
The moment you walk into Karen Mordechai’s Williamsburg loft, you know you’re in for a treat: From her rad, airy space, she runs Sunday Suppers, which is all about cooking delicious meals with (often brand-new!) friends—and often walkin’ away with some new skills, too. Dig into her pro-tips on eating and serving good food. —monica derevjanik
Q: You seem to know how to throw a seriously cool dinner party. What are your tips?
A: I think simplicity goes a long way. We sometimes tend to overthink things, and the event starts to snowball. Keep things simple; focus on good food and good friends.
Q: Which recipes are your favorites to try out at Sunday Suppers?
A: It’s fun to think of activities that work well communally, like pasta-making and shucking oysters. That way, everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets their hands dirty. Plus, there’s a great sense of satisfaction for those who learn to do this for the first time.
Q: Which snacks do you have ready to go for any occasion?
A: Always some olives, great bread, butter, and nuts.
Q: What’s your favorite under-the-radar restaurant right now?
A: There’s this place called Moto—it’s a small restaurant under the JMZ train in Brooklyn. The menu changes up a bit, but it’s always about warm, comforting meals. The artichoke is fantastic, but, to be frank, it’s all about dessert. The date cake is incredible, and if you’re lucky, there’s often a great little jazz band or trio playing in the background.
Q: Game-changing ingredient. Go.
A: A fantastic sea salt. Maldon makes a great flaky one, but I also love playing with others like Himalayan, black, and grey salts.
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Go Inside Blanca Monrós Gómez’s Gowanus Studio
A former textile factory gets a makeover.
It wasn’t long ago that Blanca Monrós Gómez—the way-talented, Barcelona-born jewelry designer—was oh-so familiar with the term WFH. But as her biz grew, it was time to find Blanca Monrós Gómez the line a home that was different from that of BMG the person, and, in July 2012, she moved her operations to a lofty spot in Gowanus in Brooklyn. “It has gritty charm typical of these buildings with exposed beams, columns, and oversize steel doors,” she says. “It’s a big, open space with lots of windows and light—the perfect mood for a work space.” You’ll see what she means below. —alisha prakash
“We share the space with my husband’s architecture practice—Office of Architecture—which is great because it has enabled both of us to became each other’s informal support group; a sounding board to bounce off ideas on running a small business.”
“As the business grew in size, we literally ran out of space. We were ready to move to a place that would house both our work and showroom. So it had to be both functional and beautiful.”
“We constantly have visitors coming in—store buyers viewing the collections as well as people doing custom jewelry consultations for individual wedding bands and engagement ring sets.”
“The jewelry is all made by hand in NYC, with the finishing touches done exclusively at our studio. We design our pieces and make all our samples here as well. One of the reasons we chose this space was because of its light. It has become a very productive and inspiring environment.”
“Our rough utility sink looking amazing with beautiful flowers from the talented Amy Merrick!”
Photos courtesy of Alice Gao Photography.
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A Tour of Brooklyn’s Under-the-Radar Kensington ‘Hood with Doug Johnston
Bonus points if done on horseback.
Oh, sure, you know Williamsburg and Fort Greene, but how about Kensington, a narrow north-south strip of Brooklyn at the bottom of Prospect Park? What the neighborhood lacks in restaurants and coffee shops, it makes up for in greenery and open spaces—a compromise that the designer Doug Johnston, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his wife are more than willing to make. Plus, according to the census, Kensington has one of the most diverse populations in the borough. “It reminds us that we’re living in a city that’s connected to the whole world,” Doug explains. See just why he likes this place so much. —meghana gandhi
“Ocean Parkway starts at the northern tip of Kensington and goes to Coney Island. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also did Central Park and Prospect Park. One side is a bike path, and one side is a pedestrian walkway. On a bike, it takes 20 minutes to get to Coney Island, and it’s a really pretty ride.”
Ditmas Park Victorian Mansions
“Ditmas Park is the neighborhood just east of Kensington, and it’s full of turn-of-the-century Victorian mansions. The closer you get to Prospect Park, the larger they get. Sometimes they film Boardwalk Empire in that neighborhood—because apparently a lot of the houses are Atlantic City-style. It is unlike anything else in Brooklyn and doesn’t even feel like you’re in NYC anymore.”
“Because people here have yards, you start to get these gardens, manicured lawns, and sculpted shrubs. The forms are halfway between organic and manmade: They grow naturally but are shaped by someone. When I’m making rope pieces, that’s kind of what I try to go for—I base things on what the process wants to do naturally, but I get to have a say in what they look like as well.”
“On the northeast corner of Kensington, you can walk down the street and pass houses, a church, more houses…and then these stables. They’re open to the street, so you see the horses. If you go through Prospect Park, you’ll see people riding the horses. It’s a nice part of the neighborhood. Everyone loves seeing them, and the people who work there seem to love the horses.”
Ice Cream House
“This place is on the same block as our studio, and they’re going to move across the street from the studio—which is even more dangerous. It’s open until midnight every day of the week. The awning is all lit up at night, like this beacon of ice cream. It’s a Hasidic business—so all of the ice cream is kosher—and almost every flavor has a non-dairy version. They have this great orange-vanilla/creamsicle flavor. I think they use artificial coloring, so some of the ice cream has super-crazy colors.”