I’ve been secretly bouncing back and forth between Albany and Brooklyn for the past two weeks, making all the arrangements for my move in little teeny tiny trips. On the road to Capitaland at 4am; back in the city for work by 4pm.
I spent a few hours in the new apartment on Thursday, taking measurements so I can figure out where all my stuff will go. Not all the furniture can come with me, as it was purchased to make use of a loft space with a specific architectural feature – namely, no features whatsoever.
Taming that Brooklyn loft was some kinda challenge. Man! The apartment was literally an empty 800-square-foot rectangle with some windows, and the idea of filling it in a practical but appealing way was so intimidating. I kept thinking about something Michael Doret had told me the first time I commissioned a magazine cover illustration from him. I had been explaining this particular mag’s quirks – how there was always a rule line 1/2″ from the outside edge, how nothing was allowed to obscure our logo, how mailing labels would eat up the lower left corner, how there had to be X lines of copy here and here – and I was just cringing at having to place all these restrictions on a great designer. But Michael was cool with it. Working within a set of parameters, he said, was actually preferable to staring at a blank page. It provided a framework upon which to compose his design.
Reeves once told me something similar about doing guitar sessions. He said that when working for hire, one of the first questions he’d ask is what sort of things the client did not want him to play. The resulting restrictions would leave Reeves free to operate within the remaining space, while still enabling him to develop parts in his own style.
I agree with that approach. Whenever I start a project, a band, an album, a song – even a blog post – I like to name it immediately. That name may change, but it provides a basic concept, a direction which enables me to focus. A point.
It’s like having something to say before you sit down to write a song. When you go in with a mission, you write nice and tight. You also waste less time – yours and other people’s.
Anyway… this new apartment is just fuckin full of restrictions. With all these Victorian quirks, it’s the opposite of the Brooklyn space. For example, here’s a floor schematic I did up for the living room:
That is not a plain old rectangle – there’s a fireplace that juts out into the room, interrupting the wall. The entry to the kitchen is six-and-a-half feet of nothing, flanked by columns. And there’s another four-foot gap on the right which leads to an alcove.
A trip to Ikea is still in order, but I’ve figured out how to integrate a bit of the old loft furniture. That’s what those pink shapes are – shelves, armchairs, all that shit. And a Kiss pinball machine. You didn’t think I was gonna put that in storage, did ya?
I believe that if you have a style of your own, you will fill any space, regardless of rules or restrictions, with something that is identifiably you.