The Inside Out: Aaron and Jonathan's Maximum Utility

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Name: Aaron and Jonathan (roomates for 9 years) Location: Bed-Stuy. Brooklyn Favorite: The light and the chairs Quote: “My apartment is cured and so am I” (put to music by Aaron)

When an artist/photographer/musician—Aaron (Golem and lycaon pictus) and an artist/set designer—Jonathan move in to a two story, former auto repair shop in the working industrial section of Bedford-Stuyvesant—the results are anything but banal.

This 5000 square foot space has served them well over the past 9 years, and when it hasn’t, Jonathan—the set builder—has adjusted the space by punching a hole through the ceiling, lowering the ceiling, raising the ceiling, adding sleeping nooks, building kitchens, bathrooms, roof access, and so much more.

Although, he clearly has an eye for what is aesthetically pleasing—ie. great chair fetish, and the precision of what he builds—Jonathan’s approach to living is “maximum utility”. He creates light where there is none, and provides a chair for every occasion.

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He and Aaron have managed to carve out extremely utilitarian spaces—such as a woodshop, rehearsal space, and darkroom—downstairs, while using the upstairs as a home of curiosities. Every corner offers something to surprise or intrigue the viewer. They have taken on projects large and small, not least of which includes filling in the gaping hole on the ground floor that once housed a crane for lifting cars.

Having this much space has spoiled these two guys in that they can collect and display anything, of any size, and still preserve dance space in their sprawling home. The best find noted were two beautiful wood/metal desk chairs tossed in the garbage in front of a Salvation Army in downtown Manhattan years ago. (What were they thinking?).

In terms of their chosen neighborhood, Aaron says he enjoys the “ugly, nightmare, not fun” aspects of Brooklyn, as well as the feeling of being a minority amidst a very diverse population. He likes the rawness of the space, and is more than content to live on a relatively treeless street.

The sad end to this story is that their work in progress has been definitively halted. They are being forced to move. Where to? Yonkers. JS

Know a great apartment for a house tour? email Jill at theinsideout@apartmenttherapy.com.

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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