Mike’s Surprising Student Studio

published Oct 8, 2010
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Name: Mike of Unplggd & Other Communications and Sadie the cat.
Location: Rittenhouse Square — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Size: 360 square feet
Years lived in: 1.75 years

Studio apartments are common in a city like Philadelphia. The thing that sets them apart are the fantastic bare bones of the spaces that studio dwellers are given to work with. Original architectural details are a gem, but when you’ve got a knack for design like Mike does — they hold their weight in gold.

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At first you might not realize that Mike is just a student — a student on a budget — he doesn’t have the six figure salary that he dreams of having one day. DIY and good deals aren’t a death sentence and he has most certainly made the best of both. Mike and his father built the loft space that he sleeps on top of and works below. They even installed a window on the side, which we just think is genius!

His apartment is bright and sunny, another added bonus that works exceptionally well with the blue on the walls and white accents throughout. Mike has certainly created one of our favorite student spaces!

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Minimalism (in a conceptual sense and not so much formally with geometric/angular décor.)

Inspiration: Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space”.

Favorite Element: The pressed flower next to my desk which came from my grandmother’s garden. She passed away last year and not a day goes by without me looking at it and thinking of her.

Biggest Challenge: Space. I have too much! All of my storage spaces encourage me to keep things around that I don’t need. I’m constantly trying to evaluate my possessions and get rid of stuff. I don’t want to live with so many things — only what I love.

What Friends Say: They either like it or think I’m mid-move.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably my bathroom. There is no lock on the door and it is hard to keep the floor clean due to my cat’s keen ability to spread her litter into every cranny of the space.

Proudest DIY: The loft bed which is more like a DIWD (“do it with dad”, if you will). It was an awesome experience to work with my father since I’ve been away at school and I always miss my family. It makes the space feel less like a studio and allows me to have a spacious desk which I desperately need to think and work.

Biggest Indulgence: My Eames rocker. Literally every high priced item I own (including technology) was purchased at steep discounts or second hand; otherwise there is no way I could afford what I have. The only piece I purchased for full price was the rocker. Two summers ago I filmed and edited a wedding for a family friend. With most of the money I made I instantly bought the chair. I had been studying and appreciating the Eames’s work for a year without the necessary funds to afford it. When this opportunity presented itself the rocker was an obvious choice. I think it is a perfect symbol of modernity in design and I connected with it instantly. I look forward to passing this object down in my family and hopefully they will treasure and appreciate it as much I do.

Best Advice: Keep it simple.

Dream Sources: Hands down, BDDW. I have yet to find a company that matches my values in terms of aesthetics, craftsmanship, business practices, and design. Their work flawlessly combines modern design with beautiful hints of the natural world. Neither element overwhelms the other and I think the final result is a harmonious balance of minimal & organic. I can’t visit SoHo without stopping into their showroom to browse. And although their prices are astronomically high (which I believe are well deserved), I’ve promised myself to one day own at least something from them. Their work is really like poetry or music — not just something you sit in or use but something you contemplate and enjoy for the rest of your life. That is good design.

Other Inspiration: My cat and John Cage

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• Some generic things that tend to work so I keep them around.

• vintage midcentury daybed
• vintage midcentury coffee table
• Herman Miller Eames rocker
• Philippe Starck Victoria ghost chair
• Knoll Bertoia chair
• Herman Miller Aeron chair
• Cubits shelving system
• IKEA floor mirror
• IKEA Melltorp dining table (used as desk)

• I don’t have many accessories. I have a teapot on display from a local artist, Teresa Chang, that I think is very beautiful.

• Josef Albers — Homage to the Square (repo, of course)
• Cy Twombly — Untitled (Gagosian exhibition poster)
• Gilbert Lesser — Equss poster (original Broadway print from 1976)

• IKEA Fado lamps
• Vintage table lamp from my grandmother (used at desk)

• I stitched them with IKEA dishtowels

• Sheepskin rug

• Behr — Lagoon

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Thanks Mike!

Images: Kristen Lubbe

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