Tinkerer. Wanderer. Sultan of the Snooze Button. We join Snarkitecture co-founder Alex Mustonen on his daily walk to the office.
“On the average day I hit the snooze button for 45 minutes. I just don’t think I have this whole morning thing in me.”
“My morning aspiration is coffee and breakfast here at my apartment… maybe 20 minutes with the paper,” Alex Mustonen half-laughs to himself as he stands sleepily in the kitchen of his Greenpoint loft. “But on the average day I hit the snooze button for 45 minutes. I just don’t think I have it in me.”
Mustonen is the co-founder of Brooklyn-based design firm, Snarkitecture, along with his partner, artist Daniel Arsham. A quick glance at their website provides a quirky mission statement: “Snarkitecture is the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.” The team specializes in a wide range of services (they, for example, transformed the Park Avenue Armoury for designer label En Noir’s Fall 2014 runway show), from large-scale installations to reimagining ordinary objects. In the Harry’s offices we have more than a few fans of their “pillow” – a heavy, gypsum cement creation that appears as a soft, fluffy form cradling one’s iPhone.
Alex has a dry, world-weary sense of humor. He’s unassumingly hip and so is his place – the only apartment he’s ever lived in in New York. “I moved here in 2001 with six friends,” he tells us. “It’s funny, because everything we’re doing in the studio eventually comes back to stuff I need for my house. Like I needed this long dining table, so we built one.” He laughs. Back to his routine: “My hesitancy to get up in the morning as a kid has followed me into adulthood. I guess I just really love to sleep.”
Post snooze button, Mustonen wakes up in his lofted bed. Depending on his schedule, he either grabs a quick shower or skips it altogether, and washes his face with water. “I probably haven’t truly shaved in a month,” he says about his stubble. “I knock it down with a trimmer. And I wear contacts and use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer.” He throws on a button-front shirt, chinos and a chukka boot designed in partnership with Del Toro Shoes.
Then, it’s time for his daily walk. “I go the same way every day,” Alex tells us as we walk from his building into the bright sunshine. “I always listen to music on my white headphones, and I try to hold out for coffee until I get to Champion, on Manhattan Avenue – a few blocks from the studio.” Mustonen also has a distinct strategy honed from years of this same jaunt. “The side of the street I walk on is dictated by the season and the light situation – I always try to stay in the sun.” He adds: “The walk isn’t necessarily ‘pretty’, but it really feels like Greenpoint to me – like a community.” Champion is a cozy spot with worn wood floors. Alex orders an Americano.
“I go the same way every day. I always listen to music on my white headphones, and I try to hold out for coffee until I get to Champion, on Manhattan Avenue.”
The Snarkitecture office is basically organized chaos. Arsham’s personal work takes up the front of the studio, and large white desks are sandwiched together in the back. Drake is playing loudly on the stereo, and Alex runs us through some of their latest projects for Design Week. “Unless we have a meeting, most of my day is spent right here,” he says as he plops down into his white office chair. He pulls his wallet, keys, phone and headphones out of his pockets and lays them out on his desk in perfect symmetry. As we say goodbye, we’re reminded of what Alex said earlier about his apartment that seems to apply here, as well: “It still feels unsettled even though I’ve been here for so long. I guess we’re just in a constant state of evolution.”