amy azzaritointerior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: jen mankins of bird

by Amy Azzarito

confession – i’m a little giddy right now. bird is one of my absolute favorite nyc shops – my go-to place for super-cool special occasion outfits. so, i was thrilled when jen mankins agreed to give up a peek inside her carroll gardens, brooklyn home. one of my favorite things about bird is the vibrate colors and patterns that jen brings in – a breath of fresh air from the new york black! jen is constantly traveling – either for fashion shows in paris and milan or just for inspiration and after looking at her clothing buys for years, it’s fun to see how her aesthetic sensibility translates into her home! {thanks, jen! and many thanks to jessica antola for the lovely photographs!}amy a.

[My decorating style is really eclectic and it would be an understatement to say I am not a minimalist! I love to mix and match styles, textures, colors, the more the better.  My husband is Swedish and I have been traveling to Stockholm with him for 12 years now. I have been greatly influenced by Scandinavian design, with its clean modern lines and shapes, but I love it paired back to all the hand-crafts, art and objects we pick up from our other travels. My personal design aesthetic definitely comes through in my shops and vice versa, there’s a lot of cross over.  I have been really inspired by and have learned tons working with my great friend Ole Sondresen, the architect of my stores.  He hails from Norway so brings his own dose of Scandinavian design history, focusing on the quality and integrity of the materials and the construction. We both agree that you can never have too much beautiful wood in a space. And I always try to incorporate some Josef Frank fabric from Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm. I am obsessed!]

[I am really into pillows. Pillows and chairs!  I have more than I can even put out at this point.  The egg chair is probably our favorite.  Again, we considered lots of basic neutral options, but in the end went with our gut and chose mint green wool and I am so happy we did!  It matches all our plants and really brightens up the room.  The owl pillow is from a collection made of home spun wool produced by a women’s knitting collective in Kenya.  We sell them at Bird as gifts during the holidays.  This one is particularly snuggly! The quilt on the footstool is made from vintage saris from India.]

[image above: More pillows!  I made the two Josef Frank pillows from left-over scraps from the Cobble Hill store curtains.  Both the rooster pillow and the green pac-man pillow were gifts.  My mom just sent me this quilt from Texas.  It was my grandmother’s – although I’m not sure she made it herself.  The photo is by Shaniqwa Jarvis, an amazing New Yorker currently living and working in London.  This photo is from the inaugural art show at the Williamsburg shop last year when the store opened.]

CLICK HERE for more of Jen Mankin’s home! (and all the photos on one page!)

[image above: The fireplace is non-working, but I love the smooth pale quality of the white marble mantle contrasted with the ornate details of the metal fireplace grate. The artwork on the mantle is a mix of old and new. The main portrait of me and my husband, as well as the small square water and boat painting are by Cameron Goodyear. I have a huge collection of her paintings and drawings and wish I had a whole room to display them. The little intricate carvings are made from cork and were Christmas gifts last year from Erie Basin in Red Hook.]

[image above: The tall orange vase was a wedding present from the store Swallow on Smith Street and I bought the wooden flowers from the shop in the now closed Branch Gallery in Carborough, NC. The dried grasses were a dinner party gift. They started out as weedy looking sticks and by the end of the dinner had blossomed out into their full fluffy glory.]

[I love air-conditioning, but I don’t love how they look. Most of the year we don’t even use it, so I decided to cover it with a Josef Frank fabric sample I had from their showroom.  It was the perfect size, I didn’t even have to hem it.  I keep it in place with a collection of old soda bottles that I got at the medicinal market in Accra, Ghana.  They were full of dark-black honey which I drank as medicine for a bad cough I had while I was there.  My favorite thing about them is the name: Pee Cola!]

[image above: I love this view of our apartment.  It is what I see first thing every morning when I make tea and each night when I cook dinner.  We just recently decided to rearrange our bookcases by color and I can’t believe what a huge difference it made.  I remember things visually anyway, so I actually think it is easier to find books this way.  The wooden dining chairs are by Arne Jacobsen from Fritz Hansen.  We couldn’t decide on any one color so we decided to just get all our favorites.  That way they go with everything! We found the old work table at a vintage store on Court Street for $150.  It is a little too tall, and a little too skinny, but it works perfectly in the space.

[image above: The floral plate on the table is my latest treasure from Astier de Villatte in Paris.  They normally make everything in white, so needless to say I was ecstatic when I saw this experiment in color.  When I use it I pretend I am serving up a delicious seaside lunch  in Cap d’Antibes in the south of France. ]

[image above: I think the row of doors in our apartment is one of the funnier architectural elements.  When people come to visit they never know which door to choose.  It’s like the old game show…what’s behind door #3?!?]

[image above: My sister’s dog Nina also always tries to eat the pink squirrel!  I love needlework and embroidery especially when done in a modern design.  The big animal print one was on sale at Bergdorf’s and totally an impulse buy.  The butterfly is from Jonathan Adler and the little pink one is from when I was a baby. The bedding is all John Robshaw.  I can’t get enough!  I bought our first set as a present for my husband for our second wedding anniversary: cotton. The drawing over the bed was a gift from Japanese designer Akira Minagawa of Mina Perhonen.]

[image above: The desk is vintage Paul McCobb that I bought on eBay, one of my first and only eBay scores.  I don’t really use it for working (I prefer the dining table of course) so I have plenty of room to spread out more of my knickknacks.  The NYC/spaceship/subway drawings are from a homeless man named Joseph that sells his wares in the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station.  They are always the same theme: Alien spaceships attacking the NYC subway.  The colors and perspective are amazing.  The bird drawing is another gift from Akira for the opening of the Williamsburg store and the prints are from a collective started in the mid-90s called Subliminal Projects.  It was formed by an incredible group of artists including Shepard Fairey, Blaize Blouin, Phil Frost and Mike Mills. I have a ton of their original prints and skateboards that they made when we were in college in Rhode Island.]

[image above: The credenza was made by my good friend Sam Moyer in Los Angeles.  He makes the most amazing organic wooden furniture.  I originally bought this for one of my stores, but found it worked much better in our bedroom! The photos above the credenza are from an incredible Argentine photographer Ignacio (Nacho) Parodi. I met him while traveling in Buenos Aires for work a couple of years ago. The Chinese Zodiac drawings are by the mind-blowingly talented artist Jessica Dessner. She just started drawing a couple of years ago! So not fair. My orange glassware collection started with a couple of gifts from my grandmother’s collection of Mexican glassware.  My sister’s dog Nina always tries to eat the orange fox and the orange beaded necklace is from a trip I took to West Africa a decade ago.  There is also a copy of our wedding invitation addressed to us by calligrapher Bernard Maisner.  I don’t think our names will ever be written more beautifully!]

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  • I just moved into an apartment filled with beautiful unpainted wood, this apartment is so inspiring!! I love how colorful and cheery it is and it still has white walls. Thank you, I’m going to save a fortune on paint.

  • I loved the pictures. It seems as though every corner has a different story to tell. I loved the art, the colors, everything!

  • love the photographs above the credenza and all the little trinkets displayed throughout the spaces! the colors are so cheery. cute!

  • I was initially sold by the awesome egg chair, but the rest of the place is just as beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  • very cool. thanks for sharing.

    and, if you don’t mind sharing a bit more, where did you get that great living room rug?!

    please and thanks …

  • what a great home, so full of color and life! I adore all the little touches, back stories of all her treasured objects (great mix of art from listed and unlisted artists) and especially love that view of her apartment with the bookcase. it has me seriously considering organizing my books by color though I’ve resisted until now, thinking only minimalists did that. i’ll be back to swoon some more over these photos!

  • So beautiful, fun, and personal! I just added to my collection of mis-matched John Robshaw bedding; love to see how other fans combine theirs.

    The “hugs” (needlepoint?) pillow is so awesome. Can I still buy one somewhere?

  • Such a cool home! If I could make my place look like just one of Jen’s rooms I’d be quiet happy. Thanks for sharing, it’s definitely sparked my imagination as to what I should do next.

  • I love the personal style of this house with so many objects that have some of the owners.The bright colors and soft … Very inspiring!Regards

  • I arrange my books by color, too, and I agree that it’s easier that way! (For me, at least.) The fact that it looks so nice is a lovely side effect. Beautiful apartment!

  • This is gorgeous! Just a quick question: what are you using to store your records? Are those just crates? It looks great and I am desperate for a storage solution for my records.

  • Lovely use of colours and accessories. I also like the soft furnishings. Very inspiring, I adore the fire place and Egg Chair!

  • Such a beautiful house. every corner of house is very well decorated with a new concept thanks for sharing these beautiful pics.

  • I am a huge fan of Josef Frank’s fabric designs and about once a year I spend a week obsessively visiting the Svenkstenn website. But the yardage is so expensive. Do you buy it direct from the website, through an interior decorator, an American importer, or what? I’d love any advice you have.

  • Books arranged by color! As a newly minted librarian I think this is an amazing idea and I wish all book shelves could be organized this way. Beautiful!

  • Does anyone know what type of lamps are flanking the bed – they look more exquisite than your typical paper lantern.

  • This truly feels like home to me! Cozy, colorful, full of warm wood and vibrant hues and prints and textures so varied and exciting that you practically want to eat them…love it.

  • Hi what a great home. Say, does anyone know where those awesome hexagonal coffee tables might come from. They are so cool!

  • ditto on all the above kudos…but Need to know Too-where did you get those lanterns on either side of the bed? and the wood framed embroidery?(is it a heart with a cross?) on the right of the bedroom credenza, close-up pic further up…thanks for sharing your cherished home, much lovely inspiration.

  • Gorgeous! Could you let me know where the lovely lantern style wall lamps in the bedroom are from?

  • I don’t think I have words that are sufficient enough to describe how much I appreciate the beauty of your place. You did a beyond fantastic job. I especially love the colours. I think it makes homes look more lived in and welcoming. Sterile white is for the hospitals only. Can you tell me the name of the blue chair and where you did buy it? I would like to own something like that for the comfort. Again, thank you for posting this. You should be extremely proud of the hard work you put into your home because it has paid off. AMAZING!