Yesterday was unseasonably warm and gorgeous in Brooklyn. The temperature topped 75 degrees, and there wasn’t a gray cloud in the sky. We spent a good chunk of our Sunday at the Brooklyn Flea, scarfing down pork-ragu pasta and bubble tea (I know that’s an odd combo, but both were delicious) while watching the boats go by the Williamsburg waterfront. While we were walking around the flea, I noticed a vendor, Fat Dog Fabrication, with a clever sign on its tables. The sign said, “Custom is the New Vintage,” and it immediately struck me as spot on. I’m not sure why it made me stop in my tracks, but it did.
When I started D*S, buying “new” things (particularly things that were shiny, smooth and made of some sort of innovative plastic-type material) was all the rage. Then slowly over the past five years, shiny newness was replaced with a passion for and rediscovery of all things vintage. Buying vintage has been a badge of pride for a while now — I’ve seen “I Buy Vintage!” bumper stickers, blog headers and ads all over the place, and even at D*S, we seem to rarely feature a home tour, makeover or DIY project that doesn’t involve something vintage. As much as buying vintage is a way of life for many (and hopefully many more as the years go on), it is most definitely considered a “trend” for others. While I hope that most of us will continue to love and support vintage sellers, I know that it’s human nature to keep looking for something that feels fresh and new. And lately, I’ve started to feel like that trend is “custom.”
I remember having a conversation in 2004, when I started D*S, with a Pratt student about how custom work seemed elitist. We both associated it with astronomical price tags and penthouse apartments. But as I get older, I’ve started to realize that it’s not (at least, not always) elitist, and it is, more often than not, about investing in a great local artist and working with your budget and style to create something so special and functional that you’ll keep it for years to come. And I think that’s an idea we can all get behind as a worthwhile new interest or “trend.”
But I wonder whether this feeling has permeated the community as a whole. As such, I thought I’d ask you guys how you feel. I’d love to get your opinions on these custom-related ideas:
- Have you ever considered custom design for your home (furniture, artwork, etc.)?
- Do you think you could afford custom work (on any scale) for your home?
- Do you think custom furniture is a good option, or would you prefer to customize things on your own (DIY-style)?
I’m curious to see how you all feel about this topic, and whether or not custom still has a “pricey” stigma attached to it. I’ve been thrilled to find custom furniture listed under $500 all over Brooklyn, so I have high hopes that affordable custom work is something we can all look forward to in the next few years. Not only does it let you get something that works for your style and your life, but it also gives you the rare opportunity to work hand-in-hand with a local artist and get to see that artist’s process (and talent) in action — something that’s really hard to do when you’re just ordering a chair online. xo, grace