Hawaii native Andrew Mau accepts that this historic Warren, RI apartment is a temporary stop on a much longer journey. What brings him to town is a one-year stint with local maker O&G Studio, where Andrew is collaborating on a new collection that will soon debut at ICFF in New York. For eight months now, the prolific furniture and product designer, creative director, and consultant (among other things) has nested in a 650-square-foot rental that occupies half the second floor of the 1809 Federal-style Samuel Randall House. The place is so legit it even has a dedicated website.
Andrew and his girlfriend, the quilter Meg Callahan, had previously taken a yearlong roadtrip with stretches in Oklahoma, San Francisco, and Hawaii. Even with so much experience setting up temporary dwellings, the concept of a longer short-term stay still posed a challenge to the designer. He needed to avoid any redundant purchases, as he maintains a storage unit full of “good stuff” elsewhere, though Meg brought some of it to her new spot in Seattle. In a residence without an expiration date, Andrew tends to rearrange, collect, and sell items often as his personal tastes evolve, and he enjoys experimenting with arrangements of objects in space. However, in the Warren apartment, Andrew had to be more strategic, and relied on lots of thrifting, IKEA for bedding, and borrowed items from friends. His employers even hooked him up with some choice sample pieces.
Living in an older home of this caliber has its obvious charms, but also poses its own set of obstacles: Andrew had to work around the relatively fewer number of outlets, the slanted floors, and old plumbing in the building. However, as someone who makes things for a living might know best, “Generally speaking, things that don’t work can often be fixed.” Everything, that is, except the old toilet in a “Harry Potter” bathroom under the staircase. “It flushes what seems like 45 gallons of water with a success rate of 40%.” This is a small price to pay when a 360º lookout room sits atop the house, from where you have an uninterrupted view of the coves and bays nearby. Additionally, Andrew appreciates the mission of the Warren Preservation Society, which is the town’s nonprofit historic conservancy that acts as his landlord. “It’s a beautiful project, and I’m so lucky to have been able to support it. It’s a magical house,” he shares, similarities to fictional wizard’s residences notwithstanding. –Annie
Photography by Andrew Mau, except where noted.