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Interiorssneak peeks

A Bright, Evolving Apartment for Life & Growing Creative Works

by Kelli Kehler

When  and her husband Shane Jezowski were looking to move to Brooklyn from Philadelphia three years ago, they faced a bit of sticker shock. At the time, their beloved Philly place boasted lots of space and a rooftop garden, and their search for a new apartment in Brooklyn yielded rentals Erica had trouble envisioning as a place for creation — as a multidisciplinary artist, Erica’s home must also serve as a studio to create her ceramics, drawings, installations and relational projects. Home needs to feel inspiring to her, and nothing in their search seemed to fit the bill.

Just when she was about to throw in the towel and commit to a lackluster apartment, Erica and Shane stumbled upon a place in Bushwick. “After months of hitting refresh on Craigslist almost hourly I happened to be the first person to respond to the ad for this apartment,” Erica says. “We drove up to look at it and we were dumbfounded. It was so much better than all the others; we thought there must be a catch. We put down a deposit within 20 minutes and the broker cancelled the eight other showings she had that night. We got so lucky.”

They moved in with their cat, Boofy Prince, and went to work making the 1930s classic railroad apartment feel like home, ensuring it was suitable for ‘s creations and Shane’s work, too, as an artist and project manager at a . For a while, the all-white walls worked wonders on the small, 550-square-foot space, but last winter, Erica felt an urge to change it up. “In an effort to thwart my seasonal depression and trick myself into thinking I was staring into a deep blue ocean I texted Shane, ‘Do you want to paint the kitchen blue tonight?’ and he just wrote back, ‘Sure.’ Without much deliberation I picked out a color and we stayed up late painting and making blue jokes. It was completely impulsive but it seemed to be the finishing touch that we needed to make the space feel like our own. It somehow makes things feel more exotic and romantic and less like a rental. The blue changes drastically throughout the day, from a deep, dark, comforting blue in the morning to a brighter, upbeat blue in the afternoon sun.”

This tonal shift is arguably the most striking facet of the apartment and serves as an apt parallel to both Erica’s work — whether it be her whimsical and ever-versatile or her pop-up installation, — and her view on designing one’s surroundings. “We are all works in progress and so are our homes,” Erica shares. “There is no such thing as ‘done’ when it comes to self-actualization or interior design. I think people should embrace the fact that we are all evolving, changing beings — our spaces reflect that and change with us.” —

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Image above: The blue-painted kitchen and a sculptural piece by Erica sitting on the dining nook’s table. “My ceramics are intended to adapt to the personality and priorities of their owner in the moment. The freedom to celebrate the multi-faceted and ever-evolving self feels especially important in the current political climate.”

1/20

“I often set myself up for a long day of hand-building next to the windows — I can hear people talking as they pass by on the street below,” Erica begins. “It’s fun to listen to little snippets from other lives, it keeps me from feeling too isolated in my own world. There’s a massive catholic church across the street and on Sundays I can hear the bells ringing. Shane built this custom wall unit for me for my birthday last year. I have a special place in my heart for cubbies perfectly sized to the item that fits inside. He also made these patterned radiator covers, cut on the CNC mill, that are throughout the apartment.”

2/20

A ceramic piece by Erica holding fruits and flowers sits in front of a John Lim print that hung in her childhood home. To the right from the kitchen, you can spy the bathroom and shower curtain printed with a Beth Hoeckel collage.

3/20

“One of my larger ceramics, Nouveau Fountain, in the afternoon light. I love creating large formal arrangements that feel like the interior design version of power-overdressing. From here you can get a glimpse of my fire escape garden, complete with pink flamingo. Every day I climb out this window to water the plants and see if there are any new blooms to cut and style in my ceramics,” Erica shares.

4/20

“I’ve always loved brightly colored mid-century inspired kitchens,” Erica notes. “In a former life, this big butcher block was my friend Dan Schein’s studio table — he’s a very messy painter and it was covered in thick layers of muddy-colored dried oil paint. It required a lot of elbow grease to clean it up but it was so worth it.”

5/20

“My studio, where the magic happens. It’s not a big space but it is always bustling with activity. I love working from home because my practice is inspired by interior design and object arrangement. I really don’t make a distinction between art-making space and living space. It all blends together. On the wall is my extruder- a crucial tool for making the hollow tubes for my ceramics.”

6/20

Erica says, “I found this shelf on the street and it’s the perfect display shelf for ceramics. These ladies are modeling wigs from my extensive wig collection that I use for my Transformational Makeover project.”

7/20

“I love styling and photographing the ceramics almost as much as I love making them. This is Boofy, my soulmate and dedicated studio assistant. He is often found tiptoeing amongst fragile pieces on my desk or trying to awkwardly sit in my lap while I work.”

8/20

More glimpses of Erica’s studio inside the apartment. She shares, “My Joe Columbo Boby Trolly! A mid-century design classic that’s even in MoMA’s collection, seen here in full studio mode. My family jokes that this vintage tape dispenser is ‘a family heirloom’ — it was my Dad’s when he was a graphic designer back when they did everything by hand, then my mom used it when she had her own floral arranging business, and now it’s mine! A rolling pin for making clay slabs. Shane teases me because I have a lot of kitchen tools that I’ve never used for cooking — only for clay.”

9/20

Various ephemera related to Erica’s in-progress works and styling of finished pieces.

10/20

“My collection of mid-century women’s magazines. All you need to do is open to a random page to remind yourself that truth is stranger than fiction.”

11/20

Erica tells us, “All of my ceramic containers are multifunctional and can hold a variety of objects. They are intentionally neutral in order to adapt to the personality and priorities of their owner. Here, a container holds a collection of lipsticks and a single rose.”

12/20

“Glaze tests that have turned into a necklace of sorts, a found photo from August 1945, a ‘lipstick gun’ I made as part of a commissioned halloween costume for Vice Magazine and a stack of preliminary surveys from the Transformational Makeover Salon.”

13/20

A view through the studio into the bedroom. Erica shares, “In true New York style, I sleep right next to where I work. The boxes above the door are 80s IKEA from my childhood. When I was really young, I drew pictures of cats on the inside of the lids. The blue and red train cases hold all of my makeup for the . When I first started the project in 2014 I would go to people’s houses like the Avon lady with these two cases in tow.”

14/20

“Because the bed is so close to the studio it is sometimes where drawing, journaling, list making and thinking happens… It was crucial that the apartment fulfill our creative needs and that meant prioritizing work spaces over leisure spaces. We don’t have a couch and we really only have one rela chair. We still love to entertain and we try not to be self-conscious about the lack of a hangout area. We just laugh about it when we have friends over and we have to invite them to sit on our bed.

Shane made the geometric steel table when he was in graduate school for sculpture. He welded it from leftover bits from other sculptures and finished it with a ‘dirty penny’ patina. When we first started dating this table caught my eye and I couldn’t help but daydream about a future of making beautiful things together.”

15/20

A salon wall of art in the bedroom comprised of works from friends, family, past students, objects from travels and personal pieces.

We know so many talented artists and most of the pieces have been acquired through gifts and trades. Every piece has a story behind it and I could go on about them forever.

16/20

Erica shares, “Shane’s father was a drug dealer in Florida (he never did drugs, he was just very entrepreneurial) who was on the run from the FBI for most of his childhood. During that time he lived in LA under an alias and finally had time to pursue his art — the circular ceramic piece is one of his, with hidden symbolism representing his 3 sons and Shane’s mother. The embroidered and indigo dyed belt (upper right) is from my time staying with the Black Hmong of North Vietnam, a native group known for their intricate textiles. In the mirror you can see the back of my best friend Natalie Prass’ new album, The Future and The Past — it’s such a musical masterpiece and I did all the creative direction for the album packaging. The pink finger puppet is an abstracted portrait of me by my dear friend Heather Robinson. I think she captured my essence.”

17/20

“I found this trunk at a neighbor’s yard sale when I was 11 and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. The neighbor painted and decoupaged it for her sister, whose favorite color was lavender, when she went off to college in the early 80s. There’s even a picture of young Harrison Ford hidden in there. The ‘painting’ on the wall is Shane’s — it’s made from a single drill bit on a continuous spiral tool path on the CNC mill cutting though layer upon layer of plywood. The velvet pillow was made by my Nana who is now 100 years old. She was quite the seamstress, making all of her own fabulous outfits and her house back in the day was very glamorous — all crystal and silver and velvet.”

18/20

“Shane’s office is an engineering station, sculpture studio and gym all at once. Recently, he’s been researching the potentialities of container homes and sustainable architecture. The screen prints above his desk are part of a series of . Shane is a Florida boy at heart and desperately misses swimming, so these at least give him the visual satisfaction of having a pool nearby,” Erica shares.

19/20

In the entryway next to Shane’s office, a multipurpose radiator cover that Erica and Shane designed together. The Eames hang-it-all organizer holds butterfly wings for Boofy.

20/20

Erica shares, “I am so grateful for my studio space but it is a challenge to have so many projects going on simultaneously in a small space… It’s not ideal to be working with clay in a domestic space — there’s certainly clay dust that gets tracked throughout the house. I also have to transport all of my ceramics to a shared kiln to fire them. Its a bit of a logistical nightmare but a surprising amount of Brooklyn ceramicists do it this way. Someday I hope to have a larger workspace with my own kiln so I can work bigger and more ambitiously. For now, I’m making the absolute most of what I have.”

SOURCE LIST

Kitchen

Wall color – “Athens Blue” by Benjamin Moore
Pearl River Mart paper lanterns
Wedgewood china
Dansk cookware
Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book from 1953
Striped ceramic vase by Jessica Hans
Refurbished antique tool cart
Refurbished butcher block table
Oval ceramic platter by Lea Griggs
Square cutting board by Jon Epstein
Eel platter by Mylinh Chau
Screenprint by John Lim
Ceramics by Erica Prince
Shower curtain by Beth Hoeckel
Vintage dining table
Wayfair Chairs
Na Kim painted ceramic
Found antique stained glass restored by John Prince

Bedroom

Vintage bedding, lamps and headboard
Steel table by Shane Jezowski
Ikea Poäng chair
Blue velvet pillow made by Erica’s Nana
Ikea Nordli drawers
Found decoupaged and painted vintage trunk
Radiator cover and record holder by Shane and Erica
Artwork credits: carved wood pieces above bed and trunk by Shane Jezowski

Salon wall from left to right, top to bottom:
Image 1: Christina Barrera, Brynn Higgins-Stirrup, Sharon Koelblinger, Matthew Craig, Erica Prince, Allison Anderson, Brynn Higgins-Stirrup, John Prince, Erica Prince, Tara Booth, Erica Prince, Shane Jezowski (sculpture covered in necklaces), Amber Cowan, Mylinh Chau + Erica Prince, Wedding photo by Eddie Winter

Image 2: Erica Prince, Michael Jezowski, Julie Weitz, The Black Hmong of N Vietnam, Su A Chae, Ikea Mirror, Sofia Macht, Sean Quinn, Heather Robinson, John Prince (photo), Andre Ponticello (shipping containers), Antique tramp art jewelry box, Young Do Jeong (ceramic)

Erica’s Studio

All ceramics and drawings by Erica Prince
Joe Columbo Boby 3 Portable Storage System
Vintage Scotch tape dispenser
Vintage Ikea storage boxes
Vintage Samsonite “American Tourister” train cases

Shane’s office

WaterRower machine from MoMA Design store
Pool Prints by Norma Studio
Steel tank barricade model by Shane Jezowski
Eames Hang-It-All
Handwoven basket by Skye Livingston
Radiator cover/shoe rack by Shane and Erica
Ikea rug

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Comments

  • I love the blue walls – what a fabulous color. Reminds me of my blue rental kitchen walls in my first apartment (a big pain though when I had to paint them over with white …)

  • I really like the depth of that blue, how Erica describes the process of choosing it and painting, and. her descriptions of the different blue moods during during the day. Also that’s a great ‘The thing I love . . ” shot with the candle holders!

  • What a cheerful, colorful and inspiring home. Those radiator covers are FANTASTIC! Such a great way to make the best out of the ubiquitous iron radiator. Rock on!

  • Such a creative space! I love that they forsook the typical living & dining areas in favor of art studios. I would love to see the floorplan… can we get a sketch??

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