The Brooklyn of today is utterly unrecognizable compared to what it was just 10 years ago: Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue went from being a Polish family area to a 24/7 hipster parade. Most recently, an artisanal porridge shop opened in Park Slope–a metaphorical tombstone of the gritty borough Jay-Z described in “Brooklyn (We Go Hard).”
Design Brooklyn: Renovation, Restoration, Innovation, a new book by Anne Hellman, chronicles the compelling changes in residential and commercial architecture and interior design in a borough that’s quickly replacing Manhattan as New York’s main hub of arts and culture. The book showcases the crème de la crème of Brooklyn design, broken into four sections: Renovation, Restoration, Innovation, and Industry.
One of the featured residential tours gives a peek inside the renovated Cobble Hill townhouse of Beastie Boy Mike D. Raised in Brooklyn by an interior designer and an art dealer, Mike D has design in his DNA. “I think it’s the sense of community that Brooklyn is able to have that Manhattan is a little too chaotic and dense to have,” he says in an interview in the book’s forward. “I’ve always considered it normal to be very conscious and aware of every aesthetic decision.”
His townhouse, where he lives with filmmaker Tamra Davis and their sons, is filled with Brooklyn-designed wallpaper, furniture, lighting, and curtains. And the man who famously promised there would be “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” now gets his rest in an antique bed he had stripped and refurbished.
Also featured is a study of the 1899 ship hangar at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is being renovated and re-purposed into a 77,000-square-foot cooperative workspace called New Lab. David Belt, founder of developer Macro Sea, Inc., collaborated with Bushwick-based arts collective 3rd Ward in coming up with the New Lab model, which will support the work of design entrepreneurs. “The idea is to create a true collective, with no one institution or entity overseeing everyone else,” Belt explains in the book. Designed by Macro Sea and Rogers Marvel Architects, New Lab is scheduled to open later this year, and will provide not only office and studio space, but also access to 3-D molding machines, 3-D printers, and water jets.
Design Brooklyn also offers a compendium of creatively designed restaurants like Greenpoint’s Bellocq Tea Atelier, with a rustic fireplace that turns a dank warehouse into a cozy parlor, or Roberta’s in Bushwick, which is made ad hoc with doors as tabletops and a pizza oven cleverly installed via a hole in the roof.
There is a chapter devoted to profiling and interviewing 21 “Designers in Their Studios”–including Elasticco in Gowanus, Grow House Grow! in Bushwick, and Egg Collective in Clinton Hill. The photographs here are eye-candy for anyone with a creative approach towards interiors or with a healthy curiosity about how this borough has evolved. You can buy Design Brooklyn for $25 here.