A Masculine Lair in Downtown Brooklyn
Accessories designer Adam Davidson combines resourcefulness and refinement in his urban-rustic retreat
A do-it-yourself ethos led Adam Davidson to an unexpected career in the fashion industry. While working as an architect in New York City, he began collecting leather scraps, upholstery samples, and bits of wallpaper to make handbags and other accessories. “I had a friend working in interior design who would gift me leftover materials,” he remembers. “It was a hobby, but eventually I started becoming more ambitious about the complexity of the bags.”
In 2010, encouraged by acquaintances who owned a boutique, he created a capsule collection featuring a navy duffel he had originally designed for his boyfriend, Owen Wright. The Sea Bag became a bestseller, presaging good things to come for his newly launched accessories label, AANDD—now an in-demand line of satchels, totes, backpacks, and wristlets in streamlined silhouettes made of premium leather.
Davidson’s resourcefulness is evident in the Downtown Brooklyn apartment he shares with Wright, a fellow West Coast native with a similar hands-on attitude. “It’s our natural inclination to make something rather than buy it,” says the designer. After renting the 1,000-square-foot loft more than a decade ago, Wright reconfigured the open floor plan by building partial-height walls to carve out a kitchen and bedroom. When Davidson moved in eight years later, he set out to make the apartment more functional and polished: a fashionably rustic home with a midcentury vibe. Or, as the designer says, half jokingly, “It became less shabby and more chic.”
A red freestanding fireplace from the 1960s, purchased by the couple on Craigslist, is the living room’s showpiece. Nearby stands a one-of-a-kind coffee table that Wright crafted out of a wood box, a concrete block, and casters. Two vintage stainless-steel chairs, reupholstered by Davidson in tan bridle leather, face a low-slung black sofa from BoConcept.
The adjacent dining area features another Craigslist find: a cherry credenza designed by Renzo Rutili in the 1950s for Johnson Furniture. It pairs well with the Scandinavian-style table and chairs, whose seats are covered in a cobalt suede fabric chosen by Davidson. Above the table is a large George Nelson pendant light that he acquired for free from an architecture firm that was closing down. “I carried it with me on the subway,” he says, chuckling at the memory.
Despite the kitchen’s tiny size, the pass-through window creates a sense of spaciousness. The streamlined space is also well equipped, with pots suspended from hooks, a collection of chef’s knives stored on a magnetic strip, and an Italian espresso machine on the counter. “We’re both from Seattle,” says Davidson. “Coffee is important.” The couple often host Sunday dinners for friends and neighbors, a group of artists, photographers, and film-industry professionals. “We entertain all the time. One of my favorite things about the apartment is having the space to do that,” Davidson adds.
When they’re not in New York, the couple spends time in northeastern Nevada, where they bought a cabin. A few of their own photos of rocks, tree stumps, and shrubs from that region’s desert landscape now hang above their headboard. The entire loft, in fact, is filled with objects that have special meaning for its dwellers, such as a Karl Lagerfeld painting by the entrance that Wright painted for Davidson. "My first job in Manhattan was as a concierge at the Mercer Hotel. At the time, Lagerfeld was staying there a lot, and I loved watching him and his entourage. His work ethic and sense of purpose became an inspiration to me," explains Davidson. A shelf on an adjacent wall displays a collection of travel mementos, including a papier-mâché helmet from Mexico City and pompoms from Sayulita. The display is richly layered yet pleasingly spare—just like the apartment itself. “Our possessions melded together really well,” says the designer. “Both of us value travel and exploration over accumulation.”