Alvin's voice is like listening to the best parts of a party that happened the day after. When he moved into this plain one-bedroom apartment with its basic materials a little over a year ago, he saw only a blank canvas waiting for fun.
There would be moments built for photos, he says, and furniture set for conversation. People could flip through curated books over cocktails, dance in the kitchen, or simply admire the views. “The apartment was nothing but where I’d eat and sleep—I didn’t want it to be that,” he says.
Alvin is a 38-year-old graphic designer and photographer who works for the fashion label Public School (he also moonlights as one of their models). He had been living with his partner in a large Tribeca loft they shared with friends, but when they moved out he suddenly had a lot of spare space.
“I put my ego aside and thought about what I actually need,” he says. “I just wanted a simple place where I could host people and not be tripping over things.” The apartment was originally just over 900 square feet, with three bedrooms and two full baths, but Alvin has turned one of the bedrooms into an office with a built-in desk.
The living room, where he spends most of his time, is airy and open—it’s not quite “perfect,” but Alvin says it’s polished enough for friends to come over without expecting to wash their own dishes. Most evenings are spent on the sofa with his roommates, watching movies or nature docs on the Apple TV.
“I just wanted a simple place where I could host people and not be tripping over things.” Alvin shares that he had his friends' words of inspiration in mind when designing this room, including one who once told him, "Alvin, your goal should be to make your guests feel so comfortable, they don't want to leave."
The centerpiece of the living room is undoubtedly the view. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a panorama that takes in the Manhattan skyline, the East River, and Queensboro Bridge.The apartment is peppered with thoughtful details that Alvin has collected over the years. His grandmother collected frog statues, which are scattered throughout the apartment. Other pieces include a pile of rocks that his sister found on vacation in California, an antique window frame from his parents, and prints by the artist James Jean, an old roommate’s work currently being shown at Frieze New York.