As the cofounder of Abbott, a men’s fragrance line whose scents are inspired by campfires and suede bomber jackets, Jose Alvarez has a masculine style influenced by his travels and adventures.
So when he and his girlfriend, Brooke, moved into a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, loft that was formerly an Esquire Shoe Polish factory in the early 1900s, he wanted to keep its rough concrete and exposed brick interior intact. “We wanted to maintain the integrity of the space but create a home where we could live and grow,” Alvarez, who left the finance world to start Abbott with Michael Pass earlier this year, told Business Insider.
To help make his space feel more cosy, Alvarez relied on Homepolish, a startup that has designed spaces for startups and homeowners alike. We talked to Alvarez and designer Jae Joo about the home.
Alvarez cofounded Abbott after 10 years working in finance, which included stints at Morgan Stanley, ING, and Citigroup. When it came to decorating the home, designer Joo sourced inspiration from Brooklyn flea markets, antique stores in Upstate New York, and Alvarez's outgoing personality. 'Jose is a free spirit and refreshingly adventurous,' Joo told Business Insider.
'My focus was to create a polished canvas so that despite the grand scale of the loft, it could become a relaxed and inviting home,' Joo said.
To offset the industrial style of the loft, Joo kept the layout open, and the colour palette mostly neutral.
The massive, 14-foot custom shelving is filled with Alvarez's personal collections: items that Joo notes 'invites someone to take a closer look.' 'The most amazing feature about this space is the height. We wanted to figure out how to showcase the height and encourage our guests' eyes up,' Alvarez said.
'I wanted to highlight (the exposed brick and concrete) by adding softer edges and maintaining the open and organic feel by using neutral tones, and big leaf plants that would compete with the size and proportions of the room,' Joo said.
Part of what makes the home welcoming is the large dining room table. 'We love hosting our friends and family for large dinners and get-togethers,' Alvarez said. 'Our favourite (dishes) include Nicaragua food -- which is where I am originally from -- and pizza from (the Brooklyn restaurant) Emily Squared, which is Brooke's favourite food.'
Before Alvarez, a painter lived in the loft. 'You can still see his paint scattered on the cement floor,' Alvarez said.
For Alvarez, it's the history of the building that drew him to it. 'Many of the new buildings (in) Manhattan and Brooklyn seem to look the same. Very modern and sleek. What speaks to me is something that feels lived in, which is very much how I would describe my style,' he said.
'(Alvarez) truly appreciated the process of this project, which is usually considered pretty inconvenient to people with a hectic schedule,' Joo said.
'The collaboration was seamless,' Alvarez said. 'Jae truly understood our aesthetic and was able to incorporate that into her design while challenging us with her skill and imagination.'
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