12 May 2009

I want to smack this kid

Last week, my hero Decorno ran a piece about a story from New York magazine. She introduced this story as one of her world-famous discussion topics. I thought it was over. But this story has taken on a life of its own and so I'm going to weigh in too. Enjoy the free publicity kid and remember that any press is good press.

This is Maximilian Sinsteden's dorm room at Drew University in Madison, NJ.

Young Max is a 21-year-old senior with enough connections to get a spread in New York magazine and I can't fault him for his pluck. His aesthetic sensibilities on the other hand leave me cold. I call it affected clutter.

I can't tell if the affectation is coming from young Max or from the breathless commentary provided by New York magazine. You tell me.

The standing lamp is Ikea. The wall is covered with artwork by him and his friends; paintings and documents from Jaipur and Bombay; a model from Charlotte Moss; and pieces collected from “tag sales, thrift and consignment stores.”
It's the "paintings and documents from Jaipur and Bombay" that about push me to the edge. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with Indian cities, even if the people of Bombay call it Mumbai now. A little colonialism never hurt anybody, right?

The tie-backs are repurposed ascots.
That's all the photo caption says. Really. Repurposed ascots. No one other than Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited has ascots lying around and waiting to be repurposed. Argh.

He keeps the bathroom caddy affixed to the mirror with suction cups.
So clever that Max.

The tie rack is by Sinsteden’s father, with finials from P.E. Guerin. The chest of drawers is an $80 thrift-store find.
Good Lord, it looks like a Polo store display. There was a time when stores and hotels tried to recreate a homey atmosphere. Now, so thoroughly has the idea of merchandising penetrated our culture that people try to recreate stores and hotels in their homes. I guess the goal is to make their private space more what? Commercial? I don't get it. 

So am I just a bitter, soon-to-be 44-year-old man? Is there something admirable about this kid's dorm room I'm missing?


  1. Thank you! I've got to say, everyone is swooning, but the kid and the room just irritate me. It's so easy! All I need to throw together a room like this is a trip to the thrift store! And Jaipur... and be friends with Charlotte Moss...

  2. Jaipur indeed. It's such a pose. If the kid had actually been to India (hell, even if he knows Jaipur's in India it would be one thing, but I have a feeling that all that crap cluttering up that room is there for the pose and not the relation to his life. Surrounding yourself with interesting things doesn't make you interesting. On the contrary, interesting people surround themselves with interesting things.

  3. He's 21, wears pink pants and has over decorated his dorm room. What's the fuss?

  4. I don't get it either Jeff. I don't get the fawning praise. Thanks for your comment by the way.

  5. I'm obviously out of the loop. Is this room supposed to be some great feat of interior design?? Because to me, it looks like a cluttered, mismatched mess!!

    Do 21 year old college students even wear ties??

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  6. I support you. This guy bugs the crap out of me and I don't even know him.

  7. Oh, come now. The kid's got it. Pose or not, how brilliant is this to garner such press at a young age? The influence of Albert Hadley and Bunny Williams is there. His dorm room looks so cool and unexpected from the typical Target Brown/Blue bed in the box overdone ensemble with particle board furniture. He is brilliantly navigating a successful career. Intern jobs with David Easton, Charlotte Moss. A summer job in London, followed by a semester in Rome? He is one to watch.

  8. Ugh. Just what the world needs. Yet another designer whose "signature" style trumps the wants and needs of the people who hire him.

  9. The bong and case of Old Mud are probably hidden underneath the couch and were most likely put back into service immediately after those pictures were taken.
    Paul, your line about ascots had me on the floor. This kid's a turd.

  10. Kelly, 21-year-old college students don't wear ties and I doubt this one does either. Ties-as-decor-item is ridiculous.

    Erika --thank you!

    Laurie --Thanks for tempering the conversation.

    Melody --I don't think this kids has a bong nor a case of Old Mud and I think that's what disturbs me the most.

  11. I love your blog, btw. Great work. Do you do much interior design work in Allendale? My great-grand-dad Cade Bush Allen built it. I've always wanted to wander through the homes where my grandmother grew up...

  12. Thanks Leigh. I live about a mile from Allendale but I've never done a job in that neighborhood. Great homes in there. I do a lot of work in the Old Northeast and Snell Isle though. Were you born in St. Pete then? I know a woman in Tampa who is related to Cade Bush Allen though I can't remember how she's connected. Anyhow, thanks!

  13. No, I've never been to St. Pete - born in SC near the NC border. I think the Allens had a home up there. There are beautiful homes there - I have a bunch of newspaper clippings from the '30s. Just gorgeous!
    Oh, and if you ever talk to the Tampa woman about this, I'm Esther's granddaughter.

  14. I think I know your aunt Leigh. That neighborhood's still beautiful, there really haven't been any tear-downs. Most of the houses are still originals. I love the brick streets. Maybe I need to do another photo safari in Allendale...

  15. Paul PLEASE do not take this comment personally; but we Canadians wud say "Only in America!" :)

  16. Hah! No offense taken Brenda, but there's a Canadian interior design program that runs on US TV from time to time called "Designer Guys." The designer guys in question are interior designers from Toronto. This kid would feel right at home on Designer Guys let me tell you. They might even teach him a thing or two. Please remember that "we Canadians" includes all of the shenanigans that happen in Toronto and Vancouver. Hah!

    I'm just playing along Brenda. I spent a huge chunk of my summers when I was a kid at my family's cottage in the sticks west of Ottawa by the way. And I mean in the sticks.

  17. He uses Suave, Paul... he can't be that 'with it'.


  18. Good on him for playing the market/airwaves. I'm envious of that skill. The aesthetic choices...not so much.

  19. I applaud his efforts to beautify a normally bland and predictable environment. My frat brother Lanny and I decided to update our room, especially the old 1/4" thick wood paneling that had gaping holes punched into it. When we pulled the paneling down, we were surprised to be suddenly standing in piles of about a million spent whippet (nitrous oxide) cartridges which had been disposed of through the holes in the walls. And so decorating a college room can serve at least two purposes: aesthetic improvement and environmental protection.

  20. I love it - it's hilarious! In order to process this in my brain, it has to be a goof, Re-purposed ascots? The tray of aperitifs, digestives and cordials (what regular Tanqueray, not Tanqueray 10? and is that Gordon's I see?) Even down to wearing pink pants, laying so casually on a love seat (don't even want to think how that might actually be true) reading his erudite paperback book (I'm sure it's in French). It's all so ridiculous that I couldn't help but get a huge laugh from the whole thing.

  21. Nick: That Suave he uses is the only indication that the kid's a student. I think it's a prop though.

    Becky: That's what gets me, the kid is definitely shrewd.

    Chuck: That's a great story. It reminds me of one from my own twisted past. When I was in school, I was famous for my communal meals. I would cook and a bunch of people would hang out for dinner while we listed to Grateful Dead bootlegs. Anyhow, one of my younger brothers went to the same school and prior to one of my dinners I called him to tell him to go to the grocery store to buy potatoes and something for dessert. He showed up an hour later and everybody was already there. Our friend Becky shouted as he walked in the front door, "David what'd you bring?" He deadpanned back "Potatoes and whippits." Thus a new tradition was born.

    Bob: I'll bet the paperback isn't just in French, it's probably Camus in French to complete the affectation.


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