The Greenpoint home of Alissia Melka-Teichroew and Jan Habraken is full of the clean lines and irreverent yet classic design that is the trademark of their work. Habraken is an industrial designer and the founder of design firm FormNation and Melka-Teichroew has her own jewelry line, byAMT, as well as designing furniture and accessories and a host of other things for different brands. While both of them hail from the Netherlands, Brooklyn has been there home for over half a decade, and they appreciate the mixture of old-world Polish bakeries and the more recent additions to the local culinary and retail scenes. Much like the way their design work employs both whimsy and functionality, their home is not overly precious. It is a place to live and relax, but it still maintains a consistent and fresh aesthetic. It’s a perfect reflection of them, their lives, and their work.
What do you do?
Jan: We are both designers. I have my own consulting firm, FormNation, where I work as a consultant for commercial giftware and product companies, as well as design furniture and interiors for brands world wide.
Alissia: I have my own brand, byAMT, which produces a big array of jewelry and accessories. I also design table top products, furniture, wallpaper and more for other brands.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn?
Alissia: I’ve been here for 8 and Jan for a little over 6 years.
What brought you to Brooklyn?
Alissia: I moved here from San Fransisco to start my business, moving to Williamsburg first in a sublet near the Graham L Stop, to get a feel for the lay of the land in Brooklyn and New York in General. Then I moved to South Williamsburg, which at the time was not nearly as hip as it is now. In early 2006 an apartment of a friend became available in Greenpoint, a 1-bedroom with lots of light and a proper bathroom, kitchen and closet space. Even a rooftop I could have my morning coffee on. After 8 months or so, I was offered a job at Puma in Boston, so I moved away from Greenpoint. But 6 months later, when Jan had just migrated to the USA from The Netherlands, we both moved back to Greenpoint. The big pull for both of us toward Greenpoint, is that there are a lot of Euro-style food and stores, because it is a Polish neighborhood. So there is great bread from different bakeries and also lots of butchers. In general we can find a lot of products we know from home.
What’s your favorite thing about your neighborhood?
Jan & Alissia: Our neighborhood is changing quickly into a Williamsburh north, bringing great restaurants and fun stores, without the craziness of Williamsburg. The Polish stores and Polish food are a link to our homeland and we love the great breads for low prices, for one example.
On the one hand the change is not a good thing, since more and more of the Polish stores are closing due to the high rents. But on the other side we are getting a lot of new great new restaurants, bars, stores. Who would of thought that both of us would find one of our favourite clothing stores in Greenpoint! That and the low-key attitude and spectacular waterfront views (and new waterfront park & ferry) make Greenpoint a great area to live.
What’s your favorite thing about your apartment?
The light and spaciousness made us move here, but also the look and feel. The floors & the white walls, closet doors etc. The nooks around the front windows are also really nice.
What’s your least favorite thing?
We are missing an outdoor space, even though our apartment is great and we love living there. Even after 6 years I think we’re just as happy with it! But outdoor space is really something we miss. The summers are fairly long here in NYC compared to what we are used to in mostly gray and colder & more rainy The Netherlands. Sometimes you just want to go and sit & eat outside, but to do this we have to leave the house.
Alissia: I really miss having a washer (the dryer isn’t something I misses, since I hang dry most things anyway).
Jan: We call it her “wet dream”.
What three things would you save in a fire?
Jan: I am not very attached to things so it’s all things from Alissia. Well come to think of it, I might want to take my Oval Lamp, the orange and white Blow Up Lamp.
Alissia: I would take my old photos (if I can even find them…since they are somewhere in a cabinet) & probably my laptop IF it’s there and passport. Probably some small objects that are on the bookshelves and possibly my Martin Parr book.
Have you ever had that dream where you discover that your home has an extra room, full of all sorts of fantastical things? If this was a dream, what would you like to find in this extra room?
A nice wooden rooftop terrace popping up. There would suddenly be a doorway from the kitchen to the rooftop that is already there.
If you could move your home to anywhere else in the world, where would you go?
Sometimes we have been wondering about that too. It’s always the big question!
Alissia: I am a big Paris fan, but that would be hard for Jan, as he is a non French speaker. Tokyo has been attractive to both of us as well, but we doubt we would be able to make it there for a very long time. But who knows!
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen