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The Apartment: Exploring Every Option

"What is it about life these days that conspires to hurry us along?" wonders Stefan Boublil, lead Creative Director and founder of The Apartment.

As a founder and Head Creative Director of The Apartment in New York City, Stefan Boublil regularly defies convention to create memorable experiences to both the clients his firm retains, and the creatives who work alongside him. Of paramount importance in The Apartment’s creative process is to deliver outstanding results every time, even if that means having a client question their original request or admitting that they need a little more time to get it right. Those things, Boublil is totally fine with.

The firm’s roots grew from a creative uprising, of sorts. Boublil explains, “I created the apartment with my partner Gina Alvarez in 2000, as an act of rebellion against those who would try to convince us that quality of life was about objects and access when it’s really about time and consideration. What is it about life these days that conspires to hurry us along? Technology, an increasingly smaller world and the never-ending feeling that we must ‘keep up with the Joneses’ are all rushing us through life – but does that necessarily mean that the quality of the experiences we so crave should be ignored or even take a back seat?”

“We at The Apartment do not believe that, and so we work to make the world around us more digestible, more contextualized, never forgetting to mind the details, never underestimating our customers’ finely-tuned observational sensitivity. All choices are part of what we like to call the considered life; a place and time in which no decision is left to fate. And we make such decisions on a daily basis about, alternatively, designing a building, marketing a broadway show, birthing a new brand of fast food restaurants or master-planning a city.”

We are also great advocates of sanctioning wrong decisions and ideas that might not fit the brief but will undoubtedly expand the mind.

A fine example of the open discourse so important to the firm is that of architectural client, Cindy Gallop. “She asked us to design a space that, at midnight, would feel like a Shanghai nightclub. We came back and proposed: ‘how would you feel living inside a shiny black space?’That was our only proposal, which was, of course, based on the detective work we had done about her life, but which nonetheless required holding her stare at the presentation meeting until she understood what we meant. This would be a place for her to arrange her life, for her habits and possessions to shine, to set it upon a black canvas instead of a white one. She went with it. In short, if you speak up, people will listen.”

Maintaining this level of honesty goes past the pitch process, well into the creative and development stages. “New ideas are the lifeblood of our business and we do our very best to keep the foam rising to the surface. However, when the foam is not quite up to snuff, we are quite honest with the client and simply ask for more time. We are very fortunate to work most of the time with clients who understand that flowers take time to fully bloom and allow us to develop the scents. We are also great advocates of taking the wrong turns, sanctioning wrong decisions and ideas that take us down unexplored paths that might not fit the brief but will undoubtedly expand the mind. The greatest luxury a client can afford us is that of the time to explore those dark corners on their behalf.”

Taking regular “time outs” allows Boublil and his team to refocus and reevaluate their path, and to fix things that may not have been working before. “After a few years of operation, it becomes very easy for creative entrepreneurs to lose themselves in the day-to-day running of their business and we are no different. After doing this for the better part of the last decade, we’ve institutionalized the need for change within the firm’s DNA. That means that every 3 years, we actually take a good week or two off and ask ourselves whether what we are doing is actually making us happy or whether we are just going through the motions. That mechanism allows us to check ourselves pressure-free. Humans are creatures of habit and as such tend to forget why they (we) do things. Also, happiness is sadly not usually a yardstick against which people tend to measure success but we are dedicated to its pursuit as a group, and I guarantee you that the effects are felt every morning when you meet smiling people coming in to work. Unless, of course, their dog was just run over by a semi.”

If anyone’s keeping track, Boublil seems to be staying true to his own personal mission – which is shown in both his work and the overall tone of his sometimes irreverent, always sanguine establishment. “Put simply, I want to live an interesting life, to respond to the road’s will, not to try to bend it to mine. And through that journey, I’m hoping to have a good story to tell when my time comes for the big exit. Self-awareness is the greatest tool at your disposal, use it to decode universal truths that you can apply to your work. And drink lots of liquids.”

Comments (2)
  • condos for rent in Philippines

     I am very amaze of the apartment’s work.It is really beautiful as well as it is an inspiration to everyone who wants to make their house as beautiful as it can be.

  • Samuel Ricafort

    I really love the concept of your design and the colors you used are awesome. Thanks.
    makati apartment

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