In retrospect, it seems like destiny. “We were meant to be here,” says Cole Nahal about the Broome Street apartment he shares with Garrett Bowser. “About a month before we found it, I took a picture of Garrett in front of the Houston Street Keith Haring memorial mural.” Destiny because a few weeks later, the artists/designers were signing a lease on a slightly dingy two-bedroom walk-up they’d found on Craigslist, which turned out to be Haring’s former apartment.“I liked the space,” says Nahal. “It felt sort of cavernous. And it’s a nice neighborhood.” They barely clocked the exuberant eighties graffiti-style drawings covering the front door until the landlord told them those radiant babies were genuine works by the most iconic of eighties New York artists. Before they moved in, admits Nahal, “we weren’t terribly interested in him.” But once there, “I think we started channeling or something,” Nahal says. Haring became the guiding décor spirit, animating choices like the Pop-colored furniture, the DIY masking-tape wall—and, of course, the “barking dogs” decals Nahal and Bowser got from Blik.
Nahal, left, and Bowser (with their dogs, Sir Pudge and Harley Michael Davidson) use bamboo as a recurring motif in their work; here, it’s their equivalent of Haring’s own repeating designs.
Those Aren’t Original
The most explicit Haring references in the apartment are the Blik “barking dogs” and “dancers” decals over the black-and-white Barbara Hulanicki wallpaper.
The Facing Wall
“Our style is industrial but also colorful, and so was his,” says Nahal. The painting above is by Huggins. The mini sculptures are “bullet-chip cookies,” by Michael Yinger. Photo: Leigh Davis
Striping the Walls
Haring embraced cheap, cheerful materials, something Nahal thought about when striping the walls in hot-pink and yellow gaffer’s tape. The Pop-influenced drawers, reminiscent of Haring’s toothy smiling cartoons, came from Pylones; the blue chair is from Soho Treasures. Photo: Leigh Davis
Customizing the Appliances
“We’ve been painting fridges for a few years,” Nahal says. “Keith Haring used to do that too.” Photo: Leigh Davis
Playing With the Space
Haring’s irreverence helped push Nahal and Bowser toward unorthodox choices; here, when the roommates realized they couldn’t break through the wall to join the two rooms, they installed a piece by Carlton Scott Sturgill (intricate flowers on wire, made from Ralph Lauren shirt fabric) that looks as if it pierces the structure.
A Wallpaper Pastiche
Nahal and Bowser made the mural in the living room from multiple wallpapers found at London’s Habitat, and more Blik decals. The city/industrial “one way” sign chair by Brooklyn artist Michael Whitney summons Haring’s street-art spirit. Photo: Leigh Davis