This 350-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Feels Like a Sailboat

Between transatlantic trips and photo-editing sessions, this photographer hunkers down in a one-room studio.

stuffed bookshelf in a dark brown hallway
“If I’m in a place that doesn’t have books, it just feels very strange to sit there,” says Wallander, who keeps most of his in an extra-long shelving unit from Crate & Barrel in the apartment’s narrow hallway. Figurine: a gift from a friend in Kolkata. Sailboat photos: Wallander. Umbrella: Stephen Kempson.
Bjorn Wallander

Nine months of the year, Björn Wallander is happily at home—on the road. “I probably spend under 50 days a year in my apartment,” admits the jet-setting photographer, whose work has appeared in every major glossy design magazine (including in the pages of Miescisko). So when his lease on a charming Brooklyn apartment was about to end, the Swedish-born creative took a look around him and realized the place had one serious problem. It was just too big.

The prewar architecture demanded constant maintenance, and the garden required frequent watering. “When you’re always away, that becomes more stressful than fun,” he explains. So Wallander did what pretty much nobody seems to be doing in this increasingly Brooklyn-bound city: He moved to Manhattan. “I’m always going from the cab to the airport to the rental car, over and over,” says Wallander, “so when I’m in New York, I want it to be as simple as possible.” A 350-square-foot studio in a Frank Gehry–designed skyscraper, one of the tallest residential towers in the world, is a 180 from his former home—and perfect for that reason.

image
Marc Davila

Every item in Wallander’s apartment tells a story: A Tibetan singing bowl purchased in Delhi, India, is put to use so frequently for meditation that he travels with it. An Authentic Model sailboat signals his love for boating and long-term traveling: “When I was going sailing for weeks, I never felt like I wanted to see land again.”

“I’ll be late to the airport and see some street vendor and say to the driver, ‘Pull over!’ ” Wallander recalls. “I’d buy something, and I would know right away where it would go in my apartment.” His collection of treasures, as well as books, has grown so large that it all piles up on the floor, which gives the space the feeling that it’s humming.

And yet the little sanctuary is also deeply calming. The custom Behr paint blend of milk chocolate and mauve “is quite neutral,” he says. “When I use the monitor, the wall color doesn’t give off color reflections.” Also ideal for an inhabitant who spends a lot of time photo editing: The huge windows, blocked by a neighboring wall, let in a soft, ethereal light rather than harsh sunbeams. “A lot of friends have said it’s like a sailboat,” says the world traveler. “There’s always an order.”



Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From House Tours