Welcome to Shop Talk, our regular series highlighting some of the fantastic Brooklyn-made products (and their makers) available in the BHS Gift Shop, open daily from 12pm to 5pm!
Brooklyn is an ever-changing borough, and whether you’ve been here your whole life or are just now calling it home, I think everyone can agree that it is a very special and exciting place to be. While new buildings are sprouting up around every corner, it is important that we take the time to appreciate and preserve the essence of classic Brooklyn. Our maker for this month, Patrick Chirico, found a unique way to pull this off: he creates pillows that allow people to have Brooklyn neighborhood blocks in the comfort of their own homes. From bodegas and pizza shops to the Brooklyn Bridge, thanks to Build Your Block you can construct your very own 3-D pillow street to show off to your friends! A very artistic and creative approach to history if you ask us.
We caught up with Patrick to find out more about his company and why he creates…
Tell us a little but about yourself…
I grew up in Watertown, NY, where they invented the safety pin and where they make those tree-shaped car fresheners. I have a beautiful wife, a dapple dachshund, and a munchkin cat. Soon to have a baby boy in October. I went to FIT for fashion design, and just took over from there.
What do you make?
We make building-shaped pillows so everyone can build a neighborhood block on their bed or couch. You can buy the neighborhood you want and then add commercial property, like bodegas and pizza shops. To help complete the 3-D pillow city, we have sets of mini ATMs, garbage cans, phone booths, etc., to build the foreground. We offer a set of pillowcases of the Brooklyn Bridge that make a 60-inch-long cityscape background to your set. Now you can lay your head in the streets of New York or be your own urban pillow planner.
How long have you been at it?
I have been running my own business, Wrecords By Monkey, since 2003, and I created Build Your Block in 2011.
What’s the story behind how you developed your product?
For the pillow sets, I was inspired by the buildings around us, including the bodegas and brownstones, the modern apartment complexes popping up all over Williamsburg, as well as the classic and abandoned buildings. We wanted people to be able to express their love of architecture and their city by creating their own personal blocks in their homes. People can pick and choose the colors and styles that most inspire them, and make a street on their bed or couch that is all their own.
Walk us through a typical day…
Wake up and walk the dog with my wife at McCarren Park, then grab a coffee from a local spot and skate or drive over to my studio/store in Bushwick. Then start the day with a touch-base sesh with my senior designer for both companies, Will Haude, and then cruise through emails, eat lunch, and get into the physical part of the day. Then begins micro-managing the team to work toward all of our daily goals. It always ends with a, “You’re awesome,” to everyone on the team so I can head home to have a late dinner with my wife and talk her ear off about the day and all my ideas until we watch a movie and fall sleep with some dessert.
What do you do when you’re not “working”?
I have adventures with my wife and dog and eat good food, as well as try to visit family and friends as much as possible.
What art or design currently inspires you?
Everything is constantly inspiring me, and most of it is from non art or outside inspiration. A great local artist is Bäst, and also the entire Justseeds crew is amazing: Chris stain, Kristine Virsis, Josh MacPhee. I do love handmade zines, and related art like Chris Uphues, Killer Acid, Wizard Skull, Noah Lyon, Matt Crabe. I’m also always following the millefiori/glass blowing movement and the 3-D printing movement, specifically 3DBrooklyn.
How has the city inspired what you make and how you make it?
If you have something to offer the city, it has something to offer you. My inspiration comes from the people and fashion, the buildings and architectural details, even the industrial parts, and from seeing everything constantly changing.
What is your favorite NYC museum and why?
American Museum of Natural History for sure! Endless amounts of information, amazing handcrafted art/objects/artifacts. The rock and meteorite sections are a must see every time, as well as the dioramas. Each visit is a whole new experience and it’s so easy to learn so much.
What is your favorite part of Brooklyn and why?
Carmine’s Pizzeria and the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border, because you have access to everything!!
If not creating, what else would you be doing?
Teaching and inspiring.
For more Build Your Block products, visit the BHS Gift Shop, open daily from 12pm to 5pm! You can also learn more on their website, www.buildyourblock.bigcartel.com.