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!
Alyssa Zygmunt, the creator of Brooklyn Rehab, uses her daily observations of NYC culture to create inspired and unique products that make the perfect souvenirs for out-of-towners and seasoned New Yorkers alike. From key chains and salt and pepper shakers, to glass bottles with labels of local bodies of water, such as the Gowanus Canal (because that water must be tasty!), and 100% authentic New York City pigeon feathers sealed in test tubes, Alyssa gives new life to existing objects while still managing to keep a timeless feel (and give a nod to those who know NYC best).
Join us as we get to know Alyssa and some of the great ways she reworks items and creates new NYC-inspired products …
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I’m one part designer and one part anthropologist. I studied Industrial Design at Carnegie Mellon University and have done all kinds of design, from fashion to medical tool design. More recently I wanted to get my hands dirty, so to speak, so I left my full-time job, where my designs were mass produced, and traded it in for a studio in Greenpoint, where my designs are created and assembled by hand.
What do you make?
I create modern souvenirs with a timeless feel, like the laser cut building, as well vintage-inspired ones, such as the water bottles featuring local bodies of water. I also apply my artwork as a decal to both glass and ceramics.
How long have you been at it?
It started as a side business while I was working as an in-house professional designer, but I started doing it full-time four years ago.
What is the story behind how you develop your product?
I observe the local culture and then design objects that celebrate it. In the past I created fake bed bug specimens to acknowledge and poke fun at the paranoia that took over the city a while back. My work is like an insider’s nod or wink, like how I label water bottles after the Gowanus Canal for the store By Brooklyn. Locals know you would never want to drink that polluted water!
Walk us through a typical day…
I ride my bike to my studio in Greenpoint, picking up my favorite coffee, Blue Bottle, as I go. I work with a wonderful view of both the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building and am surrounded by my collections of vintage souvenirs and endless supplies for making things.
What are you doing when you’re not working?
Exploring the city. Riding my bike.
Where do you live, and what do you love the most about your neighborhood?
I’ve lived in Williamsburg for the last 10 years, but I am now moving to Bedford-Stuyvesant. Williamsburg has lost its industrial roots and creative vibe so I am moving to a place where there is more breathing room and space for artists to create. It feels more authentic and it’s actually quite friendly in Bed-Stuy. Neighbors say hello to each other. There is a real sense of community that you lose when there are more tourists than residents, like what has happened in Williamsburg.
What type of art or design currently inspires you?
Scandinavian design. Natural materials and simple, yet bold designs.
What is your favorite NYC museum?
The City Reliquary. It’s an amazing space!
If not creating, what else would you be doing?
Traveling the world learning local handcrafts.
For more Brooklyn Rehab products, visit the BHS Gift Shop, open daily from 12pm to 5pm! You can also learn more on their website, brooklynrehabny.com.