When a graphic designer and an IRS auditor get together, and they like cats and old-school video games, chugging beer and studying philosophy, skulls and glitter, what does their place look like? Probably like this loft; a craft-filled ode to beer, design, and religious artifacts. Dani and Ken let me wander through so the Homies could all look it over.
Let me reveal a bit here, so you can put yourself more firmly in this house: D & K are old friends. I dated Ken in high school — and he took on Dani just as both he and I started hanging out again after our respective college asshole phases.
We’ve helped each other move, crashed on each others’ couches. Dani was my maid of honor, and touring their home for you is probably easier than leading you through my own.
Picture it: Ken is a reluctant hippie who works for the IRS and breathes economics and tax law. He also dabbles in the Zen-er side of things, having gotten his undergrad in Philosophy.
Dani is a reformed art kid — and became a half-decent graphic designer and indie crafter/business lady, as reformed art kids do. She likes all things shiny and skull-adorned, making for some interesting combinations with gothy-glammy-kawaii-couture results.
They both dig gaming.
They live with cats Elliot and Jonah in a factory loft in downtown Des Moines, Iowa — and all enjoy the glut of windows and the custom-built bar abandoned by the previous tenants.
This apartment lives for parties and projects. The bar pulls double duty as a drink station and a project assembly zone — it’s also where Dani plucks pheasants and reassembles their feathers into accessories.
I decided on the term quirky-chic while editing photos: these guys seem to marry hand-made signs with high-end design as smoothly as peanut butter and chocolate. And more than that, Dani and Ken fill their home with living point-counterpoints.
So while the TV displays Say Yes to the Dress or Top Chef, hanging on the wall behind it is a propaganda-style poster for Joust.
And the bedroom combines paintings of golems,
and sea monsters,
with paintings of the cat and Tibetan demons, hung over heirloom jewelry.
Trot over to the office, and you’ll find images of saints hanging over an article about Ken’s grandfather’s pursuit of enlightenment, and plates embossed with Mozart, Bach, and Schubert.
Artists tend to live in highly personalized places. They pin up keepsakes, make decorative passive-aggressive notes to warn off undesired behaviors, and draw pictures of things. When you’re a designer, words on signs fill everything. It’s a bonus when you can involve the cats.
I mean, it makes sense. Graphic designers are employed to provide signage which helps users navigate spaces efficiently and happily, so why wouldn’t a designer’s home put good signs to good use?
O, the fond memories I have of this bathroom floor — and again, the words! Dani’s even labeled the cats’ box for ease of use.
Ken’s touches fall more on the utilitarian side of the house: making sure they have ample basil with which to cook, buying Scotch, making bran muffins.
And somehow, Dani and Ken make IKEA, Homemakers, garage sale, and antique furniture — like this temple pew — match. I mean, the industrial canvas of the apartment goes a long ways toward helping, too.
Now look through the rest of my photos of their pad. Count the number of skulls you can find, if you want to make a game of it. And enjoy!