My New Favorite Four Letter Word
What is the social life of an object? Each of our possessions tell multiple and simultaneous stories. Consider the inspiration of the maker, the origin of the materials, the nature of creativity and nature itself; to the maker’s craft, the practicing and honing of behaviors that, over time, result in a vocation. Then, consider the design and the marketing of an object, the curiosity to find out more, the right-brain, emotionally-oriented, splitsecond decision to make the purchase before the actual left-brain adjustment to complete the sales transaction – all of these concurrent stories are embedded in the things we own and use every day.
The way objects tell their stories is sometimes intrinsic to the object itself, part of its design. But people tell the stories of objects, too. Your family’s heirloom rug, that Victrola sitting in the corner, a particular teaspoon or a scrap of paper with a passing thought, or something more traditionally meaningful like your mother’s engagement ring. You want to know where these things come from; their individual historical narratives make them a part of where you come from. Arguably, our objects make us. And once you come to value how objects have been socialized over the generations before they reach you, you’ll be prepared to share the newer story when the object is gifted to or inherited by the next generation – the story that’s been updated by your involvement with the object. Or, you could just sell it for cash, perchance opening up the narrative to an imagined fiction.
It can be overwhelming to think about, but worthy of investigation. Conferences, journals, organizations, books, and sociological and archeological thought have all been devoted to the topic. Luckily, the gentlemen that run the business TRNK (www. trnk-nyc.com), Nick Nemechek and Tariq Dixon, are making sense of it all. TRNK is a mashup between a highly curated Etsy or eBay (the object’s origin), with a pinch of Pinterest (the curatorial intervention). It’s a
“For the man who seeks an inspired
and character-filled home.”
place where we can read stories about makers of objects and their own personal spaces and lives, and be encouraged to recreate the same for ourselves – ultimately, finding new heirlooms for ourselves. The benefit of being able to learn and buy is only part of their business model; Nick and Tariq plan on flipping some of their tag sale and antique finds and selling them as well.
How’d you get started?
We sensed the need for TRNK because we kept getting all kinds of compliments on our apartment. Once the compliments turned into inquiries about specific pieces that we had in our apartment, and then that grew to requests for help to find pieces we didn’t have, we knew we were onto something big.
That’s how great things start! So who’s your target audience?
We are. We love pieces that are unique, where I’m not going to walk into my friend’s house and see the same thing I have.
It’s really difficult to furnish your own home. Many home retailers are overtly feminine, offering pastels, florals, and frills. Ours is a destination that aesthetically has a different point of view, and tells different stories. We’re not so much into decoration as collection, incorporating products from different design eras, and not overthinking it.
Our primary mission is encouraging men to consider their homes as an expression of their personalities and their character, and to reclaim men’s personal space.
Tell me more about that. How are you going to accomplish that?
By featuring makers in their own spaces, telling their stories, and selling the things that they make. Plus objects we find along the way, in a curated and streamlined way.
So you accelerate this process of being established in one’s own home. A lot of the finding of collected things take time.
Yes, we’ve done all the curating. Our site will serve people in two ways: people that don’t mind the hunt for heirlooms as much, and people who value the same principles but don’t have the time or energy that is required to create a space that’s comfortable. Unlike our competition, we focus on telling the stories of us, and our makers.
How do you feel like you’ve created your personal space? Nick:
I have always enjoyed building spaces I feel comfortable in. It started in college; I picked it up at a very young age. I’ve always been an avid collector, even when I don’t have space to be collecting. All of the pieces that I hold onto have meaning to me. I’ve always believed my personal space is very important. Tariq: There are a lot of people that want to have passion for their space. Maybe they don’t have vision, or they can’t do it on their own. Before TRNK, I never really understood the value of creating space you really love and feel comfortable in. When I moved to New York, I spent a lot of time going out and not in my apartment. But when Nick moved in and we made the space together, I understood the importance of it – I didn’t want to be anywhere else other than that apartment. And then your whole perspective changes – you want to invite other people into that space and share it, you start entertaining more. The enjoyment that you can derive from this is new to me.
More than fashion, your space really communicates who you are. You build the story along the way, and it’s something that will carry with you, unlike clothing, which is seasonal and transient.
Right, like with a nice article of clothing, even if it’s not bespoke, you call it a “piece.” You want to have the same effect on people’s space.
Definitely. Most products are built to last a short period of time. We’re advocates for investing in products that have permanence, and that will build a history with you. We want our customers to feel more confident in their own space.
Josh Silverman spends his days at Schwadesign.com, and his evenings crafting something with bourbon in it. Follow him @jhsilverman.