In New York City – the land of sky-high rents for often low-value spaces – it’s nearly unheard of to lease the same apartment for more than a decade. To move is to escape (and hopefully to upgrade). But Greg Buntain, founder of cult-favorite design house Fort Standard, has been in his Brooklyn one-bedroom for 12 years, ever since the summer after his sophomore year at Pratt, where he was studying industrial design with aspirations of becoming a furniture designer. “It’s definitely grown up with the brand,” he says of the floor-through apartment, a prewar space painted crisp white and dotted with warm wood accents, many of his own making. “When I first moved in, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do, figure myself out and the direction of my work.” Back then, he says, it “looked like any other college kid’s apartment,” a two-bedroom where he lived with various roommates and IKEA furnishings. How things have changed.
In 2008, Greg graduated and started working for a small furniture manufacturer. By 2011 he’d founded Fort Standard, his own contemporary design house for custom furnishings. During this transitional time, his prototypes started popping up at home, a habit that would come to define the look of the rapidly maturing apartment: Above the stove, some angular cutting boards and a rolling pin he turned for his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Isabel, are hung like art; and along a wall, a set of slatted wood shelves were at some point made to replace the previous IKEA ones. A sectional sofa wraps around a boxy wood coffee table with a lid that lifts up, as if levitating, to reveal storage underneath – that one wasn’t a product prototype, just an invention to make good use of the small space. But by this point, much of the apartment is a Fort Standard design at one stage or another, a work-life overlap that Greg says is constantly improving his product line.
“It was an interesting experience, making one of our own dining tables for our own personal use. It forced me to consider it in a way I previously hadn’t,” he says. The legs, he realized, could be adjusted slightly to better accommodate a variety of seating arrangements, and a sharp square edge could be softened to a more family-friendly rounded corner. The same went for their Elevate side table, which he’s been living with for a few years: “I changed the proportions of that table pretty significantly. The joinery that was used… let’s just say it was improved upon.” And now, as the brand moves more confidently into tabletop and accessories in their FS Objects line, it’s not just furniture but also smaller home goods that are being tested in real time at Greg’s place. Maybe that knife block will finally make its debut – after some adjustments, of course. “It’s like anything,” he quips. “I’m not afraid to change something for the fear that it’s not going to be the same. If I see a way to better something, I’m going to do it.”
Tour the apartment below to see all the ways Greg customized it.
A Fort Standard Column Dining Table with angled legs holds court in the dining room; its (sharp) squared-off corners were the inspiration for more rounded ones in new versions of the design. Antlers act as hooks on the wall, and an assortment of mixed-and-matched chairs prove there’s no one right way to set a table.