the definitive daily cultural column curated by stefan boublil.

  • architecture
  •  / 
  • art
  •  / 
  • awesome
  •  / 
  • books
  •  / 
  • celebritart
  •  / 
  • design
  •  / 
  • events
  •  / 
  • fashion
  •  / 
  • food
  •  / 
  • graphic design
  •  / 
  • jesus
  •  / 
  • marketing
  •  / 
  • movies
  •  / 
  • music
  •  / 
  • news
  •  / 
  • NSFW
  •  / 
  • opinion
  •  / 
  • products
  •  / 
  • sucks
  •  / 
  • talent
  •  / 
  • technology
  •  / 
  • television
  •  / 
  • the considered life
  •  / 
  • theaptGUIDE
  •  / 
  • travel
  •  / 
  • tweets
  •  / 
  • watch now!
  •  / 
  • web
  •  / 
  • theaptPORTFOLIO


    March 27, 2013

    i have to say that, against my better instinct, i tend to shy away from wes anderson and roman coppola’s aesthetic. not for any holier-than-thou reasons but rather because it seems most often a compendium of post-it note ideas that reach the screen unfiltered, which i’m sure is their charm, but have yet, for me, to amount to much affecting storytelling. but that is precisely why i like this prada commercial series they just launched to promote a new perfume. perfectly aping the cinematic world of theaptFAVE jacques demy, they succeed in making the quirky work for them, for me and anyone for whom snippets of strangeness work better than long-winded ones.

    October 4, 2012

    so happy and proud to be a part of our friends’ new series over at APT No7 (no relation. yet.) titled how ideas become brands. they will be rolling out episodes one by one next week which all contain fascinating stories about each participant’s experiences with willing the merely imagined in the physical world. i had a wonderful evening talking with craig and his crew and i cannot wait to see the result. tune to their vimeo channel to catch all of them. and mine, of course, which comes out november 13th!

    September 11, 2012

    our new baby has arrived, the adventure with the good people at yelo spa continues as we have just unveiled the new location and brand rethink! having worked on this multi-disciplnary project for over a year now, i cannot tell you how proud and relieved the team and i are that we have made it to the finish line. well, almost to the finish line, as usual… see, the kinds of projects that we, the apartment creative agency, choose to ponder on a regular basis are neither exclusively graphic nor solely architectural in kind, neither purely strategic nor marketing-driven, rather we deliver experiences, for lack of a much better word, to clients who have a product and a desired customer reaction in mind but don’t know how to get from one to the other. that is when we step in, not to deliver what they want but find out what they need, a marked difference in approach that is not without its (lengthy) explanation cycle. using tools such as architecture, graphics, strategy, music, film, writing and more, we conscientiously tell the story we believe in if anyone else can be also asked to and deliver an experience to the eventual and probable customer that surprises, delights but, above all, means.

    that is how we took on the mammoth task of rebooting yelo spa, the brand we created with founder nicolas ronco almost six years ago. looking at everything we had done right and, of course, all that had not quite worked in that span of time. the concept was ripe risk-taking again, ripe for trying new things, ripe not simply to be upgraded but looked at from scratch in most areas so as to imagine what the spa of the next ten tears might feel like. and the one thing you need above all on such an adventure: trust. from the client, for your team as you make recommendations that go against industry standards (colors!) and sometimes even common sense (naked babies?) but in the end, agreement won over compromise and we launched yelo spa 2.0 last month to incredible critical acclaim as much from the press as from clients returning after a month-long hiatus.

    we could not be more proud to present to you our efforts and hope that you go see the real thing at 5 east 57th street (between 5th and madison) in new york city very soon. you can say the apartment sent you and see what happens…

    as partners in this journey, i would be remiss if i didn’t give a shout-out to the theaptTEAM who worked of the pieces on the puzzle: guy reziciner on architecture, william gralewski on senior graphics, nicole audette on junior graphics and hilary bowers on public relations. they are incredible and, by the way, i’m willing to share… just ping me.

    in the meantime, take in our latest portfolio entry, yelo spa 2!

    September 16, 2011

    i know most of you knock on theapt’s frameless door for entertainment purposes only but have you ever wondered about the way we work, why we do what we do or how we maintain such suple, pore-free skin? well, today is your lucky day as two out of those three questions get answered! the good people at american express followed us a few months back and took notes as we tackled rethinking venerable cleaning product brand CITRA-SOLV for a web series titled project RE:Brand meant to lift the veil of mystery which has for too long obscured your view of our process. included are tips, articles, case studies and three episodes to tag along with us. this was an incredible opportunity to talk about branding the only way we know how: by doing it.

    so, you know, enjoy! and don;t thank me for giving you something interesting to do on your weekend, it’s my job…

    May 9, 2011

    for those of you may have just joined us and are wondering what it is the hell we do, it is always my goal to show if i don’t have to tell. hence, here is a portrait of one of our projects, new york’s own yelo spa, a wellness center in midtown manhattan, which was a 360degree project for us as we were responsible for all aspect of it, from naming to branding to architecture to marketing. and the synergies between them. filmed by the incomparable gary nadeau for dwell magazine. enjoy!

    November 5, 2010


    have you ever wondered about the way we work, why we do what we do or how we maintain such suple, pore-free skin? well, today is your lucky day as two out of those three questions get answered! the good people at american express have been following us for the past four months and took notes as we tackled rethinking venerable cleaning product brand CITRA-SOLV for a web series titled project RE:Brand meant to lift the veil of mystery which has for too long obscured your view of the process. included are tips, articles, case studies and three episodes to tag along with us. as i attempted to relate when the trailer came out last week, this was an incredible opportunity to talk about branding the only way we know how: by doing it.

    in fact, you will see more than the apartment creative agency doing it. project RE:Brand is a web series that pairs five design and branding experts with five small business owners to assess and revitalize their brand identities. watch as the experts work with the businesses to provide advice, discuss their branding challenges, and give them complete image makeovers and even a brand assessment to help other small business owners start rebrands of their own.

    the videos are below and i hope you will take the time to visit the project pages on in order to see the excellent work done for other clients by officelab and pandiscio. enjoy!

    so… how about you give us a call and we can do the same for you. minus the cameras. email me and we’ll carve some time out! have a brandtastic weekend!

    June 21, 2010

    clockfor those of you who have ever wondered what it is we do for a living and never quite bothered to click on the creative agency link to the left there, i would like to extend a helping hand. fact is, even colleagues in our own industry sometimes ask “no but really, what do you guys do?…” and so, i figured that after exactly 10 years of practice (we opened our doors in the summer of 2000,) perhaps i should, for once, utilize this forum for something useful and answer that most pertinent of questions. to start this conversation right, please find below, for your perusal, a smattering of our favorite things… (it may take a little bit of time to load, but once it does, you will smooth sail your way to knowledge and understanding, so-called, theaptWORKS.)

    theaptARCHITECTURE shows how just another brick in the wall does not have to mean conformity.

    theaptBRANDING displays ideas for which a visual solution, graphic or otherwise, was needed to accomplish the stated goal.

    theaptEXPERIENTIAL details the projects for which we were asked, by a variety of clients, to invent and build experiences utilizing the tools of architecture, branding, marketing and event planning, all at once and never boring.

    theaptPRESS is a few pages of our favorite published compliments by some of the most cajoled names in the business.

    who is the apartment? we are a full-fledged agency that looks at problems with outdated solutions. there is a glut of old ways of looking at things, old ways to create meaning and old ways to create experiences. that’s where a company like ours comes in. since we don’t have the rules ingrained in us, we allow ourselves us to take risks where others may not dare. the apartment takes on all kinds of projects, from the branding and marketing for a broadway show to creative-directing the planning of a small eco-city in the ukraine. we tend to gravitate towards projects that make our lives more interesting, not ones that simply make our company profitable. it is a luxury afforded us by a life considered and a team of designers the world over for whom experiences will always trump design.

    an apartment is where you live. an apartment is where you do all the things in your life that matter, where you cook, read, sleep, listen to music, make sweet, sweet love, watch movies, talk, blog and get dressed, among other things. most importantly, it is the place that you shape so that it may function, look and feel like you. funny thing, that’s exactly what the apartment does! i co-dreamed of the apartment with my partner gina alvarez first in 1999 as an experiment in retail as theater which would offer an alternative to the design stores that operated (and still do) as art galleries. design always felt to us a part of daily life and needed to be shown that way! soon after we opened the doors to our public apartment, where everything curated, from toothpaste to sofas to sandwiches, was for sale, we realized we could do more than barter our lives an object at a time for money. we realized that people, whom we would shortly call clients, wanted complete experiences, for their homes, their offices, their brands. the creative agency was born. our new york-based office imagines and builds such experiences using the tools of architecture, design, branding, marketing and technology, fully integrated for the simple reason that it is how life is built. born from our need to consider our lives, bit by bit, little by little, thoroughly, absolutely, we tackle projects as wide-ranging in scope as the conceptualization of an 8-story museum and the redesign of a line of home-cleaning products. the apartment‘s and my goal stand the same: to tell a good story, with a beginning, middle and end, even if not necessarily in that order; to invent, always.

    but not just… fact is, and this is none the more apparent than in the news delivered hourly in our various inboxes, most creative people, be we architects, filmmakers or poets, keep adding to a world that we couldn’t be more vocally vehement about cleaning up. the often damning dichotomy of our innovative endeavors is that, as much as we want more beautiful things, songs and ideas to surround us and impress our friends with, we cannot deny that most new objects, new musical journeys and new reaches into the conceptual future will, eventually, find themselves sitting atop a garbage heap, abandoned and lonely. for our imagined expectations to not only be made real but also last, we must do better, we must subtract, we must look at systems, not just equipment, we must do what the word dictates: design, not merely decorate.

    at the apartment, every one of our creative partners around the world understands this superlatively-so, for they know that it is neither their skill with a mouse nor their ability to design beautifully nor even their sense of taste that got them hired here; they know they were chosen for who they are, not what they do. that they are talented goes without saying but, most importantly, they provide us with perspectives unknown. their lives nourish their work, not the other way around, which in turn nourish our clients by offering far-flung multiplicity, looking at problems from new points of reference, examining opportunities with eyes and minds unencumbered by yesterday’s methods, viewing every set of circumstances as a possibility for new and bespoke meaning. that is why we prize culture above all else.

    thing is, as i look at it, we evolved from ape to australopithecus to cro-magnon to modern man and, in all that time, haven’t significantly reconsidered most of our tools. even though there have been more advances in the last hundred years than in the last million, we still borrow the methods of those who have come before us and dare not rebel, dare not dream that there might be a different conversation worth having. we are so caught up in the results that we rarely ever pause to wonder if the process may hold a key to a different, more efficient door. and when we do, the procedure of habit-changing is so slow that it can span generations. the apartment believes that the way out of this conundrum is to begin with meaning, intention, passion, in a word, people, not decoration. then, support the development of systems that can allow the former to flourish without having to unlearn and learn again. we design from the meaningful up, not from the stylish down.

    ironically, curiosity, the very trait that often detours humans down the easier path, is what we need to get started again to find the just one. that which leads us to create, not re-create, invent, not re-invent. that which necessitates that we put ourselves in danger, perhaps feel uncomfortable and take leaps without knowing whether there is sure footing on the other side and see what comes out. that is how we tackle every new project, every new concept, every new moment, on your behalf. with such an approach, we are not afraid to deconstruct anything, the big or small problems at the root of which considered and willful design always guides us towards relevant solutions. design, it has probably been over-said, is how something works, not how it looks. and i tend to agree, but for this anecdotal caveat: about his juicy salif, somebody once challenged philippe starck, specifically about its apparent lack of usability. he responded, well, i designed it because, one day, it will probably be gifted by a son-in-law to his girlfriend’s mother who haven’t talked much in the past. she probably thinks of him as a slacker and he of her as an “adult.” she’ll open it in the kitchen and they’ll put it up on the counter. and she is going to say “wow, this is interesting. what is it?…” that juicer is going to make a conversation happen. about a juicer, granted, but they will have one nonetheless which may be the beginning of a relationship that wasn’t there before. if design must be ascribed a mission at all, that is one i can approve of: to start conversations that weren’t there before.

    that is what we propose to do for you, the clients, the people with ideas and the willingness to execute them, use all of the above principles to imagine the expression of said ideas, of who you have become and how you want to help. in order to do so, we must first immerse ourselves in your culture, understand your motivation, dig deep within your purpose in an approach perhaps more akin to that of a behavioral detective than that of an architect. then will come the application of the findings to the physical plane, the shape of which shall be as unique as you are.

    as you can see in the theaptWORKS above, thinking this way for the past 10 years has served our patrons well. from building homes, offices and restaurants, to launching automobiles and developing new brands, we look for the unusual and the unusual always finds us.

    for more of what life looks like at the apartment, come back here often and please visit:


    i hope this clears that up… and, as usual, have a wonderful week!

    March 12, 2010

    hittase_ripit’s been a long time coming, yellow pages, but finally someone is willing to acknowledge that your services are no longer needed in society. sure, it may start with sweden but your reign is over worldwide my friend. thank you for everything. and everything, i mean plumbers and locksmiths.

    March 11, 2010

    you might find this hard to believe but, sometimes, i get mad. mad that i’ll never be as good as i think i am. sure, you’ll say, but that’s what always keeps you going back for more stefan, that’s what keeps you on the edge, that what makes you talk about yourself in the third person spewing theoretical hypotheticals like an grownup asshole in need of a hug from his father who never said “i love you”… anyway, all i’m saying is that when i see work as inventive and well-executed as this commercial for natural gas, of all things, i get mad jealous that i didn’t think of that. it’s pure poetry and an incredible delivery system for the message at hand. does everything it’s supposed to do. amazing!

    March 5, 2010

    why can’t sony sell its products anymore? well, part of the answer is that they don’t have any products to sell sure. but they did at some point. have products, know how to sell them. look! it’s so sad because whenever i need a new electronic gizmo, my first instinct is to look at sony, i feel conditioned to think that’s they’ll have the perfect combination of design, technology and tiny form-factor. no more. and i so invested in memory sticks, raaaaahhhh!!!!! oh well, onto pre-ordering then…