Welcome to the Hot Seat, where we interview folks involved in Brooklyn real estate, architecture, development, and the like. Introducing Corrin Arasa, the founder and creative director at Patina Vintage Rentals, a furniture rental showroom and studio in Bushwick.
Brownstoner: What neighborhood do you live in, and how’d you end up there?
Corrin Arasa: The Patina studio is in Bushwick. I live in Forest Hills and have for ten years. We moved there because it’s a great place to raise a family and it’s one of the prettiest spots in the city. Plus it’s only 10 minutes away from Bushwick — which is great.
BS: Can you talk about the beginnings of the company, and how you got into vintage furniture?
CA: I’ve always been into vintage furniture and décor. I’ve always loved finding hidden treasures at flea markets and estate sales. My mom used to drag us to yard sales all of the time growing up, so I guess the thrill of the hunt is long ingrained. I started an event-marketing agency ten years ago. Many of my clients needed something different from anything that was offered for events, so I started pulling from my own collection and scouting and creating custom pieces for them. As my inventory and sources grew, so did my company. Now I have an inventory of hundreds of pieces which led to the launch of Patina Rentals last summer.
After the jump, Corrin talks about finding a 5,000-square-foot space in Bushwick, what’s happening with Brooklyn design, and the craziest event she provided furniture for…
BS: How did you find this space in Bushwick? Were you looking elsewhere in Brooklyn?
CA: I wasn’t looking in Bushwick originally, but once I started to consider it, I had a hard time imagining being anywhere else. I really dig the Bushwick vibe. There’s this incredible spirit of creativity and progress. Plus, we needed a decent-sized space and Bushwick seemed to have a lot of options. I was looking for something in the neighborhood of 5,000 square feet because I reupholster and rehabilitate many of my vintage finds. I needed to have enough space for a design studio, a workshop and a place for clients to come and play with different pieces and setups. I also wanted something open and airy with lots of natural light. This old garment factory had all of that plus a great view. The building is part of GMDC, which is a nonprofit industrial developer that revitalizes defunct industrial properties and rents to artisans and small manufacturers that service the City. The spirit of what they are doing aligns perfectly with what Patina does — the reinvention of something old for a modern purpose.
BS: What’s the retail/commercial environment right now in Bushwick? What businesses are really thriving?
CA: One of the most exciting things about Bushwick is that the landscape changes daily. Patina is located right in [the Bushwick Collective] area so street artists come from all over the world and work right here on our corner. New murals pop up all of the time, old ones get painted over. The ephemeral nature of it all brings lots of people with cameras around. Given the recent surge in foot traffic, the retail environment is also changing even in the short time I’ve been there. There are new bars, coffee shops, galleries and event spaces in the works. It’s turning out to be this thriving hub of creativity and commerce that I’m grateful to be a part of. Personally, I think with all of the artisan furniture makers and high end manufactures like Nuala coming into the area, we might see a bit of a design boom over here.
BS: What kind of clients do you cater to? Who’s most likely to rent this kind of furniture?
CA: I tend to rent to event designers and art directors who are looking to reach a younger, more design-savvy demographic. Having designed branded events for fashion and beauty brands for years, my taste tends to skew more that way. We’ve worked with Louis Vuitton, Interview Magazine, Nylon Magazine, Levi’s, Airbnb and Bravo. We also work with a lot of venues in Brooklyn like the Wythe, The Green Building and Liberty Warehouse for their corporate events as well as social events. Our wedding clients tend to be more creative design types who are looking for something different, a more styled approach than you’d normally see.
BS: There’s a sort of Brooklyn aesthetic to the pieces you collect. What elements would you say really define design in Brooklyn right now?
CA: Brooklyn design is really interesting right now. There is a strong respect for heritage and authenticity alongside an admiration for smart modern design. I call this the “New Vintage,” using some well-designed heritage pieces in a new way, or juxtaposed with modern colors, patterns or architecture. Interiors tend to be more creative and daring — an authentic reflection of the individual. Overall they assume a more casual air, nothing is too matchy-matchy. Everything is considered, but nothing is contrived.
BS: Finally, your favorites: favorite Brooklyn neighborhood, favorite Bushwick institution, favorite/weirdest event that you’ve loaned furniture to.
CA: Bushwick has grown to be my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood. There are so many other creative entrepreneurs around here. There’s a milliner upstairs, modern furniture makers downstairs, and artists and designers working everywhere. The creative spirit is inescapable but the speed is pretty relaxed. It’s also got a small neighborhood feel about it; everyone knows each other and stops to chat on the street. I love to grab a drink at Billy’s Social and Pearl Club where it’s not uncommon for friends of the bartender to take over the sound system with their ’90s playlist. I love grabbing lunch at Mazelle — they have amazing Red Beet Fries — I could eat them everyday and be happy. When friends come by they usually like to go to Roberta’s, but I’ll only go on weekdays, I’m definitely not waiting in line for the place. Weirdest event I’ve loaned furniture to: We did an event at Brooklyn Grange, the rooftop farm in the Navy Yard, which was pretty amazing. We loaded our stuff in the freight elevator alongside a shipment of manure, which is something we haven’t done before!