Architect Adam Charlap Hyman Answers Curbed’s 21 Questions

Photo-Illustration: Lined; Photo: André Herrero

New YorkThe “21 questions” of are back with an eye on New York creatives. Adam Charlap Hyman is co-founder, with Andre Herrero, of bicoastal architecture firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero, known for a wide range of commissions, ranging from interior design projects and exhibition and installation designs, to high-concept opera sets and large mixed-use renovations. He and Herrero just organized the group exhibition “House for the resident who refused to participateat the Tina Kim Gallery in Chelsea, on view until January 21. In 2020, his firm won the AIA’s LA Emerging Practice Award.

Last name: Adam Charlap Hyman
Age: 33
Neighborhood: Turtle Bay
Occupation: Architect and Director at Charlap Hyman & Herrero

What’s hanging above your couch?
It is a large 17th century tapestry that depicts a distant and distant place. There are turkeys, palm trees and pagodas – a mix of things. It was my grandmother’s.

What was the first job you had in New York?
I worked for the creative director of Ralph Lauren’s home department doing image research.

What color are you always drawn to?
I am always drawn to light blue. A very powdery light blue. It’s a joke in my office. People are like, “Oh, I know. We should make it light blue. And I’m like, “Oh my God, yeah!”

What work of art or artefact are you most surprised to own?
Guess it’s pretty valuable at this point – I bought a copy in college from a used bookstore of a first or first edition of Anaïs Nin’s book Delta of Venus, his famous pornographic book. I ended up showing it to people who are really blown away that I got it for about $10 in the used book section of a store.

Which New Yorker would you like to date?
Should they be alive? I thought I would actually like to hang out with John Hejduk.

What’s the last thing you did with your hands?
It was a birthday card for my mother that had a pop-up element. There were these pictures of pea pods and mushrooms in glass that I bought for her in Venice from this really amazing glassmaker named Bruno Amadi. He’s one of the last great glassmakers in Venice and he makes these amazing vegetables and bugs and they’re very hard to get. I was shipping them from Venice and didn’t have them and her birthday was coming up so I made her a card to show them.

Is there something you have multiple versions of?
I guess I have a few of these issues. I own a bunch of popcorn makers, annoying.

Which New York museum do you always go to?
I love the Cooper Hewitt so much. And then, kind of in a tie, I really, really like the Renee and Chaim Gross Museum. I don’t think there’s enough airtime. He was this amazing sculptor, and he’s a real piece of New York history. He had an amazing studio and home on La Guardia Place, and his personal art collection is on display in the house above the studio. It’s absolutely fantastic. Such a great wealth of inspiration and a cool way to learn about all kinds of people who lived in New York and made art from the 1930s to the 70s. It’s just a dream.

What do you always have next to your computer?
I usually have a portable charger and a glass of water.

Where is the best view in town?
I really like the view from the Dumbo waterfront when you’re under the Manhattan Bridge. The water is so close to you and you are so low and you see the structure of the bridge and all of Manhattan. It’s like a Piranesi.

What building or object do you want to redraw each time you see it?
I would really like to try designing light switches and socket covers.

What is one thing you would change in your field?
I would change the way people value the time of architects and designers, and raise awareness of the misvaluation that has been done historically. We’ve done something weird where we’ve combined the struggle of artists that we think is somehow necessary for creativity with the realm of architecture and design, and that’s really unhealthy. People should pay more for the time of their architects and designers. People would get better work from their architects and designers.

If you could live anywhere in the city, where would it be?
I live in Turtle Bay, and I would live in Turtle Bay.

What would you do in reserve if it ceased to be produced?
I’m wearing these black sneakers which are the cheapest Nike you can get. I just repurchase them every few months, and I don’t know what I would do if they went out of production. I would buy a lot.

What do you do to get out of a creative rut?
It is so Eat Pray Love, but I definitely travel. I love traveling for this exact reason. I still feel so energetic.

Where was your first apartment in New York and how much was the rent?
I shared it with two people, so it was the three of us. We were at Carroll Gardens, and it was $1,100 each.

Where in the city do you go to be alone?
I take walks in Turtle Bay. You really don’t meet anyone there. So even if there are people you know there, it kind of manages to be pretty anonymous.

Worst career advice you’ve ever received?
Someone told me not to start my own business. I think that was bad advice.

What have you given someone that you wish you could get back?
I find incredible gems of art and design history for my clients all the time that are truly affordably priced. And there’s a long list of things I wish I had bought for myself. Honestly, so many great deals I’ve found for other people. But something I lent to someone that I never got back, which sucks, was Brokenthis book of Curzio Malaparte. It was signed and someone gave it to me as a gift. I lent it to someone else and then they lost it.

What is your favorite restaurant in NYC and do you order regularly?
I am going to choose Gennaro on the Upper West Side. I almost always order the beef carpaccio.

What descriptive phrase do you want on your obituary?

Andre Herrero and I did this booth at Design Miami maybe five or six years ago for Dean & DeLuca, which that year was the fair’s sponsor – and now it no longer exists. The booth was kind of a homage to the original store started by Giorgio DeLuca called Cheese, where all those Soho minimalists really were. As if Donald Judd was still going there. Gordon Matta-Clark was really into the cheese shop. And actually, Joel Dean was working at Food, which was Matta-Clark’s artist-run socialist food project. Anyway, the booth looked like an infinity mirrored plinth grid with blocks of cheese on it, all that parmesan cheese, and it was amazing. It was kind of the early days of the mirror selfie, and it managed to go mildly viral and piss everyone off at the whole fair because it smelled so bad. It is this thing that manages to follow us to this day. Of course, no one remembers the nuances of the design, just that we designed the cheese stand. So we joked that it would be written on our tombstones that we designed the cheese stand at Design Miami.

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