When Emily Adams Bode and Aaron Aujla first moved into their downtown Manhattan rental, it was just an empty white box—no kitchen, no walls, barely any electrical wiring. But the one winning feature, a wood-burning stove, was enough to spark their imagination. “When friends come over, they don’t understand we built all this,” Bode says on a recent visit to the apartment. Almost entirely clad in African mahogany and coffee-stained Douglas fir, the home now has the patina of a space that’s been there awhile. And that, Bode says, “was the goal.”
Over the last few years, she and Aujla, who met in 2010, have crafted separate businesses around that very idea: giving new things a sense of history. Bode’s eponymous menswear line recalibrates American textile traditions into patchwork jackets and revised workwear staples that earned her the CFDA’s 2019 Emerging Designer of the Year Award. (Some garments are made with antique fabrics, while others are painstakingly based on them.) Meanwhile, Aujla, operating under the name Green River Project, which he cofounded with Benjamin Bloomstein in 2017, makes furniture laden with sprawling historical references—from 1930s legend Jean-Michel Frank to Indian craft to down-home woodworking.
Both Bode and Aujla thrill to heavily researched, narrative-driven collections that often seem to follow the same script—as if Green River Project were appointing a home for Bode garments. (That was precisely the case for the fashion label’s Hester Street store, opened last year.) When it came to decorating their first shared apartment, the process was not all that different, starting with a story of a place and the people in it. “I know how much Emily longs for New England,” says Aujla, referencing her family home on Cape Cod, which inspired Bode’s debut collection in 2017. “We imagined that house, coming back to American ready-made materials but with a European sensibility.”
Re-creating that rustic canvas, Green River Project built almost everything—from the wooden wall panels to the furniture, including a dining table that features the outline of the firm’s namesake river in upstate New York. “We like this idea that instead of buying things for the home, you make them,” says Bode, whose only requests were a big closet and a vintage soaking tub next to a window. “Eventually you build your entire world.” The couple has since filled it with relics from Bode’s family history (a child’s chair from her aunt, her grandmother’s clover lace) alongside tokens of Aujla’s Indian heritage, including a trio of Himalayan masks on stands, a bamboo folding screen, and a collection of Ravi Varma prints.
The apartment has quickly become an extension of their nearby studios, offering a private space for meetings and a laboratory for their wares. “We made this tobacco-and-hydrangea chandelier and immediately brought it here,” says Aujla. “And we recently did a show of hardware, made from scrap wood, that we later installed on our cabinets.”
One of the few things the couple didn’t make from scratch, a Ward Bennett love seat, faces a corduroy sofa from Bode’s fall 2019 presentation. Inspired by a Purdue University tradition wherein graduating seniors would draw symbols on their trousers, the piece is covered in images penned by Aujla and their friend Kurt Beers. “Emily’s aunt’s name is on there with a Delacroix tiger, some Satyajit Ray motifs, and these illustrated running stretches my dad gave me,” says Aujla of the sentimental scribbles. “They’re all motifs from our 10-year history, and they all have to do with our home.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest