Ryan Fitzgibbon is no stranger to living a nomadic lifestyle. The founder of Hello Mr, the popular magazine “About Men Who Date Men,” Fitzgibbon has been a constant traveler for most of his adult life. Born and raised in Michigan, he lived in San Francisco, Brazil, Singapore, and Australia before settling into his current home-base: New York City. Even within the confines of Brooklyn and Manhattan, though, he has shifted his residence more than once. “With all of this travel on my CV,” he says, “I’ve become a bit of a minimalist. You have to be comfortable with whatever space you have when you’re always on the go.” This mindset proved to be of particular use when he moved to his most recent home, a minuscule shared space in Chinatown that, per Fitzgibbon’s description, resembles an exaggerated Tetris block.
“The layout of my Chinatown flat is…well, unique,” he says. “So I had to get creative with how to fit enough furniture into the space and make it functional for entertaining and storage.” Entertaining and the ability to work from home (a must for Ryan, who is never quite “off the clock”) were of particular importance. The communal area of the apartment is indeed a challenge: with incongruous walls and door openings and windows to take into account, managing to fit just about anything in this almost comically “New York” space is a challenge. Luckily, both Ryan and Lily Giron, the west elm Design Crew stylist he enlisted to assist on the project, were up to the task. The duo opted for clever multi-functional pieces to make the most of the space—a miniature sectional to house multiple guests, a modern desk/shelf unit to double as a storage and workspace. The end result was one that is something of a miracle—a shoebox Manhattan apartment that somehow manages to be a comfortable home. “I really feel like my little shoebox in Chinatown is a refuge for me amongst it all,” Ryan says. “The location is what drew me to it—it really feels like the center of Manhattan the minute you walk out the front door and are greeted by the fresh fruit stands and a sea of tourists. But anyone who has ever lived in or visited New York City knows how important personal space is.” Take a tour of this fabulous small space below!
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt