Cynthia is a photographer, artist, and mother living on the most gorgeous street in Brooklyn. She let me into her top floor brownstone apartment on a rainy day, that turned sunny and warm. It was so sweet and special. Here’s a window in…
LY: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
CE: I was born and raised in Montreal and Ottawa, Canada. My mother is French Canadian and my father from Togo, West Africa. I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Concordia University in Montreal and then moved to New York sixteen years ago. I am a photographer and filmmaker, and my work explores themes of identity, social justice, vulnerability, and self-representation. My commercial work is represented by Getty Images where I also work as a business development executive. My clients include the The New York Times and The Washington Post, to name a couple.
LY: What neighborhood do you live in and how long have you lived here?
CE: I’ve lived in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn for sixteen years.
LY: Wow, that’s a quite a long time. How has the neighborhood transitioned?
CE: I heard my first gunshots in this neighborhood, and it has changed a lot in the last few years. I love this community, our neighbors, our block, the small business owners. While I welcome the changes—the many new businesses and growth—it’s also impossible to ignore the fact that not everyone benefits from these changes.
LY: And how has your apartment transitioned along with time, the neighborhood, and your life?
CE: I first moved in this apartment in 2003, as a 22-year-old, with a dear friend as my roommate. Eventually, I got married and had a baby. My daughter’s room used to be my roommate’s and then my photo studio. So much has happened in this space. Being from Canada and not having family close, this apartment has brought so much stability to my life.
LY: Upon entering, your home feels well designed, but natural, with tiny little curated corners. how do you balance it?
CE: It’s our little urban sanctuary. The light is so special in this apartment. I love the historic details of the brownstone combined with more modern pieces and whimsical details.
LY: How do you manage the curated tiny things in your home?
CE: One of the perks of being a parent is that you get to relive your childhood in a way. I enjoy the art and science projects, the dressing up, the Barbies, the Lego, and Disney movies as much as she does.
LY: I’m obsessed with your dining room table, where is it from?
CE: This dining table is at the center of everything that we do in our home. We spend the most time around this table, working, doing homework, eating, drawing, hosting friends. It is from Crate and Barrel. The Louis Ghost chairs, which are Philippe Starck for Kartell, help open the space and are surprisingly so comfortable.
Chloe’s slip-ones, right here.
LY: When I visited, it was a rainy, then a sunny spring morning in Brooklyn, can you share a typical morning routine with us?
CE: I love mornings, and I wake up early naturally. Weekday mornings, we’re often rushing, especially since we decided to send Chloe to a French dual language school in Park Slope. It’s all about taking a quick shower, making coffee, answering urgent emails, preparing lunch, eating breakfast, and running out the door.
LY: what’s your most cherished piece in your apartment?
CE: My most cherished pieces are definitely friends’ art works and travel finds. The pink dress in Chloe’s room was designed by my super talented childhood friend, Daphne Karras, during her time at Lanvin. She also sketched the amazing portrait of Chloe and I that sits on top of my bed. I’m obsessed with Pharaoh Hatshepsut. There were only two or three women who managed to rule as pharaohs, and I have a beautiful sculpture of her in my room from a trip to Egypt in 2010.
LY: Your collection of perfumes is by far the best i’ve seen, what’s your go-to scent? and what’s your evening scent (if you have one?)
CE: I’m lucky to have a dear friend who is beauty editor and another who is an executive for a big cosmetics company, so part of what you saw are gifts. My go-to scent is Le Labo Santal 33. For spring and summer, I love Burberry Body.
LY: you’ve inspired me to bring my projector in the room for me and the kids to enjoy in bed, how are those nights for you two?
CE: I’m a film buff and love seeing movies on the big screen! This is our version of the big screen, and I love it because watching a movie becomes an event—we make popcorn and all.
LY: As a single mother, how do you create space in your home and your life for yourself?
CE: It is challenging to create space for myself. Having a community of friends and fellow moms has been my lifesaver. They are my family. We take turns watching our kids. In our home, having a large open bathroom with a giant window has been wonderful, and I often take a few minutes for myself, drawing a hot bath with bath salts and reading a good book.
LY: Okay, three words to describe the way your place feels?
CE: Authentic, open, warm
LY: When it comes to your art, your community, and your apartment, where do these worlds meet?
CE: Brooklyn inspires me everyday, but it has been hard to survive as an artist here. I’ve had to turn to the business side of the industry to have some stability. Everyone is a photographer nowadays. I’ve had to stay focused and have a strong sense of who I am, to not get distracted and to be successful.
Thank you SO MUCH, Cynthia!!!