The pint-sized real estate market geared towards miniature hobbyists is expansive, architecturally imaginative, and often questionable with options ranging from eco-modern adult dollhouses to HO-scale Kentucky Fried Chicken Drive-Ins to Department 56 Christmas Villages.
But what about miniature buildings that are decorative yet realistic, plush yet gritty and not inspired by wargames, railroads, or Precious Moments? How about cuddle-worthy buildings directly influenced by the architecture of, let's say, Brooklyn?
Brooklyn-based designer Patrick Chirico, best known for his recycled vinyl record creations with Wrecords by Monkey, seems to have that market cornered with his Build Your Block pillow collection that’s inspired by the housing stock of New York City’s biggest, baddest, most bodegalicious borough. Each Build Your Block pillow — made from 100 percent cotton with an eco-friendly recycled polyester fiberfill — sports an original photographed image of a specific, common-in-Brooklyn building facade: the corner deli, the South Brooklyn brownstone, the ubiquitous 5-floor walk-up (with optional deli underneath), the vinyl-clad urban cottage, the contemporary Williamsburg interloper (most likely stalled mid-construction), the abandoned tenement, and more. Plus, there are not one but two sets of four miniature foreground pillows of things like ATMs, fire hydrants, hotdog vendors, overflowing garbage cans, and bikes chained to bus stop signs. And for real completists, there’s the Brooklyn Bridge Pillow Case Set.
Explains the Build Your Block website: "The idea behind Build Your Block is so everyone can recreate a Brooklyn street in their own home. They can pick and choose the buildings and colors that most inspire them, and arrange them on a couch or bed to give their décor a cozy, urban feel."
I really dig Chirico’s “construct your own urban village on your couch with pillows” concept and I’m sure preschool-aged urban planners, bedridden city boosters, and Marty Markowitz do as well. Although I didn’t grow up in Brooklyn, I would have loved these as a kid as they combine three of my favorite childhood things: naptime and real estate. As an adult who does live in Brooklyn, I’m relieved that not included in the Build Your Block collection are plush versions of two common sites on my block: feral cats and weirdo drunks.
Check out the entire collection over at the Build Your Block website (the pillows are also available over at Design Public). Inspired to buy? Prices for the washable, dry cleanable building pillows range from $36 for a brownstone to $72 for a bar/restaurant with apartments up top. The miniature foreground sets are $28 for four pillows while the Brooklyn Bridge Pillowcase set is $30. And if you’re more interested in creating a menagerie than a gritty Brooklyn street scene on your couch, there’s always Ross Menuez’s organic cotton Fauna pillows for Areaware.