Nadja Spiegelman, creator of Curated Craigslist, at her desk. Photo by Laura Foxgrover.
We all know a New York minute is shorter than most – almost as short as young New Yorkers are on cash. But bargain-hunting takes precious time, so what’s a frugal borough-dweller to do? Enter Curated Craigslist. The “procrastination project” of a New York creative currently writing in Paris, Curated Craigslist tackles the sprawling plain text monster and wrestles it into a sleek, high-design tumblr. Since such great things seem to spring from her procrastination, I decided to keep Nadja Spiegelman away from her writing for a few minutes longer. Consider it a public service, and get to know the woman behind the laptop below (be sure to let us know if you become her first custom curation client!).
Home town: NYC, Soho
Dream town: Constant teleportation between New York and Paris
I heard a rumor you’re not in NYC right now – is Curated Craigslist your way of pining for The City? Yes, absolutely! Looking at craigslist is a way of feeling New York’s pulse.
So if not in NYC, where are you now and what are you doing? I’m living in Paris, working on a book about my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (their adolescence, the changeable nature of memory, and what it means to tell stories about the past). Also, eating a lot of cheese.
Best/favorite thing you’ve found on craigslist so far. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things I would love to own like this drafting desk and this chair – but my favorite things to come across are the very strange like this antique toilet and this clock table.
What is it about Craigslist? Craigslist is a wonderful place to find a great deal — but it also connects you to the city in a way that I love. You go into people’s homes, meet the people who’ve owned the items before you. I bought my desk from a young man in Bay Ridge whose grandmother had just died — he was staying in her apartment long enough to sell off her furniture. We ended up having coffee and he told me a bit about his grandmother. My desk was hers for over 50 years, and now I think of her when I use it. My dresser came from a woman around the corner who turned out be a world class poker champion — she was selling all her furniture dirt cheap and moving to Las Vegas. I love having a sense of the lived experience of the objects around me.
I already love Curated Craiglist – but pretend I don’t. Why should I? You shouldn’t! I mean, you certainly don’t have to. I made it with myself and my friends in mind. When I was in my early-20s, in my first apartment, this whole new category of desire opened up. Suddenly, there were so many things to want — couches and rugs and lamps and a nice duvet cover. But of course, immediately afterwards you realize how insanely expensive those things can be, and my friends and I have always been a bit broke. So on my site, I try to mostly post items that are a very good value — if you have a $700 budget for a coffee table, you might as well buy a new one.
Do you take custom curation clients?
I don’t know what a custom curation client would be but it sounds like something that might pay money. In that case, definitely.
You’ve been given a bunch of new titles lately – Craigslist’s best rummager, furniture obsessive, Neo-like…what’s your favorite so far? It’s all gone straight to my head! It’s very very distracting. I’m having a hard time not constantly googling my own name. Refinery29 called me a “blessed genius” and I certainly wouldn’t complain if people only called me Blessed Genius from now on.
Are you a furniture obsessive? Well, yes and no. I look at design blogs often, but my interest is more direct and practical. I think there’s something deadening about a society where we define ourselves solely by our consumer choices. But there’s still something very profound about the act of creating your own home. If clothing and personal style is a way of projecting an identity to the world, then maybe decorating your home is a way of creating a private, personal identity for yourself. For a long time now, I’ve used clothing as way of growing into and out of more transient identities, and for me creating a nice living room is a way of becoming rooted in a stable more adult self.
So how’s that book coming? shhhhh
Any previous procrastination projects we should know about? Haha I love the term “procrastination project.” I hope that takes off. I can easily imagine people at New York dinner parties asking each other about their current procrastination projects. But no, all of my previous procrastination has not been very goal-oriented.
Best advice you’ve ever received. From my mother – “you need to know what you want before you can get it.” My mother is slightly intimidating. Even her friends call her Super Woman. She wakes up at 3 am to fix our plumbing, and then works not one but two high-powered jobs. I once saw her get a couch through a door frame that was just way too narrow by pushing against it and saying “Couch, go in!” It was physically impossible, she must have bent space-time. When she wants something to happen, it happens. And a large part of her power comes from the force of her will — she simply refuses to believe that things won’t go her way. Her advice was useful in teaching me to channel that – because before you can get to that stage, you need to know, very clearly, what it is that you want. And from my father, a deep trust in my own subconscious. He taught me to frame questions in my mind before falling asleep and to allow my mind to work on them over night. And he taught me that my mind might do many things I wasn’t even quite aware of – protect me from difficult realizations until i was ready to deal with them, or work through problems even when I didn’t know I’d been thinking about them. I wonder if sometimes I use that to justify procrastinating… But I think it was useful. When I was outlining my book, I spent a lot of time drawing to-scale floor plans and placing furniture in them. I think I was triggering my mind to think spatially, and in the end it really did help me with my outline.
Write a haiku about Craigslist. antique rocking chair well-loved, in good condition please take it away Nadja remains committed to NYC and doesn’t plan to expand to other cities – but she “would be very flattered if people began their own versions elsewhere.” You heard her, America. Go forth and curate!