Decorating & Design

July 9, 2010

The Selby Is In Toronto

The Selby is one of my favourite pit stops in the blogosphere. A trifecta of cool, it delivers voyeurism, star gazing and, yes, great design. But that’s just part of its charm. New York photographer Todd Selby started the blog two years ago when he began snapping portraits of his hipster friends inside their wacky, wonderful, winsome homes. His style immediately resonated with readers like me, who delight in seeing interiors in their lived-in, unstyled state — never mind that the owners are a celebrated artist or a legendary surfer.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Alexander Wang

Each blog entry is followed by a handwritten Q&A that’s filled out by the owners and often covered in Todd’s own watercolour doodles. These are now a Selby signature and add to the blog’s quirky personality.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Canada Q&A

This was the Q&A filled out by guests at the media launch party, when Todd was in Toronto recently to promote his first book, The Selby Is In Your Place (2010 Abrams).

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Book Signing

After fulfilling his book signing at Holt Renfrew, I sat down with Todd for a Q&A of my own:

Did the idea for The Selby start as a way to capture people or their places?

I started as a portrait photographer, so I came to it through the portrait angle. The photos and illustrations all tell a visual story about creative people and their personal spaces. That’s my focus; it’s more about the people who are there and how their space reflects them. That’s what I like.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Portrait Turquoise

Can you usually guess what someone’s home will be like before you see it?

No. You can guess, but you can’t really know. Home is very different for different people. For some, it’s a place you crash, for others it’s a place for your family. There are just so many different situations.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby James Gibbs Bedroom Horse

Your pictures usually just have simple captions and in many cases, none. Why?

Because people don’t read! Plus, I want to tell a story visually through the pictures. I like to leave interpretation open to the imagination.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Kids

How do you choose what spaces to feature?

There are no rules. I try to make them as diverse as possible. And the person has to be interesting: them, their style. I have to be attracted to that. The places I shoot tell a story about the person.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Living Room

What’s with all the crazy collections and homes with a borderline messy aesthetic?

My look is very of the culture. It’s a backlash to that super modern, dot-com, end of the ’90s era. It’s messy, human and organic. People tell me, “Your website makes me feel okay with collecting weird things, being messy, having weird shoes.” I never thought it would have any impact, but if it does, that’s amazing.

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Swing Sean MacPherson

How would you draw yourself as an animal?

Photo Blog July 9 The Selby Todd Selby Turtle

Enough said.

For more of our favourite blogs, visit our Design Sites We Like page.

Photo credits:
1. Fashion designer Alexander Wang in his New York studio, The Selby
2-3. Kimberley Brown
4. Carpet designer Malene Barnett in her Brooklyn home, The Selby
5a. Dick Page and James Gibbs in their New York home, The Selby
5b. Artists Máni Lucjan Jurewicz and Úrsúla Miliona Jurewicz in their New York home, The Selby
6. Sarah Cottier, Ashley Barber and Ruby Barber’s Sydney home, The Selby
7. Artist Hunt Slonem’s New York studio, The Selby
8. Hotelier Sean MacPherson in his New York home, The Selby
9. Kimberley Brown