downtownfrombehind (DFB) is a photographic series capturing subjects riding their bike from behind on some 200+ streets, avenues and lanes below 14th street in New York City.

The result is an environmental portrait for each street and subject with a goal to highlight a set of individuals, emerging and established, each uniquely contributing; culturally, socially and physically, to make this part of the city what it is today.

The project has been widely covered in the press, from New York Times, Huffington Post, Coolhunting, Vogue, Nylon Magazine and many blogs (thankyou).

Subjects photographed to date include industrial designers, architects, creative directors, restauranteurs, entrepreneurs, hoteliers, artists and academics.


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HORATIO STREET, Amy Azzarito, Managing Editor, design*sponge for Downtownfrombehind.

Amy Azzarito is the managing editor of Design*Sponge. She graduated from the Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt with a masters in the history of decorative arts and design and quite literally hasn’t stopped writing since. She‘s published essays on topics as diverse as the evolution of French cuisine and countercultural architecture. She is currently at work on Past and Present, a book that translates topics of design history into present-day craft projects and is based on her Design*Sponge column. When not researching design history, she practices yoga, skateboards, rides bikes, and tends to her bees, who live on a Brooklyn rooftop, and to her two cats, Loki and Freya, who allow her to live in their Williamsburg apartment. You can find her at Maison Premiere (an oyster bar and cocktail den inspired by hotel lobbies of days gone by) every other afternoon for one-dollar oyster happy hours. Yum. DFB.


BROOME STREET, Colin Tunstall, Josh Rosen and Morgan Collett are Saturdays Surf NYC for Downtownfrombehind.

Hurricane Irene is here.  Grab your emergency supplies from Saturdays and hit the coast, surf’s (apparently) up. Saturdays Surf NYC opened its doors on Crosby Street back in August 2009 and has since become a bit of a go-to spot for locals. They also serve one of the better coffees downtown. Baristas brew La Colombe in the front-of-shop espresso bar (thanks Mitch), boards, wetsuits and beachwear make for a decent retail hit through the middle, whilst out back a shaded deck with the odd hammock provides a beach like escape in the middle of Soho.  Don’t tell too many people, we like it just the way it is (translation, the hammock has our name on it). Happy to learn that they will soon be expanding with a store in Japan, congrats.  DFB


DUANE STREET, Jeremy Schaller, Brand Director at Schaller & Weber for Downtownfrombehind.

Schaller & Weber is the undisputed tri-state king of weisswurst, knackwurst, bockwurst, and plain old weiners. They’re the real deal. The original Schaller & Weber opened in 1937 (the uptown store is still in mint condition), and was one of many wurstmakers lining the avenues of the Upper East Side at the time. Still very much a family business, Jeremy spends his time biking between his many downtown clients, from Tribeca’s suit lined Blaue Gans Restaurant on Duane Street to hot spot Smith & Mills, its entrance through the industrial silver door under the red light on North Moore. So when next sat for a sausage at your favorite downtown venue, think of Jeremy, there’s every chance you’re ordering a Schaller & Weber cut. Jeremy; the only guy you need to call for a sausage, and the only guy you need to invite to your BBQ this summer. 

Side note: it takes a little under sixteen minutes to be completely surrounded by undercover police when riding with an oversized cleaver.  


HOWARD STREET, Martha Hunt, Model for Downtownfrombehind.

Discovered at a modeling competition (she was in the crowd), small town North Carolina lass Martha set sail to New York as soon as she finished penning her high school finals. You might recognize her from Hugo Boss or Y-3 campaigns or maybe an editorial spread in one of your favorite fashion magazines from Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Muse or Vogue. Whatever the case, we fell in love with the now New York local, Martha Hunt. When not traveling for work, she opts for a position on the best Chinatown rooftop in the city, her own. She’s inspired by the arts, music, fashion, film, Paris and the sea. Her must have travel item? Her Lieca digital camera. Martha plans on returning to school to become an astronaut. DFB.

Studded Warrior Cut Out Bustier by SENA New York, Models own skirt.


ELIZABETH STREET, Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, Founders of Roman & Williams for Downtownfrombehind.

Sit with Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer of Roman & Williams for a minute and you feel like you might be meeting an important part of design history. Like meeting Charles and Ray Eames of our generation. If you live in New York or visiting, then you’ve most certainly drank, ate or slept in one of their iconic bars, restaurants or hotels. She grew up in New York, studied here and in Florence, curated art shows through Soho before being handpicked by Martin Scorsese to work as the visual consultant for several of his films, which led to her 15 year career designing films all around the world. He is a gifted designer, artist, painter, etcher and drawer who is devoted to the study of architecture and architectural rendering. He does all of his presentation drawings by hand; The New York Times recently compared his oils and etchings to photographs by Joseph Sudek. The pair met in the 1990’s while working in Hollywood and in 2002 they founded Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors. The secret to living and working together?  They go on to finish one another’s sentences “We like the same things, we talk through everything, every little detail. I think its important to be on a similar frequency”.  New York City quite literally cannot get enough of happily married Stephen and Robin.  We especially thank you for providing the unmistakably Roman & Williams signature Ace Hotelthe lobby an addictive alternative to park a laptop midweek, The Standard Hotel’s Boom Boom room (best on sunset when you can enjoy the view in peace) feels like a decadent warm hug and not forgetting new favorite, The Dutch in SoHo.

Special thanks for Landmark Vintage Bicycles, East Village for providing the wheels.


EAST 11TH STREET, Jeremy Filgate, Creative Director Publicis and Angela Ong, TV Producer Grey for Downtownfrombehind.

Jeremy Filgate and Angela Ong. Husband and Wife. West Villagers. Bike Enthusiasts. Ad Geeks. Can’t keep their hands off one another. When Jeremy isn’t riding around grabbing a fist full of his wife’s booty, you can find him at Publicis. Jeremy has worked all over the world including Sydney, Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and now NYC. He’s addicted to eBay and is a constant collector of bikes, shoes, art, vintage sunglasses and furniture. When Angela isn’t having her booty grabbed by her husband, she’s playing TV Producer at Grey. She loves riding her bike, despite being hit by a car three years ago. Ouch. Angela is from Singapore where the two originally met. Creative Director meets sassy Producer, fall in love and conquer the world together. They make quite the terrific twosome. They’re always out riding their bikes so if you see them on the mean streets of NYC, sayg’day or, ni hao ma!  DFB.


VESTRY STREET, Nabil Ayers, Head of 4AD Records NY for Downtownfrombehind.

NYC native and longtime Seattle transplant Nabil Ayers returned to New York in 2008. He spent years playing drums in bands while simultaneously opening Seattle indie superstore Sonic Boom Records and running his own record label, The Control Group. He now heads the US office of the stalwart UK label 4AD and works with bands like The National, Blonde Redhead, tUnE-yArDs, Twin Shadow and St Vincent. If not at a show, Nabil can be found at The Ear Inn or Cody’s most evenings. Shot on a wet summer’s morning, Vestry Street was a place where Nabil spent most afternoons learning how to ride his bike as a kid, at a time when TriBeCa’s streets and it’s inhabitants were very different to the loft dwellers of today. DFB.


CANAL STREET, Monica Nelson, Graphic Designer / Art Director for Downtownfrombehind.

Monica has already had somewhat of an enviable career run. Directly out of Pratt Institute Brooklyn, she landed her first job at Urban Outfitters as a Graphic Designer working on their catalogs and a handful of one-shot special editions collaborating with some of her favorite photographers including Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Harmony Korine and Martin Parr. Some eighteen months later, (and just when she thought she could set up home in NYC), she’s all packed up and on her way to the west coast. She starts at Wieden + Kennedy this summer as an Art Director. And somewhere in between packing her apartment in Philly (where Urban’s headquarters reside) and moving her life to Portland Oregan, she is art directing a new contemporary gardening publication, Wilder Quarterly. Launching September 2011, this pumped up book is packed with lifestyle photography, ‘gardening porn’, and editorial content featuring interesting and innovative ideas across the horticultural continuum. And, no denying the movement, gardening is cool. DFB.


EAST BROADWAY, Naveen Selvadurai, Founder of foursquare for Downtownfrombehind.

Naveen Selvadurai (with Dennis Crowley) created foursquare in their East Village apartment back in 2009. By 2010 it had more than 10 million users. A typical day at foursquare is around 3 million check-ins (Saturday being the busiest day of the week), with about 600 million checkins overall. Busy. 

Naveen, New York, NY.  Days Out - 963. Check Ins - 3,589. Things Done - 928.  


FABIO NOVEMBRE for downtownfrombehind.

FABIO NOVEMBRE, Architect and Designer photographed during the Salone Del Mobile in Milan for downtownfrombehind.

Fabio Novembre, Architect, Designer, “Amateur”. (Fabio) ‘I don’t consider myself a professional, I consider myself an amateur. “Amateur,” in Italian, is dilettante, which means diletto. “Diletto” means having fun.’  Photographed leaving his Milan studio for downtownfrombehind.  

More images from Salone Del Mobile via   DFB.


WAVERLY PLACE, Brooke Coffey, Fashion Photographer and First Assistant for Downtownfrombehind.

Tanned all year round, Brooke Coffey (tries) to live in New York, but really the best place to catch her is LAX or JFK en-route to The Caribbean, most frequenting Turks & Caicos, St. Barts and sometimes Anguilla. She was spotted in the Tuileries Paris last week, then two days later popped up in Berlin. I think she is in New Orleans today? She’s a Photographer and First Assistant to fashion photographer Greg Kadel. You can see Greg’s (and her) work in the pages of Numero, Vogue or LOVE magazine most months. She likes cats, see her pet cheetah. Best travel tips - Xanax and Bose. Best hideout when back in NY - the satellite garden on her roof. Best coffee - Saturdays NYC on Crosby Street. DFB.

PIERO LISSONI for downtownfrombehind.

PIERO LISSONI photographed in Milan, March 2010 for downtownfrombehind.

This week ICFF kicked off in New York.  It’s difficult not to trip on an installation or find yourself in locations like the (formally) Great Jones Lumber Corporation Factory turned designer pop up store come mixed studio showroom come American Design Club(house) with help yourself iced Asahi filling the limited prime floor space remaining.  And unless you are in the industry, there’s a good chance the anonymous face you’re lining up alongside for your pretzel this afternoon is a famous architect or designer, like Piero Lissoni, who may (at least for the mere mortals not in the industry) go unnoticed.

I caught up with the very charming Piero in Milan recently. His studio is an enviable dream space for most I’m sure, large glass curtains opening rooms through to gardens’ of green vines and a feeling of ‘home’ encouraging one to sit, read, eat and work for an infinite amount of time amongst its crisp white walls. A nice spot for his 70+ staff of architects, designers and graphic designers each creating solutions for clients including Alessi, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, Kartell, Knoll International, Flos/Antares, Lema, Living Divani, Porro and Wella. Did I miss something? The firm has also built boats, hotels and flagship stores for mixed clients and not forgetting a tower for Ferrari.

Piero is riding a bike he designed, shot last month in Milan for downtownfrombehind an exclusive for   Enjoy design week NYC.  DFB.


BARROW STREET, Husband and Wife wonderfriends Benjamin Palmer and Elizabeth Valleau for Downtownfrombehind.

Husband and Wife wonderfriends Benjamin Palmer and Elizabeth Valleau have pretty busy days. He: CEO of the incendiary digital agency The Barbarian Group, with massive clients like GE, Samsung, Red Bull and Google. She: Creative Director of Live Events, a division at digital agency RGA, where she rubs shoulders with clients including Nike, Verizon, Mastercard, Walmart and L’Oreal. Benjamin also likes art, he’s on the board of directors for The Kitchen and The Art Directors Club. Elizabeth also likes fashion, she writes about men’s fashion and style for Esquire, as well as her own popular blog New Elizabethan. (good blog for boys, and for girls looking for their boys). They also both like food. With wizard chef Sam Mason (WD-50, Tailor) they created The Empire Mayonnaise Company, a small batch, artisanal sexy-delicious flavored mayonnaise. Get your lips on flavors like Black Garlic Mayo or Emu Egg Mayo at the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg (for now), global domination, Mayonation, if you will, is near. Oh, and did we mention how much they like each other?, as manifested by the fancy ‘His & Hers” Pashley bicycles. Orww. DFB.


CHARLES STREET, Stella Rankin, Event Specialist, Pinch Food Design for Downtownfrombehind.

Stella Rankin; Shakespeare major, moderate obsessive compulsive with a wine menu and championing a movement in green catering across the city. In a little under three years, Stella Rankin has passionately curated her career in events and catering. Last month she partnered with top-tier NYC culinary veteran Chef Bob Spiegel and Food Designer TJ Girard. Together they launched Pinch Food Design, an event catering group that delivers a bold new brand in catering. They believe in complete food integration and design, food as delicious as it is daring, and design as inviting as it is innovative. (And I tend to agree.) Always optimistic, bold and a pinch of crazy; Stella Rankin. DFB.


JANE STREET, Justin Kalifowitz, President, Downtown Music Publishing and Shayna Kulik, Founder & Editor of Pattern Pulp for Downtownfrombehind.

Shayna Kulik, a New York transplant (by-way-of Providence, RI) began her career as a shoe designer before launching Pattern Pulp, a leading authority on emerging trends in print and pattern design. Consulting for brands including Google, Heineken, Kiehls and Virgin, Shayna brings her unique perspective on all things repetitive and awesome. Justin Kalifowitz, a native New Yorker (who I’ve been told was making decent pocket money at age 11 by selling U2 posters on EBay long before you and I knew it existed) is the President of Downtown Music Publishing. The soho-based firm manages the song copyrights of a diverse group of artists including Mos Def, Motley Crue, Carla Bruni and Santigold.

This downtown couple merges their love of music and design by spending a good portion of the year traveling abroad. When not living out of a suitcase, they call Manhattan’s West Village home. DFB caught up with Shayna and Justin as they dusted off their bikes on the first day of spring and took a spin down cobblestoned Jane Street. DFB. 

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