• UO on Campus: Ryan Cunningham


    Ryan Cunningham's New York apartment may be right in the middle of a bustling, busy neighborhood, but walking into the graphic designer's apartment feels like a pared-back modern oasis. Learn more about how the native New Yorker is influenced by her surroundings and the local community in designing her space.
    Photos by Anna Ottum


    Can you share a bit more about yourself — who you are, where you’re from, and what you do?
    I am a native New Yorker, I was born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem my whole life and I love living uptown. The energy, the vibe, the authenticity of the people is just unmatched anywhere else in New York City. It's perfect for me, I am pretty much a ball of energy, very free spirited, and sometimes a bit of a tomboy, which really shocks people because of my sometimes young and shy appearance. 
    I am currently a freelance graphic designer and I really love the freedom of managing my own work load and being my own boss. However, I'm currently in the process of working more in social media. I love content creation and developing social media brand strategies. It sounds like an extreme change but I've always seen graphic design as a merge of logical solutions to creative issues and in creating social media content. 

    How long have you been in your current space? Tell us more about it!
    This space is extremely light-filled and spacious. It's a quiet small street in the middle of a very bustling neighborhood, so waking up on a Saturday morning to quiet surroundings and light pouring in always feels more like an oasis that living smack dab in the city.


    What was one of the main things you were looking for when hunting for your apartment? 
    The absolute most important thing about an apartment for me is lighting and then space. I am pretty simple in terms of my needs, but I can't live without great lighting. I am constantly photographing and creating content, but also light really affects my mood. Waking up to large amounts of sunlight just makes me feel safe and at peace. 

    Can you share a bit about your neighborhood + location — what you like about it and how it informs your view of the city.
    I have lived in the Spanish Harlem/Washington Heights area my whole life; it just feels like home. Growing up in New York gives you such a different view of it than being a transplant. I have always been friends with local business owners—they've watched me grow up and are my friends. The locals are so unified and band together to help raise each other up. I'm exposed to so much culture and energy every day and it makes me feel so comfortable and invited. It reminds me that I know what it really means to live in New York and be molded by it no matter how much the neighborhoods change. 

    How do you describe your aesthetic when it comes to styling out your space?
    Styling my space is similar to how I design: I am constantly asking myself how can I communicate a specific feeling with as less as possible. I want my space to feel modern, clean, and inviting all at the same time. That usually involves cutting down on how much furniture I have, as well as using color to convey a certain mood. 


    What are some of your favorite possessions?
    My magazines and my records! I treasure them so much...nobody can open one of my magazines unless I have fully read it. I don't really let anyone touch my records either. People think I'm a little dramatic, but those are the closest things I'll have to kids in a long time!

    Do you collect anything?
    I try my best not to, because my house can get cluttered really quickly but I really like to collect glass jars and find new uses for them. 

    What’s your favorite part about your space?
    The light. It's perfect

    What’s your least favorite part?
    The commute into the city


    What’s your favorite thing to do on a night staying at home?
    I love to light my favorite candles, cook a new meal and put on my favorite records. I'll do a few face masks and maybe edit photos. It's a perfect night for me. If I'm not tired I'll watch the Matrix or Inception.

    What’s on rotation right now for you both: music, books, movies, and/or other at-home activities you’re into
    Music: Kaytranada is my newest obsession, Kendrick Lamar (always) and I love Flume's new album. I always have some good samba or latin jazz playing in my room Tito Puente or Celia Cruz always help me to get my work done. 
    Books: I read mostly magazines and I've recently fallen for Plethora magazine (giant life sized publication) and Drift magazine. I think it's really well written and explores a culture so thoroughly. 

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