real home: emmanuel pratt (this is a man’s world)

Emmanuel Pratt

real home: emmanuel pratt

Emmanuel Pratt, photographer/activist/artist/architect/web-designer/Ph.D candidate in Urban Planning at Columbia University/owner of Makeshift Media and my sometimes play-brother, opens up his Pilsen apartment to Urban Casita. Gruf, as we call him, set up shop in Chicago after a brief time in New York City, where he semi-settled, post visiting lectureship at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He traveled across the country in a rented mini-van bursting at the seams and put his home together rapidly.

These photos show his apartment four months after move-in day.
He attached them to an email with this remark:

“ain’t nothing new in the crib except for 2 items… the tv and my office chair in the back. everything else is years old or hand me downs or off craigslist. but it works.”

I’m inclined to agree.

emmanuel pratt 1

Years Lived In: 4 months
Size: 1400 sq feet, 1.5 bath, open loft
Neighborhood: Pilsen, Chicago
Building History: Pre-war, refurbished semi-industrial loft

How many apartments did you look at before choosing this one?
Two on the same day, but after seeing this I was DONE. I closed the deal and drifted back to NYC.

What made you choose it?

Wood floors and beams, exposed brick, open loft, light, basketball court across the street, secret garden in the back, easy access to public transportation, bike-ability, a vibrant arts community. Plus, it was the same price as my old spot in Harlem but double the space.

Your home’s style?

Loft transience, flux.

emmanuel pratt 6

What resources did you use for your home?

Locally found objects, parts and materials, Home Depot.

Did you design around one piece of furniture, art or fabric, etc?

Everything is recycled, donated, remixed or handmade. Workstation first, ’til the couch came ($350 from Craigslist), then the TV. Everything else fit in between.

emmanuel pratt 2

Has your style changed through the years?

How could it not? Cyclically though. The core base has remained ever-so-consistent. For example, I gave away a button down, left-right pocket, army-style shirt I had had since ’96. I’ve seen the same shirt in high-end stores for more than ninety bucks. Keep what you have and work with it. Why reinvent the wheel? Just make it more robust to cover more terrain and be more versatile. Gruf-refinement, (r)evolution, makeshift.

emmanuel pratt 3

What item you have kept through all of your apartments?

An Ikea desk from the as-is section for 15 bucks and a gray bookshelf.

What are you waiting to splurge on?

A surround sound system to go with my tv.

What aspect of your apartment do you like the most?


The least?

Drafts in the winter.

If you could change one thing about your apartment, what would it be?

Less homogeneity in the ‘hood, better acoustics for home theater.

emmanuel pratt 5

A Little Bit of Random

Morning ritual at home: Stare up into the trees from the bed, grab pen and pad from bedside to recollect dream sequences and to-dos for the day, pushup/pullup combo to coffee, check Gmail, check in with Growing Power, check for any brainstorm correspondences with ye Olde Sir Godsil of Sweetwater Organics, peruse Wooster Collective, LikeCOOL, BBC, CNN, Milwaukee Renaissance, Archinect, et al.
Evening ritual at home: Movie while eating or reading and taking notes while partaking spirits.
Always in your fridge: a Growing Power market basket, gin or vodka, cheddar cheese, fruit.
Most recent acquisition: 1947 Konica from rummage sale ($5 bucks)
Last book you read: Critical Perspectives on Housing
Last meal you ate: Collard greens, salted carrots, chunky potato soup with four cheeses and mounds of saltine crackers, chicken wings, mandarin spice tea… Don’t judge me.
Last music you listened to: Julie Dexter-Ketch a Vibe, Nina Simone – Here Comes the Sun (remixed & re-imagined), Zero 7- Home
Item you have on your person at all times: 12 megapixel Sony camera, keys, black book of thoughts and visions, basic nomad essentials (toothbrush, deodorant, 2 hats, iPod touch, phone + charger, 8 gb usb jumpdrive).

Want your home featured on Urban Casita?


8 responses to “real home: emmanuel pratt (this is a man’s world)

  1. Awesome!!!! I love what Emmanuel did with his place… his personality is everywhere yet it is very light!!!

  2. camera display case is real nice-n-clean

  3. I’m hunting for one of those display cases now, too. Wanna use it for dishware, sculpture or books.

  4. Very nice space! Loft-transience sounds like a movement or a Jedi-concept.

  5. WOW!

    what an amazing looking home. I just love the simpleness. It is super great.

    Renee x

  6. do you know more about emmanuel? i’m looking for a guy who grew up in virginia and should be in his early 30’s. if you have info where i can find more info (public info) would appreciate…thnx

  7. Hi,
    Been looking for this guy for years. If you could pass on my email address to him. i’d be very gratefull. i worked with him when he was working on documentary for some youth organisations based on the Africa Advocacy Workshop which was held in Lusaka Zambia in 2003.
    Many thanks,

  8. Pingback: summertime chicago: two things to do this weekend | urban casita

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