A pair of unexpected discoveries recently greeted artists Arturo Mauricio, 24, and Mauricio Mercado, 30, after going out for drinks.
First, they walked past Gantry, a small bohemian spot on Thompson Street.
Then Mauricio remembered that he just saw the Airbnb listing for an artist’s loft he and Mercado recently purchased.
“We’re very excited because we love this neighborhood,” Mauricio said, sitting in a wood-paneled den, to which they brought their dogs. “This wasn’t anticipated at all. We thought that we were going to have a really great night out.”
Now, they are surprised that the building in which they plan to reside—located about two blocks south of Thompson and just off Chapel Street in the East Village—is the kind of place that some creative types might consider “normal” or “old-fashioned” or even “corporate.”
“We wanted to feel like we can be our most authentic selves here,” said Mauricio, adding that he and Mercado hope to use the space as a community space, as well as a place to exhibit their work.
With a flair for organization, Mauricio started a Kickstarter campaign for the loft in July, just a week after they closed escrow. He is aiming to raise $26,000, with a goal of finishing the project by Halloween.
Airbnb, he said, allows artists “to create a space, pay an artist and have the work under their roof. I think it’s important to create more space for artists.”
When they move in, Mauricio and Mercado hope to dedicate one room to an artist living in an Airbnb home near them. They are also working on a series of murals, and showing off a room stenciled with eye-catching selections from a dictionary.
By refusing to pay any rent, the couple is attempting to demonstrate that sharing apartments is an issue for artists as well as for more traditional tenants. The idea behind this, Mauricio said, is that the Loft doesn’t need to be a basic three-bedroom apartment.
Mauricio and Mercado, both bilingual, expect to expand the loft’s kitchen to a small dishwasher to make it easier for their dogs, a retriever named Kyson and a terrier mix named Lili.
“We know how to be good neighbors,” Mauricio said. “We just want everyone to be happy here.”