Boxed Inspiration with Todd Selby

Published June 28, 2013

The interior of a space can do so much to convey the characteristics of its owner—parts of a personality can be reflected in the titles on a bookshelf or in the assortment of objects found on a worktable. Todd Selby has traveled the globe photographing various interiors for his website The Selby, capturing images of people and the places where they write, paint, draw, cook, imagine, and create. Selby was a fitting choice, then, for a collaboration with men’s luxury service Svbscription, which every three months sends to members a parcel in the mail containing items curated around a specific theme.

For Svbscription’s next mailing, Selby has partnered with talents from around the world to curate a series of exclusive designs to be sent out worldwide on Monday, July 1. The contents of the parcel will remain a mystery until its release; we recently spoke with Selby about pink chandeliers, travel, and his involvement with the latest mystery box.

J.L. SIRISUK: I heard you were traveling.

TODD SELBY: Yeah, I was gone for two months.

SIRISUK: Where were you?

SELBY: A bit everywhere. Asia, Africa, Europe, kind of pinging around; but I’m trying to stay put right now, so it’s fun to be home.

SIRISUK: And is home New York?

SELBY: Yeah, New York.

SIRISUK: This work you’re doing with Svbscription, how did that happen? Did they reach out to you?

SELBY: Yeah, they reached out to me, and I met up with them and checked out what they did. I thought it was really nice and high-end. I’d heard of some other, lower-end things where you subscribe to stuff on the Internet, but when I saw what they were doing, I was really excited. It’s cool because it’s really unique, and part of the decision that we made when we were working on it was that we were going to do stuff that you couldn’t find anywhere else. So that was a really fun proposition for me, because otherwise you can get everything online these days.

SIRISUK: Once you became part of this project, how did you decide whom you wanted to work with in choosing the items?

SELBY: It was really easy. I did it all in an afternoon. I mean, I’ve photographed almost 500 people now for The Selby, and I have so many different artists and creative people that I photographed. I have a running shortlist in my head of all these people that I want to work with and collaborate with and are doing neat things, so I just thought, “Oh, who would be cool. Who could do something really great for this theme of home?” So it just happened. That was quite easy for me, quite fun. It was calling up people and saying, “Hey, let’s do this thing together.”

SIRISUK: When I think back to growing up in my parents’ home, I remember this old, ugly lamp from the ’70s. When you think back to growing up and being at home, is there a certain object that kind of comes to mind?

SELBY: We had an ugly lamp, too. We had a pink stained-glass chandelier from my grandma, and it was horrible, it was ugly, and everyone would always make fun of it all the time. I remember one time my cousin actually took it down and hid it for a while. But yeah, I’m definitely happy that thing’s gone. I don’t know where it is, some thrift store somewhere.

SIRISUK: Will a miniature version of that chandelier be included in the collection?

SELBY: No, there should be a big, pink stained-glass chandelier. [laughs] That would be funny. That would be mean.

SIRISUK: What’s one of your favorite items you have in your own home?

SELBY: I have a giant silver punch bowl. It’s one of my favorite things, and it’s useless. It’s gigantic, but I just love it. I’ll use it one day. It’ll get used.

SIRISUK: Are you able to share anything about what’s going to be in the box?

SELBY: Yeah, totally. I can tell you I worked with people that I know from Mexico, London, New Zealand, and the U.S. And I can tell you that one of the things that I made for the box is a thing called Home Style Recipes, and it’s like a little wooden box that has these little index cards, kind of these index cards that my mom used to have when I was a kid with her favorite recipes. So the idea is that all these different great cooks and chefs and artists did recipes that they like to make when they’re entertaining. People like Tom Sachs the artist, and Eric Ripert from Le Bernardin and Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, and all these other people did little recipe cards, and there’s also blank recipe cards so you can add your own.

SIRISUK: That’s really cool!

SELBY: Yeah, it’s fun, and it’s cool because people did illustrations and it’s all in their own handwriting.

SIRISUK: How big is the box overall?

SELBY: I don’t know how big it is, like two shoeboxes put together. Maybe a little deeper than that.

SIRISUK: What are you working on now?

SELBY: I’d like to learn about New York again. I’ve been gone for so long; I want to check out my home town, go to the museums and shows and see what’s going on. That’ll be a fun project.

TO BECOME A MEMBER OF SVBSCRIPTION AND ORDER THE MYSTERY BOX, VISIT ITS WEBSITE. FOR MORE ON TODD SELBY, VISIT THE SELBY.