What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
I was born in New York to 2nd generation Eastern European Jews who wanted some sunshine and frankly at the age of 3, I was ready for Hollywood, so we moved West. I’ve been back and forth twice – once for grad school (NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program) and once to found a company (http://studioakko.com) and my family still lives in West LA.
Describe your experience in NYC.
Like a Californian, I look forward to summers by the pool, try to eat healthy, go cycling on the weekends, and host dinner parties (the first time I suggested that to some Manhattan friends, they said: “Where? In your apartment?”). I also try to spend a night in once in awhile. I never had such severe FoMo (Fear Of Missing Out) like I do in New York but if you want to be a creative here, sometimes you just have to order take out and pretend like there’s nothing to do out there.
What was the biggest challenge of moving from LA to NYC?
Living space. When I moved for college, I had a series of random, probably illegal sublets. My favorite was a “3 bedroom convertible” (~400 sq ft studio shared w/ three guys) on Thompson and Bleecker, and the woman I rented from had a life-sized black and white photograph of Jeff Buckley holding a glass of wine and making a pouty face which I couldn’t hide anywhere because there were no closets. Luckily I didn’t have much time to date in school.
How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
In terms of the work my studio does do in product design and tech, the two are perfect polar opposites when it comes to understanding audiences and opportunities. Density vs. Sprawl. Taxis vs. Convertibles. What seems like a good idea in NYC may seem like a dumb idea in LA, and vice versa. If you’re trying to make products for the nation and you haven’t spent considerable time in both places, you’re probably only seeing a part of the picture.
Favorite LA secret spot
Reel Inn on the Pacific Coast Highway. The smell of the ocean, Mahi Mahi, a Corona.
Favorite NYC secret spot
The Manhattan Sailing Club, more specifically, the honorable William Wall – a floating barge between NYC and Jersey. Spectacular views and you can order Seamless by speedboat.
If you were not at AKKO, what would you be doing?
I’d be spending more time working on some of my music projects, such as the Mandolin Man Band or a Jewish R&B/soul collective.