Girl in a Cloud
A visit to Monica Hofstadter’s dreamy Brooklyn studio.
Words and photographs by Marie K. Stotz
When asked to define what she does,
25-year-old Brooklyn-based textile designer Monica Hofstadter paraphrases the industrial designer Eva Zeisel, who once declared herself a “maker of useful things.” Hofstadter makes useful—not to mention beautiful and one-of-a-kind—things and so much more, in an airy, light-filled studio that serves as the ideal showroom for her ethereal pillows, blankets, and rugs. In Monica’s world, she works from a table strewn with balls of yarn and knitting needles of all sizes. A pair of fluffy slippers lies in wait. Knit fabric swatches (some silver, many variations on cream) cover two walls, and stacks of her pillows and poufs are available for collapsing onto whenever the mood strikes.
Growing up, Hofstadter and her family moved to a new city almost every year, a practice that’s followed her into adulthood: Since moving to New York seven years ago, she has lived in 10 different apartments. It’s this nomadic existence that has likely led to her fascination with the notion of home and the importance of creating one’s own sanctuary—especially in a city as sporadic as New York. As Hofstadter says, “There’s something really expressive about your home—there’s an introversion to it, and you’re not asking for attention in the way that clothes are expressive. It’s much more intimate.” Hofstadter, who majored in Urbanism and Textiles at Parsons, crafts all of her pieces by hand using natural fibers mainly sourced from the United States, with the exception of Mylar, and draws inspiration from the moon and outer space (hence the Mylar, a material originally designed by NASA for space exploration). “ My dream would be to decorate the NASA headquarters,” she says.
Hofstadter’s studio conveniently doubles as her bedroom, and she shares her sweeping Gowanus loft with seven other creatives. “Yes, we live together, but we also kind of work together like colleagues. Everyone is super connected to all of these other creative people in the city, and I’m always trying to collaborate with and support as many people as I can,” Hofstadter says. I can attest to this: The morning I visit her, she lends a few pairs of shoes to a fellow housemate who’s mid-photo shoot.
Hofstadter has long been one of those fascinating people I only knew through Instagram, so stepping into her studio felt like stepping into her very own 3D moodboard. The way Hofstadter describes it, her business developed almost accidentally. “I didn’t really intend to just work for myself,” she explains. “I quit my job without a plan and then just started doing freelance knitwear work. That was when I realized I needed to express myself creatively and focus on my art. One of the main things that bothered me about working for someone else full time was that I didn’t feel like I was making enough time to focus on what was within, and I felt like I just needed to make that sacrifice. I decided to make some stuff that I could sell, and it kind of just went from there.”
Thus far, Hofstadter is reveling in her professional independence. “It’s amazing!” she says. “I feel really alive. I don’t feel super secure all the time, but I really feel like I’m living in a way that I didn’t when I was in an office.” At this point, Hofstadter mainly sells her creations online, but she also hosts the occasional studio sale and currently has stockists in Detroit and Los Angeles.
For anyone looking to turn their creative side gig into a full-time job, Hoftstadter shares some sage wisdom: “No one really knows what they’re doing. People take wild guesses and a lot of stabs in the dark, and everyone is kind of walking around with a blindfold…. You just have to take a step—whatever that may be.”
Explore Hofstadter’s work here.