At first glance, Dee Adams's live/work apartment in Oakland, California, seems pretty typical for a loft space: 15-foot-high windows, soaring ceiling, open floor plan and mid-century modern furnishings. But take a closer look and you'll find something completely unexpected. Dee's got an obsession...for vintage lunchboxes, which she has hunted down over the years on eBay and at garage and estate sales. Her collection of these graphic containers takes up a large bookshelf that spans an entire wall.
How did it all start? Dee, a director of design at Yahoo! and an artist, grew up using several of the lunchboxes. She kept those and when she got her first job in New York right out of college, she began scouring the world and the internet for them. Unusual? Certainly. But for Dee there was more to it than that. "They were also wonderful memories of my childhood and days gone by," she tells us. Nonetheless, there is a use for them. "My vintage lunch box collection serves double duty as a filing system for important papers and business receipts. Finding creative ways to keep organized allows me to keep the space from getting too cluttered," Dee told the Herman Miller blog.
While building up her lunchbox collection, Dee has also managed to satisfy her love of thrifting and mid-century design. The furnishings in her loft apartment come from all over the world. Her favorite rattan egg chair was found in Mexico and her tangerine and sky-blue glassware collection was sourced from far-flung places like Australia and Italy. "I thrift worldwide for pieces I love and supplement my more expensive investment pieces with those," she says. Her most recent purchase is an eight-foot-tall, four panel vintage wood screen that separates the bedroom from the rest of the loft, which doubles as her personal art studio outside of her full-time job.
Dee's artwork is just as varied as her home pieces. She creates abstract minimalist paintings in bold colors as well as graphic design and illustration, which include posters and print work. ("My love of orange is notorious," she adds.) One look at her Pop Art-style pieces, and it's clear where much of her inspiration comes from: Her lunchboxes. "Their style, the amazing illustrations and design all spoke to me as a graphic artist," she explains. "They encapsulate certain eras of pop culture perfectly."
For a peek inside Dee's loft apartment, flip through the slideshow below. All photos by Dee Adams. And let us know what you think of Dee's vintage lunchbox collection. Do you have an unusual collection? Let us know in comments below.