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It’s Lonely In the Modern World: Unhappy Hipsters Interview and Giveaway!

By babblejillian |

If you haven’t heard of the brilliant blog Unhappy Hipsters yet, you may be living under a rock — or merely too consumed by your despair in your aesthetically perfect, minimalist living room. Created by former coworkers Molly Jane Quinn and Jenna Talbott, the blog pokes fun at modern architecture and design — and the often morose subjects that seem to always inhabit the stark, uncluttered spaces featured in magazines and advertisements.

I got the chance to talk to Quinn and Talbott about their recently released book, It’s Lonely in the Modern World, which takes the ennui to new heights. Fans of the blog will be happy to find the classic photos and humorous captions from the site throughout, but what really makes this worth taking home is the effort the authors have put into making a complete disaffected-hipster guidebook, with tips on choosing between brushed or galvanized steel (spoiler: they’re the same) and how to accessorize your decor with children and pets.

Read our interview with Talbot and Quinn and find out who won a copy of It’s Lonely in the Modern World after the jump!

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Unhappy Hipsters Interview and Giveaway!

Four hundred glorious square feet ...

... and they couldn’t bear to be more than spitting distance from one another.
Credit: Unhappy Hipsters / Photo: John Clark

How did Unhappy Hipsters start?

Talbott: The magazine that we worked for was a regional home design magazine … we were always looking at other magazines to keep up on stuff, and it happened so organically. It was during a moment when we were looking at the most recent issue of Dwell to come in to the office. In the issue was a little boy all alone sitting on a staircase, just looking as miserable as can be. That was the spark.

Were you surprised at the response you receieved?

T: Totally.

Quinn: It was not intended to be what it became. It was a joke between Jenna and I, and it just got tweeted around within the first couple days and it went viral really quickly.

What was the adjustment like, from it being a private joke to everyone talking about it?

Q: We didn’t do any press right away because we only recently revealed ourselves as authors of the website. At the time, we were hesitant because we worked in the industry and didn’t want to jeopardize our jobs.

T: We almost went into hiding.

Q: Once it became clear that we weren’t trying to promote any agenda or promote ourselves, I think the curiosity died down and people just enjoyed the website for what it is.

T: Which is really nice! It was kind of scary when people were trying to figure out who we were.

Did any staffer at Dwell or a similar magazine respond?

Q: Yeah, a bunch of former editors emailed right away … They all really liked it. No one should take themselves too seriously, and they had a great sense of humor about it.

Do you think there’s a stuffiness in the design world that needs to be poked fun at?

T: Because we were putting together a magazine in the same vein and were looking at this stuff all the time, we hit this point of exhaustion. We just started to see the same thing over again, and there seemed to be a formula for putting together that Dwell-like home. I think that’s what when people started responding to the site: they hit on the same thing, and we just happened to put it in front of them.

Q:  These homes are custom homes, usually. They’re very expensive properties — even if they don’t seem so, because they’re often very minimalist — and I think there was a fine line between the self-seriousness of architecture, especially contemporary architecture, and the recession was happening. There was a certain feeling of this is not reality. And that’s what made it easy to parody.

Are there any design clichés that you are secretly fans of?

T: I do like natural textures and colors. I personally poke fun at the whole “bringing the outside in” idea of architecture, but in terms of decorating your home, that’s totally what I try to do! Like I’m living in a little woodland living room.

Q: We both love design. And you can see that in the book. I think that’s why the website succeeded: we weren’t just being mean-spirited. There was clearly an understanding there, and I think that’s what makes the book successful and the website approachable.

Are there any design books that you’d ideally want to see with It’s Lonely in the Modern World on a coffee table?

Q: I think any of the Case Study Houses books would be funny to have. It’s actually really funny because if you go on Amazon, they have that feature that shows you, “people that bought this, bought this.” Right now everyone who has bought our book has also bought Steve Jobs’ biography.

T: People have mentioned that to me, too! They find it hilarious.

Q: A lot of them have also bought the Case Study Houses books. But definitely the Steve Jobs book, there seems to be some kind of parallel thing. Maybe after you read it and you mourn his passing, you need to laugh, I don’t know.

T: You know what my theory was, Molly, was that’s because everybody is buying the Steve Jobs book.

Q: I kind of wondered that. I feel like you could look up Anna Karenina and it would be like … the Steve Jobs biography.

T: I think it would be fabulous if they were a Dwell fan, if they had our book next to their stack of Dwell, stack of other magazines, and had a certain sense of humor about it all.


Congratulations to reader Cathy, who won a copy of It’s Lonely in the Modern World with the following caption, chosen by Molly and Jenna themselves!

“Although he felt the kitchen was complete, it was with mixed emotions that Gilbert discovered this final accessory.”

If you didn’t win this time, turn that stylish frown upside down — check Unhappy Hipsters for more giveaways!

Photo credit: Dave Lauridsen

About babblejillian



Jillian Capewell is an editor and graduate of SUNY Geneseo in upstate New York, where she was an editor for the college newspaper. Jillian started at Babble as an intern and returned after spending a year teaching Beatles songs to French children. She has wanted to write for a living since completing the construction-paper classic Penguin Surprise Do Stuff at age four with the help of her mom, who had to spell all the words. Aside from Babble, Jillian’s work has also appeared on xoJane and Nerve.

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39 thoughts on “It’s Lonely In the Modern World: Unhappy Hipsters Interview and Giveaway!

  1. Shannon says:

    “I was into cereal way before you.”

  2. Michael says:

    The child typed the launch code into his Alpha-bits cereal, causing the Chardonnay-bottle missile to rise into position. The unsuspecting giant didn’t know what would hit him from behind if he risked taking another step closer.

  3. Johanna Euler-Mason says:

    Rüdiger often wished Hanna Andersson sold maple sweaters.

  4. suzanne says:

    “I’m sure Baby will love the $500 truffles”

  5. Jennifer Macquarie says:

    He smiled smuggly at his blonde baby that fit so perfectly with the blonde timber decore of his designer home.

  6. v.lynn says:

    Geoff looked on as little Mason sat at the table and congratulated himself on his final decision to go with the birch countertop.

  7. Veena says:

    Phil thought he had specified ecru to the adoption agency, but the kid was definitely more mother-of-pearl. Next to the the smoked willow cabinets he didn’t work at all, but by the pickled alder table… there, he’d do.

  8. debra says:

    In the stark,cold light of morning, a dismayed Doug realizes that the curse of male- pattern baldness lives on.

  9. boots says:

    Dad, looks on proudly, as Junior eats his pasta with a Arne Jacobsen spoon in an Alessi bowl.

  10. Michael O'Brien says:

    Lurch’s brother favored the more casual look.

  11. Cathy says:

    Although he felt the kitchen was complete, it was with mixed emotions that Gilbert discovered this final accessory.

  12. Peter McMullen says:

    You’re sitting in my spot….. I want it back…. That means now junior!

  13. Don says:

    As his infant son repeatedly smashed the plastic bottle against the original Bettencourt’s pristine bamboo slab, vainly attempting to retrieve the sweet sticky nourishment that lie within, Ingemar stood by in silence – approvingly idle and unwilling to emend. As an enlightened man, he was simply fascinated by this futile behavior, and reveled in the irony that such a primitive thing might exist in such a modern environment.

  14. Veena says:

    Creation of his Maxi Me complete, little Hayden wondered where he could get frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads.

  15. Peter McMullen says:

    I said don’t… one more ti… that’s it, you just wait till your mother gets home. I’ll make her make you respect me.

  16. rrp says:

    Jason decided, the yellow bowl would have to go.

  17. Mary Ellen Doyle says:

    Nigel found himself drunk, once again, before breakfast was even over and wished, once again, that he had worn a condom.

  18. Susan says:

    Lars knew that if the baby kept eating like that, he would no longer fit in his cubby.

  19. illuminata says:

    For the hundredth time he wondered: if she truly was his soulmate, how could she have bought the yellow bowl?

  20. Tom Hickey says:

    “C’mon, please? Mom’s waiting. And I promise you this is not the only toy at IKEA.”

  21. Susan Zuckerman says:

    “You could have gone to Harvard if I hadn’t invested with Madoff. Now sadly, it’s a state school for you.”

  22. MIke Noon says:

    Despite the muffled screams of his mother tied up in the pantry, baby Corbel was enjoying the sugar coated goodness of the Fruit Loops the caretaker had so often spoken of.

  23. Margie says:

    Gavin hated ‘sunshine yellow’ and it took all his strength not to swipe Oscar’s porridge bowl away, he knew deep down it was the perfect accent to the tangerine boosterseat.

  24. Nancy says:

    Dad, now that I got your full and undivided attention lets talk carpet.

  25. Mandy Hyslop says:

    It had been a mistake to bring this small, chaotic creature into the midst of their carefully ordered lives. It would have to go. At the very least, its accoutrements and accessories would be limited to neutral tones in future.

  26. jennifer gray says:

    Goldilocks did not expect Papa Bear to return home while she was still sitting in his chair AND eating his porridge!

  27. Rick says:

    No, the table is perfect for this room, we’re going to have to change something about … you.

  28. Joni says:

    No matter if you aren’t as tall as the Norwegian kids, I’m not buying you another chair.

  29. Roberta Ferguson says:

    Martin just couldn’t seem to leave IKEA without picking up a little something to take home.

  30. Beth de Anda says:

    After three years of being an unemployed mortgage broker, Jeff was no longer too proud to answer the ad for a baby’s butler.

  31. Tom Meyer says:

    Now he regretted the choice of a sliding door. The child had learned to escape the “Go Away” room whenever he wanted.

  32. Valerie H. says:

    Trevor added the final piece of the design: A real baby.

  33. Peter McMullen says:

    She told him she left dinner waiting at the table and when he walked into the kitchen his heart sank with dismay. Baby? Again?

  34. sue fromm says:

    Go easy on the table , Buddy. Years from now you’ll be saying ” I remember that blogspot with Dad”

  35. Caroline Ramseyer says:

    Jasper wasn’t looking ar his son Guther that morning. Quite frankly he never looked at his son on sunny days. He was simply mezmerized by the way the light filtered through the window and played with the stunning all birch, never a veneer, table. He secretly wish Guther would wear mittens at the table, the oil in the baby-s skin was wreaking havoc on the wood grain. It was heartbreaking.

  36. Terri Werner says:

    Dad…come on – I’ve only had two bowls! Take a load off – have a seat. Lets talk.

  37. Jessica G says:

    Jeremy felt a perverse satisfaction that mixed with his guilt to make him feel alive: the PBA loaded plastic bowl, the gerber non-organic GMO rice cereal…it was all so pedestrian, so urban!

  38. Michelle H says:

    At last weekend’s Greenpoint Barter, Jonas swapped the porkpie hat he had bought at a Berlin flea market in 2003 for a locally sourced lucite wine rack, and his velvet vinyl brush for a Uniqlo Organics sweater for his son.

  39. Christy says:

    “Its almost as if that bowl is more interesting to you than this kick-ass kitchen.”

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