A Q&A With Craigslist’s Best Rummager

After countless hours spent perusing the furniture-for-sale pages of Craigslist as her personal form of procrastination, writer Nadja Spiegelman resolved to make a project out of her habit. She created Curated Craigslist on Monday afternoon; since then, she estimates that three or four thousand people have visited the site. She’s an ideal sifter, and has mercifully organized the site by New York City neighborhood.

While Spiegelman is currently living in Paris, she said she still hunts Craigslist for items in her old neighborhood, just to see what’s going on. We talked on the phone about procrastination, props, and Craigslist as inspiration.

What prompted this project?

I’m trying to write a book, and looking at Craigslist is how I procrastinate — looking at furniture on Craigslist even though I can’t possibly fit any more in my apartment.

How has it affected your procrastination?

It’s terrible. I got Google Analytics installed, and all this data is so addictive. I have a really hard time shutting my computer off and getting work done. When there’s that kind of validation to my procrastination, it makes it very difficult.

When did you start to develop an interest in furniture?

I think an interesting thing happens when you hit 22, 23, 24, 25. This whole other world of stuff you can desire opens up, and you’re suddenly really interested in cute oven mitts and rugs — but this happens when you don’t have a lot of money, and these things are shockingly expensive.

Do you have an aesthetic? It seems very eclectic.

Personally, I like mid-century modern furniture and industrial-looking furniture and older furniture. I posted a mid-century modern table that has the face of a clock in it, and it’s a working clock.

My apartment looks like a prop den; there is nowhere to sit where you’re not looking at something weird. We have a taxidermied, two-headed calf, a giant half-moon mural of a Greek goddess, a going-out-of-business Blockbuster [poster] of Whoopi Goldberg’s face.

As a kid, did you always like decorating your rooms?

My parents are artists so I grew up with a lot of really beautiful things to look at. I always tried to collect things … I tried key chains. My little brother collected used Metro Cards, he ended up collecting thousands because they’re so easy to find. They all look the same. They’re so dirty.

The interest in furniture and design and places came part out of hitting 23 or 24 and creating a home for myself.

What’s your favorite furniture you bought?

I think when I was 14, I saved up all my money to buy myself one of those papasan chairs — those big wicker bowls in the stand — and I haven’t been able to part with it since, even though it’s objectively really ugly and uncomfortable to sit in. It’s a bit of Stockholm syndrome when you sit in [it]; you decide you must be comfortable because it’s such an effort to get up. But in terms of furniture I would actually be proud of now, I found this old movie-theater bench on the street. It’s the kind where two chairs are attached, and they are shockingly comfortable and also really beautiful, and they were free!

Besides furniture, are you interested in Craigslist or other Craigslist aggregation websites — like Craigslist Mirrors?

Oh, I love that, it’s such a beautiful site. Yes, I love Craigslist. I think it’s an amazing reflection of New York itself, and there’s a little bit of everything on it. There are really crazy things and you’re constantly surprised. I found this dresser with hand-written motivational slogans on it, but didn’t post it. Things like that are really delightful, even the little bits of people’s homes you can see. It’s so voyeuristic.

A Q&A With Craigslist’s Best Rummager