Photography by Michael Sharkey
When Evan Orensten met Josh Rubin, Orensten (far right) was working at Razorfish, the digital-marketing and Web development pioneer that came to epitomize the dot-com era of the late ’90s. Rubin was fresh out of graduate school, looking for a job. “It was that super-cheesy, love-at-first-sight moment,” Rubin says. It took some time for Orensten to read the signals, but one Friday night, when a third wheel at a dinner finally split, the pair “made out for the first time,” Orensten says. “And then, on Saturday night, we had a hookup date, and…” Rubin finishes Orensten’s sentence: “…we spent the whole weekend together.”
The following weekend, Rubin flew to meet Orensten in Paris. Two days became four, and when they came to say au revoir, the two were committed to an exclusive relationship. They sustained a long-distance romance by meeting in a succession of European cities: London, Amsterdam, Stockholm. Rubin was living in San Francisco, where he’d found work, and Orensten was operating out of Razorfish’s Hamburg office. Traveling together was a good test of their relationship. “It’s a very fast track for getting to know someone and figuring out if you want to spend more time with him,” says Orensten.
Another great test? Working together. In 2003, when the two were also collaborating as consultants for other digital start-ups, Rubin and Orensten launched the site Cool Hunting, primarily as a place for Rubin to catalog his enthusiasm for design and technology. Five years ago, they moved into an office in the Flatiron district of Manhattan to focus full-time on Cool Hunting and their associated creative marketing business, Largetail. They had three staff members. Today they have 35, and the office is jammed with young editors clattering away on Macs (there are also the couple’s two Sealyham terriers, Otis and Logan). On any given day, fans of Cool Hunting might find themselves reading about a watch by Van Cleef & Arpels that doubles as a planetary calendar, or a Kenyan sanctuary where one starts the day with a kiss from a giraffe.
“It’s amazing to us how everything happens on a global level,” says Orensten. “If you’re interested in food or photography, whatever’s happening in one part of the world informs another — and it happens almost instantaneously. We just want to be on top of that.”