Modern Dens: Pandemic Passion Project

Modern Dens: Pandemic Passion Project

Nov 30, 2022
By S. Benali

June 2020. After a glitch in the matrix, we found ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. That year, our overlords hired a junior dev for Project Terra on Dimension C-137. The doe-eyed graduate was enthusiastic yet slightly disappointed about this placement. C-137 is a relatively young universe, only 13.7 billion years old. The graphics are decent but not extraordinary like the penta-dimensional eye-candy that is Dimension G-48. 

Terra is known for its bloated codebase and weird NPC AI. The freshly assigned dev's first assignment was to clean up the virus table in the organisms database– a simple but excruciatingly boring task (such is the life of a junior). Due to poor naming standards and lack of documentation, the new recruit used the wrong query, allowing COVID to find its way into the homosapien-pathogens() function. A rollback was too costly, so management opted to just let it play out.


A couple of NPCs on Terra were drinking beer and playing video games over the internet (a global network feature that got out of hand really quickly after its integration and was also deemed too costly to fix by C-137's management). This was a common practice among male NPCs– especially when most found themselves trapped in their spawn points due to risk of COVID contagion.


The idea behind Modern Dens (MD) started in the first months of the pandemic quarantine in 2020 (in a galaxy not that far away but a reality that felt just that distant). My 750-square-foot apartment in Pittsburgh was my living space, workspace, and gym. Xbox Live was the bar where I caught up with friends. One evening a good friend of mine (and soon-to-be Co-founder of MD) proposed a website concept during a gaming session. Much like those NPCs, my buddy and I felt we were trapped in our spawn points for far too long. After years of browsing interior design subreddits– and I don’t mean to brag– we’d leveled up our taste for nice living spaces to above average and cultivated an eye for quality furniture.

Over the following weeks (while the overlords were patching the universe build), we earthlings began expanding on the idea and discussed everything from the UI and business prospects to copyright management, and of course, tech stack.

We got to work, splitting the tasks between us. My buddy took over business development, advertising, and content management, and I was in charge of engineering, UI architecture, design, and SEO. We finally registered the LLC after a somewhat heated argument over the domain name. 

Our vision was to create a platform featuring tasteful and beautiful living spaces submitted by real people and curated by us. To make things interesting, we built a tagging system in the UI to describe pieces of furniture and link them to their respective store pages, providing our users with a wide selection of pieces for their own spaces. Placing pieces in an internally coherent context was crucial. We came up with a taxonomy system to organize our content based on interior design styles (e.g Midcentury Modern) as well as invisible categories for each individual furniture item/tag (e.g Black Eames Chair). With that as our foundation, we could render related suggestions for each post, organize our feed in dynamic category pages, and search by furniture name, style, color, etc.

By the time the first vaccine patch was deployed in the universe prod, we posted our first space.


What is Modern Dens?

Modern Dens is a genuine attempt to navigate through the labyrinth of filtered, sponsored, and otherwise artificial content that litters the internet in order to surface real examples of modern living spaces (modern dens if you will) that equally real people can relate to and draw inspiration from. 

Each space we feature is drawn from original content (OC) which the original poster (OP) has generously permitted us to feature on the site. Some OPs request we cite their Instagram/Twitter/Reddit handle, and we honor that. We encourage you to check out their other content. 


What you’ll find: 

We’ll share the location of the space and a brief description. 

We’ll also attempt to identify as much of the furniture/miscellaneous items featured in the post as possible by either linking the exact piece of furniture (as confirmed by OP), or conducting our own research and approximating an item that is similar to the item in the post. 

You can see when we’ve given our best effort to equate an unknown item with a known product when we include an “approximately equal to” sign (~) in the link. Otherwise, assume we have linked the exact product as confirmed by OP. 


Modern Dens is an ongoing passion project that connects users with aspirational spaces designed by normal people (well, those with above-average aesthetics). We continue to nurture and develop MD so that our users can share and create spaces that reflect their personal style. We’ve cultivated an audience of interior design enthusiasts from around the world and aim to continue supporting their creative visions in the best way we can– connecting them with unique inspirational spaces and attainable products that they can bring into their own dens.

Check out Modern Dens!

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