Like most retail-rich districts across the globe, Manhattan’s Soho and Tribeca neighborhoods were hit hard by the pandemic, prompting the closure of many retailers and a quick pivot to the digital marketplace. This transition was particularly difficult for design showrooms, whose ultra-custom products, often considerable investments in and of themselves, require far more attention to detail than can be gleaned from a web-resolution image viewed on a smartphone. Fortunately, energy seems to have returned to downtown, as a slew of new design showrooms have cropped up alongside stalwarts that weathered the storm. We checked in with five global brands that recently debuted storefronts to hear why Soho and Tribeca felt like the right fit and what they hope to achieve in these gorgeously designed outposts.
SAH Why locate your New York flagship in Soho over the showroom-rich neighborhoods of Nomad/Flatiron and Midtown?
Knud Erik Hansen, CEO, Carl Hansen & Søn The neighborhood has a diversity of offerings, from small restaurants to fashion shops, fostering young artists and a positive atmosphere that I think that our customers agree with and therefore love to visit in their after hours; I don’t think that I have ever visited New York without going to Soho at least once. You come to Soho for leisure—to enjoy either a good meal, the company of your friends, or just to get inspired. In Soho you can relax and take in the smaller, highly specialized shops, like ours.
SAH In what ways do these two neighborhoods—Soho and Tribeca—provide your brand opportunities to interact with other creative industries?
Andrew Yang, U.S. managing director, Stellar Works Tribeca was ideal in so many ways. It is adjacent to Soho and the neighborhood’s many architecture and design firms, showrooms, and museums and galleries. In the last year alone, dozens of galleries have opened just blocks away. Soho is pleasantly commercial, so to have our showroom literally on the border of art and commerce feels right to us. Plus, the proximity to Chinatown also speaks to Stellar Works’ Asian roots.
Mel Saenz, VP, relationship management, Juniper There is an interesting mix between fashion, design, food, and art in Soho. Downtown has a neighborhood feel you just can’t emulate in most other NYC districts. Soho residents and businesses have something of an open-door policy with each other. This helps in a lot of ways, not least of all when it comes to collaborating on a creative level.
SAH What are your brands’ aspirations moving into this “post-pandemic” landscape?
Bernd Radaschitz, CEO, Lanserring Our bespoke products must be touched, interacted with, and experienced to be fully appreciated, so we hope that our new second home [in Soho] will become a destination for our friends, colleagues, and clients in the city.
Marcia Speer, president, Poggenpohl U.S. NYC is resilient, and it was only a matter of time before the city was back. We look forward to a year with a full calendar of showroom events especially targeting the architect and designer community. We offer a unique culinary experience with a live cooktop in the +MODO kitchen located in the center of the studio, where we plan to invite chefs for cooking demos during showroom events throughout the year.
Mel Saenz, VP, relationship management, Juniper We hope to provide inspiration to our clients by showcasing our lighting in a more experiential way. We would like our clients to feel comfortable reintegrating back into a routine of sourcing and interacting physically with products and people in a more relaxed, low-pressure environment.