What They Bought
Fair Folks & a Goat

At Fair Folks & a Goat, a new retail gallery and tea salon hybrid on New York’s Upper East Side, everything inside the gracious late 19th-century studio apartment is for sale. Well, almost everything — a small candy dish that reads “When I count my blessings, I count you twice” was a gift from co-owner Anthony Mazzei’s mother and “it’s a million dollars,” he jokes, while the vintage paperbacks lining a wall of shelves constitute an actual lending library. Here, the props and merch blend into a seamless backdrop for a new kind of social gathering. “We wanted to create a space for young people to have a home away from home, where instead of alcohol and loud music it would be more like a physical incarnation of a magazine, with design, art, fashion, and culture,” says Mazzei of his partnership with co-owner and creative director Aurora Stokowski.

The space is open during the late afternoon and evening on Saturday and Sunday by appointment only, and since it launched in November, the crowds have begun to swell. When guests arrive, they’re offered first tea, then cake, then jewelry on rolling carts (also for sale); Mazzei jokingly calls it “dim-sum retail.” But the terrific thing about Fair Folks & a Goat is that you don’t feel like you’re being sold a thing. It’s more like two incredibly stylish friends have invited you over to share their latest finds.

Mazzei, a former financier, and Stokowski, who studied studio art and was a jewelry buyer at the MoMA Design Store, met last summer and instantly clicked, but the hard part was figuring out where to host the thing. “Anthony was actually living in this space, but his landlords encouraged him to use it for the shop because it’s so perfect — an aspirational environment you’re not normally allowed access to,” says Stokowski. Once Mazzei had moved to an empty apartment upstairs, they assembled the offerings with the help of a few curation teams. The Future Perfect offered wares like Kiel Mead’s Birdie Lights and Jaime Hayon’s Showtime sofa on consignment, while the art was mostly chosen by independent consultant Amy Sande-Friedman, who culled the brightest stars from New York’s emerging scene.

The two recently closed on a house near the French Quarter in New Orleans; the goal there is to have artists build out the space and to offer 24/7 access in exchange for a small membership fee. On their way out of town to try and fix up their new property before that city’s Jazz Fest, Mazzei and Stokowski gave us a tour of the New York townhouse space and an introduction to the works inside.

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In a room with a bright orange Verner Panton chair and a $10,000 couch by Jaime Hayon — not to mention incredible moldings — Nora Rabins’s found theater seat with massive steel wings (a wing chair, get it?) steals the show. “We love her work because it’s so interactive, and she changes the way you would normally use things,” says Stokowski of the Providence, Rhode Island–based RISD grad. “The wings literally fold up around you. Everyone wants to sit in it.”

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The aforementioned Panton chair from Vitra. Rabins also designed the cake-like metal sculptures shown at right, as well as a laptop stand and a school desk that sit in the corner.

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Fair Folks sources its vintage frocks and accessories from Archive Vintage in Dallas, whose owner, Kerry Bonnell, used to work with Stokowski at the beloved New York boutique Resurrection before shipping off to Texas a few years back.

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“They send us some great pieces, and a lot of it is designer,” says Stokowski. (When we visited, a pristine no-label beaded clutch was selling for only $36, though it was quickly snatched up by this vintage-obsessed writer.) In the bottom drawer are leggings and t-shirts specially designed for Fair Folks & a Goat and emblazoned with the gallery’s reptilian logo.

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Tokyo-born Ari Tabei makes voluminous gowns from fabric scraps, latex, felt, flour, tissue paper, newspaper, and shrinkwrap; last night, she performed at the Fair Folks space wearing a 50-pound kimono. “Her work is definitely going to be shown either at the Met Costume Institute or the Museum of Arts & Design one day,” Mazzei predicts. “She’s the real deal.”

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In keeping with the interactive theme, these die-cut corrugated cardboard centerpieces by Swiss-born, New York–based duo Kueng Caputo arrive as a flat sheet and can be punched out and assembled to create creatures and fauna for the table.

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Sande-Friedman brought in these colorful canvases by Brent Ridge, a Flint, Michigan–born, New York–based artist who uses images of industry and manufacturing processes in his work. “It has a simplicity and bold color that speaks to the other pieces in the space — it’s a nice contrast to some of the more delicate artwork we have,” says Stokowski.

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Of the Brooklyn-based Ashley Lamb, who creates multimedia collages in detritus, oil paint, and found wood, Mazzei says: “It’s funny. There’s a conversation between all of the pieces because the room is so small. They happen to pick up on the colors of an old chaise lounge that belonged to my mother.” “Even though she uses rustic elements, the quality of her hand is beautiful," adds Stokowski.

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Seed and cellular drawings by Eliza Stamps, a New York–based artist who says: “I make art like a mathematician or scientist, striving to unravel perplexing scenarios through careful consideration, thoughtful manipulation, and happy accidents.” “She makes her own frames as well, and the small framed works cost $250,” says Stokowski. “Pretty amazing for a framed piece of original artwork.”

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Mazzei, Stokowski, and Sande-Friedman found the artist Jito Lee on a scouting trip to Brooklyn’s 3rd Ward artists’ center. “His background is in set design, and he creates every element of the image,” says Stokowski. “He does the makeup, he’ll do the nails, he painted the backdrop — so it becomes something more than a photograph.”

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Jewelry by Toujours Toi, a line by Brooklyn-based Swiss designer Nina Egli, who also runs the clothing label Family Affairs with her mother. Stokowski had been following Egli’s fashion inspiration blog for some time and used the store as an excuse to get in touch. “Costume jewelry, but done in a young and sweet way,” she says.

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“It looks like they’re staring into the abyss, but it’s actually downtown Manhattan,” says Mazzei of this digitally manipulated photograph of the Staten Island Ferry by Brooklyn photographer Chris Mackenzie. “We also found him at 3rd Ward, and Anthony, Amy, and I loved the richness of all that black. You get this real sense of emotion from just the little bits of light,” says Stokowski.

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“In the Mackenzie photographs, you get this sense of the stillness, almost as if you can hear people’s thoughts," says Stokowski. "Tod Seelie’s photographs make you feel almost the same way, but there aren't any people, just a very still landscape.”

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For an appointment, email thegoat@fairfolksandagoat.com.