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.
Once or twice a year, Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach gets out his straw hat and bandana, ties on a pair of crappy old sneakers, drags out his huge canvas tote, and drives up to Massachussetts, where dealers from all over the Northeast gather every spring, summer, and fall for the Brimfield Antique Show.
Ji Lee is an artist, a graphic designer, an illustrator, a teacher, and a full-time creative director at Google’s advertising unit The Creative Lab, but he’s probably best known as “the guy with the bubbles.” In 2002, bored by an ad gig, the Korean-born, São Paulo–bred designer launched a public art intervention on the city of New York, slapping blank cartoon speech bubbles next to the actors and models in ads and movie posters around town and waiting for passersby to fill them in. So how might a guy who's a master at transforming public space decorate his own home? We decided to find out.
This story was originally published on November 3, 2009. A year and a half later, Dror Benshetrit unveiled at the New Museum a simple, scalable structural joint system called QuaDror, which just may turn out to be his magnum opus. It takes obvious inspiration from the kinds of toys he shared with Sight Unseen here. // Some furniture expands if you’re having extra dinner guests, or folds if you’re schlepping it to a picnic. But most of it just sits there, content to be rather than do. This drives New York–based designer Dror Benshetrit crazy. “Static freaks me out,” he’s said, and so the Design Academy Eindhoven graduate has spent the entirety of his young career making things that either capture a state of transformation (his progressively shattered series of vases for Rosenthal) or actually transform themselves (the Pick Chair and Folding Sofa that flatten using simple mechanics). When I first saw Dror’s latest project, a trivet for Alessi whose concentric metal arcs are magnetized so they can be reconfigured endlessly — and even, the designer enthusiasticaly suggests, worn as a necklace — I thought: If he can’t even let a trivet sit still then his fascination with movement must be more than a design philosophy, it’s probably coded in his DNA. I was right. Dror has been obsessed with kinetic toys since he was a child.