Coming Soon is the design shop most cities only wish they had. The downtown New York boutique, founded by former art gallerists Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet, opened in 2013 in an area that’s since become a nexus of cool, thanks to neighbors like Dimes, Project no 8, Mission Chinese, and Fung Tu. The plant-filled shop hosts occasional exhibitions and carries a pitch-perfect mix of vintage finds (we still lament the selling-out of these amazing chairs) and design’s most-wanted giftables (think exclusive CHIAOZZA lump nubbins, Fredericks & Mae tinsel tassels, and Bower cheese boards). And it does so in a space that’s constantly changing but somehow always exactly what you need.
What we didn’t know when we first met Barquet and Faria is that the two have an ad-hoc, not-quite-professional interior design business on the side, which makes sense the minute you step into their store. “One of the best compliments we got when the shop first opened was, ‘It’s like your best friends’ cool apartment,” says Barquet. “And we were like, yeah! We’ll take that!” The two like to think of themselves as stylists more than interior designers, able to source that just-right thing you need for the last room in your home. But for their friend Xavier Guardans, a photographer who lives in a recently renovated, three-floor firehouse in Brooklyn, they went one step further, selecting items from top to bottom from their own store or on scouting trips, everything from a vintage ’70s Italian chair to a doctored-up Chinatown stool to a marble Chen & Kai magazine rack. On the sweatiest day of last summer, we went with our photographer Michael Muller to scope it out.
“I was so dim,” says Greg Krum. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and Krum, best known around New York as retail director of the wonderfully quirky Shop at Cooper-Hewitt, is puttering around the sun-drenched kitchen of a renovated 1890s townhouse he shares with two roommates in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He’s trying to recall the origins of his other career: that of a photographer about to mount his first solo show this May at New York’s Jen Bekman gallery. “Growing up, I was always attracted to making art, but I didn’t think I could do it because I couldn’t draw. I was like, ‘Okay. That’s out.’ Then I finally realized it’s not about that. It’s about living a life of ideas.”
It would be easy to assume a lot about The Tent Shop, a new online store run by the Vancouver-based artist Jacob Gleeson — namely, that it might be in the business of selling tents. Or, with its deadpan write-ups and roster of vintage ephemera, amateur art, and back-catalog pieces by artist friends, that the shop might be some Canadian version of Partners & Spade, and Gleeson a hyper-aware collector engaging in an art-world prank, à la Claes Oldenburg’s The Store (1961). In fact, neither is quite true. The shop’s name stems from its planned incarnation in the physical world: Gleeson intends to purchase a heavy-duty canvas tent in which he can randomly host events around Vancouver. And as for Gleeson, though he did a stint at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art + Design, he tends to view his new venture through the lens of an anthropologist more so than an artist or even a shopkeeper. “I started with the intention of showing these things together as much as wanting to sell them,” he says. “I’m drawn to the individual objects but something about putting them next to each other makes them even more interesting to me, which is why I leave things up on the site even after they’ve sold. The record of an object’s existence has as much value to me as the object itself.”
We've had a special place in our hearts for Spanish design for as long as we can remember. After all, the very first scouting trip we ever took for Sight Unseen, way back in the summer of 2009, was to sunny Barcelona. (Don't even get us started on Design in Spain, the last full issue Monica and I worked on at I.D. Magazine, and one of our personal favorites, period.) So when the Spanish trade commission in New York asked us earlier this spring if we'd be interested in curating a selection of our favorite recent Spanish designs for Sight Unseen OFFSITE, the answer was an unequivocal yes. In the end, we chose 17 items that seemed classically Spanish, ranging as they did from sweet to silly, elegant to experimental and mixing classic materials like copper and wood with those never before used in design (melted gummy bear paint wash, anyone?) Once the designs had been selected, the emerging Barcelona studio Mermelada set about designing the exhibition (now called Sight Unseen x Mermelada Estudio ♥ Spanish Design) and styling the items. Read all about the works on display here, then check out Interiors From Spain for even more information about the participating designers.