February 20, 2019

Here’s What the New 1stdibs Gallery in New York City Means for Designers

The Aero stall at 1stdibs gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Photography courtesy of 1stdibs.

Design enthusiasts braved last week’s icy weather conditions to celebrate the 1stdibs gallery opening near Manhattan’s Hudson Yards development. The opening fête saw over 600 guests, including the likes of Lora Appleton, Alexandre Assouline, Shantell Martin, and S. Russell Groves, come together to celebrate the design mainstay’s permanent New York space. With the dust settled from the brand’s buzzy opening bash, New York’s design community may be wondering what 1stdibs’ expanded presence in the city means. 

While the gallery isn’t 1stdibs’ first brick-and-mortar space in Manhattan—the brand previously occupied one floor at the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue—it’s larger and much more ambitious than its predecessor. The space was designed by New York-based architecture firm Davies Toews and spans the better part of a city block on a floor in the Terminal Stores warehouse building north of Chelsea. Over 50 vendors are represented with a mix of antique and contemporary wares that range from fine art to furniture, lighting, and decorative objects. 

A mix of fine art, furniture, and antiques at the 1stdibs gallery. Photography courtesy of 1stdibs.

Where 1stdibs diverges from the conventional showroom experience is in the curatorial emphasis on design perspectives from outside of the New York-metro area. “Over 50 percent of the exhibitors in the space are from outside of the New York City area,” 1stdibs Chief Commercial Officer Cristina Miller told Interior Design. With an eclectic mix of fine art from Texas, antiques from the Midwest, and Italian contemporary furniture, the space provides a welcome break from the echo chamber of design perspectives that can develop in the city. The initiative to feature geographic diversity in the gallery also provides an opportunity for vendors who might not otherwise have the capability to staff and maintain a showroom space in Manhattan.

In addition to its mix of truly unique inventory, the gallery boasts several micro-exhibitions by major players in the design industry. A custom exhibit of lighting by Michael Anastassiades for Flos illuminates the west wing of the gallery, while an arabesque of modern and classical busts curated by design studio The Archers gives visitors a reason to pause for contemplation. The space also features meeting areas for designers to de-brief clients, and a smartphone-integrated QR code purchasing platform that allows designers, clients, or even everyday design enthusiasts to purchase any item in the gallery in moments. It’s safe to say 1stdibs might just be re-positioning the city’s design headquarters to its Chelsea gallery.

“Arrangements by Michael Anastassiades,” a custom designed lighting installation presented by Flos. Photography courtesy of 1stdibs.

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