When it came time to open a brick-and-mortar outpost, the standard-issue gallery didn’t feel right. So, co-founder Robert Wright opted to do what a rare but emerging coterie of brands have embraced: roll out the welcome mat for clients in a place that would typically have one in the first place. An actual home.
In 2018, the then digital-only company got its start by allowing people to fully customize Moroccan rugs. But a few years later, the time had come to expand to a physical location. “We wanted it to feel like you’re coming over to your friend’s apartment….and oh, by the way, on the floor are rugs from our newest collection,” Wright explains. “It was a fun exercise to think: ‘Well, why don’t we come up with an apartment in New York that’s the home of our ideal Beni consumer?’” They imagined everything from this fictitious client’s art collection down to the trinkets brought home from their travels. Thus, their new appointment-only Greenwich Village studio in a circa 1900 brownstone on West 9th Street in Manhattan was born.
Other brands embracing the idea that style begins at home include Casa Perfect, Lee Broom, Gabriel & Guillaume and Galerie Philia (the latter of which opened its latest traveling showroom inside a $10 million Chelsea apartment). “We wanted to show that you can not only live with these historical pieces, but also mix them in a very casual way,” says Guillaume Excoffier, co-founder (with Nancy Gabriel) of Gabriel & Guillaume, which procures everything from Martin Szekely’s 1988 Betty armchairs to a 1950 Italian sofa by Federico Munari.
The gallery, featuring rotating exhibitions, is currently ensconced in an appointment-only, two-story residence at 11 West 57th Street in New York City. “We have created a new kind of retail experience—something more exclusive, something more private— like entering into the apartment of a collector,” Gabriel says.
It’s no surprise then that companies are seeing this model resonate with consumers, as navigating the sometimes-arduous task of making design choices now seems much easier in a familiar setting.