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A Designer’s Guide to the New York Design Center

A Designer’s Guide to the New York Design Center

A Designer’s Guide to the New York Design Center

Designer

Our designer Liz Lipkin rounds up five of her favorite NYDC showrooms. Plus, learn her pointers for navigating the building’s over 33,000 square feet of furnishings and decor.

Are you curious to know where designers shop? Have you ever wished that you had access to trade sources, even if was just to get a peek at something in person? Well, if you live in (or are visiting) New York, you’re in luck. The New York Design Center—a trade building featuring dozens of showrooms—is open to the public year round, and it’s chock full of incredible resources.

I visit NYDC to wander spaces for inspiration (hello, 1stdibs Gallery), to see new collections from favorite vendors, and to check out pieces that I’ve come across online and then traced to a specific showroom. I also meet clients there to share my finds. If our schedules don’t align, I send them on their own, knowing that they’ll be welcome in any showroom, with or without me. The atmosphere throughout the building is friendly and relaxed, so even if you’re not working with a designer, plan a visit.

The roster of tenants in the 16-story building at 200 Lexington runs the gamut from fabric and kitchen cabinet showrooms to rug and outdoor furniture vendors. They’re all worth exploring, but here are a few of my faves to give you a small taste of what’s on offer.

1stdibs Gallery

The entire 10th floor of the building is dedicated to high-end antiques dealers whose names you may recognize if you’re a regular on the 1stdibs website. There are more than 50 curated dealer spaces showcasing everything from lighting to furniture to fine art. With so many historically significant pieces from around the globe, a trip to 1stdibs can feel like a museum visit—but without the crowds. And while some of these antiques may be pricey, the design inspiration here is priceless. Each dealer creates gorgeous vignettes within their space, and you’re free to browse to your heart’s content.

Good to know: If you see something that you can’t live without, or have a question about an item, a small staff is on hand to help and dealers sell directly to the public.

Fair

The focus in this clean, minimal space is on high-end, handcrafted design. It showcases the work of mostly local artisans from Brooklyn and Upstate New York, including lighting designers, furniture designers, and ceramic artists. Pieces here have a timeless and sophisticated quality and each one can be considered a work of art. Fair serves as a permanent extension of Field + Supply, the annual modern makers craft fair organized by designer Brad Ford, and many of the same makers’ work is represented here. The public can make purchases regardless of whether or not they’re working with a designer.

Expect to find: Next level craftsmanship and keen attention to detail.

Circa Lighting

Circa’s showroom seems to feature just about everything from their extensive website collection. But if a fixture that you’re looking for isn’t on view, a helpful salesperson will display a full-scale version of it on a state-of-the-art, floor-to-ceiling, wall-mounted monitor so that you can get a sense of its size. Circa’s overall aesthetic is timeless and sophisticated, with a touch of glam and rustic, too—in other words, there’s something here for everyone. One of my favorite pieces is a retro modern brass reading lamp that works in any setting, from contemporary to traditional. Circa carries indoor and outdoor fixtures from the likes of Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Thomas O’Brien, and Aerin, all of which are available at retail pricing to the public.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to look up! You won’t want to miss the eye-catching chandeliers and pendants.

Kelly Wearstler

If you’re a fan of this designer’s trademark bold and eclectic California luxe style, head straight to this opulent showroom. The space is relatively small, but it packs a punch and features a vibrant collection of furniture, lighting, rugs, wallcoverings, and accessories. Come to experience a taste of Wearstler’s world, and view some of the gorgeous pieces that you’ve seen in the pages of your favorite shelter magazines, but note that unless you’re working with a designer, you won’t be able to make purchases here.

Expect to find: Over-the-top modern glamour.

Aero Studios

The aesthetic here is decidedly more masculine and understated—more East Coast than West Coast. Founded by New York-based designer Thomas O’Brien, Aero brings together the key ingredients of his American modern style: practicality, simplicity, and sincerity. Vintage, traditional, and modern influences can be seen throughout the collection, which includes tableware, art, furniture, and bedding. The warm and inviting showroom is a place to linger, chat with the friendly sales reps, and get lost for a moment in what feels like a lived-in home that perfectly balances rustic and refined. They sell to the public, so you can give in to temptation—just save some of the vintage pieces for me!

Don’t miss: The shearling upholstered chairs and the plush throws and pillows.

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