Homepolish designer (and Rebecca Atwood fan) Gunnar Larson checks out the textiles designer’s new space and explores how she considered the needs of designers like him has she created the space.
Photos by Christian Torres
For, it’s hard not to be drawn into Rebecca Atwood’s designs. The beloved Brooklyn textile designer and artist has amassed a dedicated fan base for her incredible hand-drawn patterns (she even wrote the book on the subject, Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home).
“Her patterns are so organic and fluid,” Gunnar explains. “She really balances this mix of American heritage meets Japanese traditionalism that I can’t resist.”
And so little touches from the designer end up in many of his spaces—her black-and-white dash pattern on an upholstered Mid-Century chair, a wavy blue on the bed here. With that respect in mind, we sent Gunnar to check out Rebecca’s just-opened Soho store.
The store was something Rebecca had thought about for a bit, but came together by kismet.
“It was something that I was thinking about in our long-term plan, for sure,” Rebecca explains. “The founder of St. Frank was having dinner in my yard one night, and they were doing a pop-up on this block and recommended the space for a pop-up for us. In my mind, I thought ‘Oh if we’re doing it, we’re going all the way. If we’re making a space we want it to be an actual environment, not just white walls where we put up some shelves with our product.’ But this was such a great space. It needed a lot of love, but I adored that the shape was more of a rectangle, and the block is such a great block. I knew this was either going to be easy and work and be something we should do, or it wasn’t.”
A few months later it did. Within two months the lease was signed, and two months later the store was open.
“We really did need all that time,” Rebecca laughs. “The walls were a bright magenta with oil paint, sort of the texture of an orange rind. The lighting left a lot to be desired—black track lighting, no recessed. It was dark back here.”
Rebecca called in a designer friend from her RSDI days, Kate Hamilton Gray to conceive the space while another pal, artist and carpenter Eric Gonzalez create the custom accents. Custom is the key word since the store is short on storage.
“We don’t have a stock room, so we had to figure out how are we going to best use the space, how we could open the area and show everything we wanted to show,” Rebecca explains. “We want the space to feel calm, which when you have pattern can be contradictory.”
For the Atwood team that meant balancing the space’s incredibly details with an airy palette and modern choices. The building was originally an 1800s carriage house, complete with original beams and columns. An exaggerated, modernist arch storage piece calls back to the period, but offers practical adjustable shelves. A bold, leafy, light fixture from Rosie Li makes a statement that feels both glamorous and organic. A light maple wood table contrasts the vintage and antique pieces dotted around the space. All of those mixed materials are meant to imbue the store with a feel that does more than just prompt customers (and fellow designers) to buy.
“Our goal is to inspire our customer—it’s not really just the product we offer,” Rebecca explains. “When we were thinking about the space we thought about having certain areas that more retail-friendly versus designer-friendly. That pillow wall is very much for regular consumers, but the table is less styled so designers can come actually work there. The fabrics on display and all of our patterns are here for people to go through. Each zone within the space is meant to make shopping easier.”
Not only is shopping a breeze, but now so is channeling her enviable style.
“There’s something to be said about how she has tweaked that Cape Cod guest house-style into something that feels both traditional but not like your mother’s house,” Gunnar explains. “Everything’s so well done and executed, but it feels a little fresh and new, so it feels like it’s for you.”
And that’s a feeling Rebecca hopes to keep alive. She’s already found herself making adjustments to new designs and the assortment since talking to customers.
“It’s been really awesome to get to see everything in a space where we are styling it and pulling that vision to life so it’s not just a photo, but an experience people can walk into,” she explains. “It’s going be so nice to change the store out, I’m already thinking about what color to paint the wall for the fall.”