Retail in High Definition
AT MOST HIGH-END FASHION BOUTIQUES, the clothes and accessories take center stage, and the furnishings play a supporting, if not utilitarian, role. But inside the Webster—the luxury retailer’s new outpost in Manhattan’s SoHo—you’ll find the design and art on par with the dresses and duds on display: two Milo Baughman swivel chairs commingle with racks of skirts and blouses; a Gaetano Pesce resin piece hangs on the wall facing shelves of shoes and bags on the ground floor.
The Miami–based concept store—which has expanded to five locations in the US—is the brainchild of founder Laure Hériard Dubreuil, who decided to open up her latest iteration after stumbling on a derelict late nineteenth-century building on Greene Street in 2013. While some might have been daunted by its dilapidated state, Dubreuil had a vision in mind and persevered, obtaining permissions from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to renovate the cast-iron edifice. Some five years later and four stories higher, the 12,000-square-foot structure has undergone an impressive transformation, with the help of Chris Osvai of Osvai Architectural Consulting and Design.
The end result is an inviting, light-filled interior, rife with art deco touches inspired by the Empire State Building and Miami Beach—such as the pink-and-black terrazzo floors that were reinterpreted from the original Miami boutique housed in the former Webster Hotel. Contemporary and mid-century furniture works in tandem, with newly commissioned pieces from the likes of Nada Debs and Betil Dagdelen mixed with a Gio Ponti tiled table, Vladimir Kagan couches, and Pierre Paulin chairs originally designed for the Air France Concorde lounge, among others.
Inside and out, the building is a respectful nod to the fabric and spirit of the neighborhood, with carefully restored architectural details and even the inclusion of works by local artists, such as a video installation by SoHo artist Maxi Cohen. Sprinkled throughout the six floors are pieces by acclaimed artists, including Guy Bourdain, Enoc Perez, László Moholy-Nagy, and Nate Lowman. And if you make it up to the penthouse deck, you’ll find Dubreuil’s husband Aaron Young’s sculpture Locals Only NYC, which was featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial—a “tongue-in-cheek” gesture Dubreuil says, given its placement on a VIP terrace.
But even if you can’t get access to the penthouse, you’ll find one of the most enticing pieces on the ground floor: Pesce’s large wood and resin cabinet exclusively commissioned for the Webster, that with its pink exterior, looks like a cartoon human face come to life. thewebster.us