Who fell in love with this 19th century Federal-style home that was, for the most part, falling apart? John Derian of course. I receive Cultured Magazine and there as a great bit by Mieke Ten Have from last summer... (here) that tells the story....
“Sometimes I get these building crushes,” says John Derian of the row of early 19th-century whitewashed buildings on Christopher Street in the West Village, where he opened an outpost of his East Village design mecca earlier this year. Derian—who started out as a purveyor of glossy decoupage accessories with a charming, if not slightly off kilter, 19th-century spirit—has become the go-to for handmade goods for the home with a romantic touch and a vintage quality.
“Retail is weird. Traffic is down, staffing is hard, but still, I thought, OK, this is meant to be,” he says, describing the space—which he had his eye on for years—as a kind of “divey old pet shop.” With a seashell-embedded fireplace in the back and rear garden, it reminded Derian of his home in Provincetown, while the front he found reminiscent of Astier de Villatte, the cult ceramics atelier in Paris with whom Derian often collaborates.
Derian is a brick-and-mortar bulwark in a retail landscape that shifts as quickly and ominously as quicksand. Since opening the East Village location in 1995, the shop has expanded, as have the makers and categories Derian sells. Whether it be lush and tactile paper flowers by Livia Cetti, whimsical drawings by Hugo Guinness or folkloric silk scarves by Nathalie Lété, Derian has a knack for finding and representing designers that interiors aesthetes fall in love with and glossy magazine editors rapturously cover.
“I have said in the past that I like looking at things. I like that sort of curiosity, and I think we need it in a way. It is an experience going through these handmade, textural things,” he says. “My shop is a destination.”
And that is the ethos of his brand: a store for people who know about it and understand it. His West Village outlet is a continuation of that theme. With 18th-century wainscoting, walls boast a “cracked, peeling patina,” achieved by using three kinds of varnish. A back room has densely patterned floral wallpaper from a collection Derian recently launched with Designers Guild. He also had custom shelving made for the austerely luxurious, milky-white glazed black terracotta Astier de Villatte collections he sells. “There is a sense of history, of authenticity, in this place,” he says.
While Derian is instinctually inclined towards past eras, he’s not in denial of contemporary demands either. “I relaunched my website a month ago; it looks great,” he says. “I had to work with people who understand it because I wasn’t sure how… how do you create a tactile place online?”
In spite of the less-than-rosy Manhattan retail outlook, Derian is optimistic about his new neighborhood. “Feedback has been positive,” he explains, recalling several recent remarks from long-time residents. “They tell me ‘all the shops used to look like this one, and now there are no more.’”
His new place on the West Side (18 Christopher Street) is filled with everything I love and when Kate and I made our way over there on our last day in NY, it took everything I had not to scoop up another big stash. I really hate shopping on line when it comes to accessories. I love to touch and feel and if a showroom is this gorgeous I will create a morning around it. I love to soak up the entire vibe.
This tiny, 500 square foot space is packed to the brim with accessory heaven and I am a bit of a collector. On each trip to the city I wander in and no doubt leave with something.
I have had my eye on these and wanted to see in person. Loved. Who else loved, my girl Lauren. Picked two, couldn't resist.
When looking to style up a kitchen, dining .. or just about any surfaces you won't leave empty handed.
Another reason for the visit was to see his new wall paper line with Designers Guild. I carry that line and was curious ...
John's new line through Designers Guild is so pretty and seeing in person inside his beautiful space made it even more so. While I can order a sample or get a book, being in the room filled with these textiles it seriously get my wheels turning.
photos (except for a few.... by Stephen Kent Johnson)
Thanks John for a lovely morning !