Design studio opening goes to the dogs

The Island Now

The home design retailer Design Within Reach has come to  Manhasset, and to celebrate it joined forces with Port Washington-based North Shore Animal League for the July 20 grand opening.

 John Edelman, the company’s chief executive, is trying to shake the myth that the modern aesthetic isn’t warm, and he said that dogs and a good cause would help  that effort.

“Parties are nice, but I think parties with a purpose are nicer,” Edelman said. “What’s better than modern furniture and puppies?”

In addition to Manhasset design enthusiasts, rescue dogs from the no-kill animal shelter were present and available for adoption. Some guests couldn’t resist adopting a dog, Edelman said.

In keeping with the canine theme, the space showcased pictures shot by an animal photography group, the Dogist, which featured the rescue dogs posed on furniture.

“How can you not like a piece of furniture with a dog on it?” Edelman said.

The company just opened a studio at 1900 Northern Boulevard, and it offers modern furniture within reach of the home design customer. What used to be done by contacting various dealers, Design Within Reach offers in one place, Edelman said.

“We’re the world leader in authentic modern design,” Edelman said. “When the company was founded you couldn’t find half the products we sell.”

Edelman made a distinction between modern and contemporary design. Modern is classic and timeless, he said, not just for today. Contemporary design suggests a temporary look, drawing influences from current fads.

“For me modern is forever,”  Edelman said. “Modern design has no ego. It’s designed to be completely functional, aesthetically beautiful, and with no excesses.”

Design Within Reach has a catalog which includes current top designers in the world of modern furnishings, as well influential creators from the past, like Eero Saarinen, and Charles and Ray Eames.

“We’re always looking for the next modern item, and they are few and far between,” Edelman said. “We reject 95 percent of what we see. We look for that diamond in the rough, and something that can stand the test of time. Design for the sake of design is not very modern.”

When Edelman came on board as chief executive of Design Within Reach in 2010, the company had more locations worldwide, one of which was in Roslyn. Edelman downsized, closing locations that weren’t performing well, including the Roslyn studio. He said many of the locations were opened in entertainment districts, which didn’t make sense for business, and he aimed to strategically place new stores in areas suited for the design studio.

The new branch is now one of 30 locations, situated next to an Apple store on Northern Boulevard, across  from Americana Manhasset.

Edelman said he opened the new studio because Manhasset residents know what they want as consumers, and he wanted to offer them a local option.

“A consumer in Manhasset doesn’t necessarily want to go to the city to get what they want,” Edelman said. “We’ve been so city-centric, and we don’t want to ignore that clientele.”

The company is focused on educating customers instead of just pushing products, Edelman said. The Manhasset studio provides free home visits and design services, including 3-D mockups to show how a piece of furniture can fit in a customer’s home space.

“Our job is to not sell, but ask questions so we can understand the need of the client,” Edelman said. 

To further teach its customer base, the studio offers monthly “design days,” where professionals lead courses on various design topics. This month had classes on designing with flowers, room planning and different ways to set a table.

“There’s nobody similar to us,” Edelman said. “There’s no one else that sells authentic modern, and no one can give the experience we give — people that care about your needs more than selling you something.”

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by Chris Adams

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