In the past five years, a critical mass of home-design stores has settled amid the loading docks, security gates, and metal canopies of TriBeCa. Some are new to the neighborhood, others are recent expansions of the studios of artists who first colonized the area two decades ago. All are within a few blocks, and unlike "to the trade" showrooms, they are open to weekend strollers and design divas alike. Whether your tastes lean toward the perfectly period, the vaguely retro, or the stridently modern, it's easy to lose a few hours shopping and browsing here.
428 Greenwich Street (212-343-7967)
This raw loft space was originally a warehouse, then a theater space, then an artist's studio. Now it's sculptor Stephen Whisler's shop, filled with his signature whimsy: a maple medicine cabinet with a cutout of a hand with a bandaged finger ($680), and playful folding screens with cutout shapes and numbers ($3,000).
J. Mabley Fabric Co.
39 N. Moore Street (212-966-5464)
Looking like reams of ribbon candy, meringue, and spun sugar, the fabrics at Jennifer Mabley's shop come in 100 different patterns and up to 75 colors. They can be combined for custom upholstery or done up as drapes. At 54 inches wide, silks start at $28 per yard, velvets at $40, and linens at $30. Mabley often collaborates with her neighbor Kevin Hart, covering his custom designs.
143 Franklin Street (212-431-4646)
Co-owner Gil Shapiro started in 1978 by selling architectural salvage found in old buildings slated for demolition. He now employs 80 workers to make extravagant copies of lights and fixtures from U.A.-owned originals. Shapiro's current offerings include an antique copper American factory clock from the twenties ($850) and turn-of-the-century mahogany office chairs ($375). You can also take home the original iron statues from the Place de la Concorde fountain in Paris (they were replaced in 1929 as part of France's version of the WPA), a relative bargain at $1 million.
180 Franklin Street (212-334-6197)
Patrick Marchand's tiny shop resembles the movie set for Jacques Tati's film Mon Oncle: sort of French-fifties-family-gone-wild. Settle into a pair of cobalt-blue, triangular foam chairs ($6,000). For above the chairs, consider oblong tube lights in orange, blue, or white glass ($2,000).
The Orange Chicken
152 Franklin Street (212-431-0337)
It may sound like a Chinese takeout joint, but beyond the turquoise façade is a boutique filled with decorative objets, from Venetian-glass and one-of-a-kind Donald Joint mosaic tables (starting at $1,200) to Zsolnay's iridescent glazed tiles ($40). The house specialty is vintage-fabric pillows in polka dots, stripes, and fleur-de-lis, ranging from $100 to $2,600.
104 Franklin Street (212-343-0471)
This shop, in choreographer Twyla Tharp's old dance space, focuses on twentieth-century Scandinavian furniture and ceramics. Highlights are a collection of tables, including a 52-inch diameter Josef Frank beech table inlaid with ebony ($14,000), and vintage Berndt Friberg "hare's fur" glazed ceramics in colors like orange and celestial blue; prices for a Friberg vase begin at $450 and run to $3,000.
71 Franklin Street (212-925-5506)
Youth reigns eternal at this upbeat contemporary-furniture store. Lounge on a David Hockney-designed flannel sofa ($10,000), or perch on frosted glass bar stools ($424). Among their newest offerings are table lamps called Genesi. Made from a plastic formerly reserved for crude-oil filters, they are beautiful sunbursts of yellow, orange, or red (small $85, large $145). On your way out, sign the mailing list to get on the Totem party roster.
39 N. Moore Street (212-343-8964)
The tables, chairs, mirrors, and jewelry boxes here are covered with mosaics made from chips of antique dishes like Limoges and Wedgwood. A wooden side table with a tiled top goes for $150; a similar-size end table with bent metal legs and a hand-cut mosaic can run you $3,000. If you don't see what you're looking for, commission it. Anandamali also offers classes in the attached studio; two-day courses are $450, and every student leaves with a mosaic table.
345 Greenwich Street (212-625-3148) An artist couple from Naples who have collaborated on dance, theater, and now decorative art are the whimsical force behind Pescepalla Docks, a gallery-like store where vases float in pools and paintings are sold by the foot (suitable for framing, or dressmaking). Side chairs embedded with rubber nipples (starting at $1,200) and vases rimmed in fur (starting at $1,200) may not be to everyone's taste, but it's worth a visit.
17 White Street (212-965-8919)
Audrey Hepburn would have felt at home in this showroom of mid-century design items from North America and Europe. Located in Jim Dine's old studio, the store has eight-inch square Gio Ponti tiles ($40), Paul Laszlo custom-designed walnut end tables ($10,500 a pair), and Edward Wormley's low chairs, vintage 1958 ($6,500 a pair).
Kevin Hart and Company
31 N. Moore Street (212-966-1963)
Kevin Hart's store is dedicated to "global style," a look that alludes to far-flung places and juxtaposes contrasting cultures. A Chinese basket storage table ($1,450) shares space with an onyx lamp with a Mica lampshade from Maine ($295).
Hook & Ladder Company 8
14 N. Moore Street
Housed in the fire station where Ghostbusters was shot is an exhibit of melted telephones, pitchers, fax machines, buzzers, and gewgaws collected during 25 years of fighting fires in the neighborhood. If the garage doors are open, have a look.