Habit-Forming Patterns: Six Secret Pleasures. New, Made-in-NYC Finds.


For the seeker of design, to shine and spiff up the abode for the coming cold, New York City’s inspirations are a wealth to draw from, no matter where you live. The vast array of “Made-in-NYC” choices can scream at the senses, maybe a bit like the riot of color above, a well-lit candy shop pixelating and pulsing from behind its night security screen. But train the eye to look at pattern and color as it unexpectedly shows up…anywhere…and one can discover original ideas, the greatness of goods and acquire a habit for the home-grown Pleasures as only Gotham can offer them.

Here are six secret “Made-in-NYC” Pleasure spots and ideas to get your winter juices flowing.

ONE   There is a sweet spot in NYC’s East Village, before and aft of Thompkins Square Park, where Ninth Street sits demurely as a row of gussied-up church girls or a row of gingerbreadish candy shops, a bazaar, where home pretties spill unto the street as a continuous proffering from already intriguing window tableaus.  These turned wood lamps at #614 East 9th, turned our head at Lora Sroka, a delightful window into the world of a 20th century wood sculptor. Looks like she’ll turn a design commission or two as well.

TWO    This acid green of a light at #628, further East on 9th Street, had us wistfully thinking about light and glass and green and how vastly ethereal a door can be. An intimate concert at a gallery with changing light projections on the wall also inspired earlier in the week. Programming this in a living room for atmosphere is a beautiful, accessible idea for evenings in. Especially with the mix of scaled, black and white patterns!

All the color reminded us of the power of painting a door or floor, the famous signature habit of Jamie Drake, Interior Designer, King of Color, and particularly his black and white faux-marble, patterned painted floor at Gracie Mansion, the official home of New York’s Mayor. We toured privately last summer and the secret Pleasures abound. Worth a trip to see the preserved 19th century children’s graffiti, the obscure history antiquey bits and the rare “only in Manhattan would Federal style meet rock and roll” color and design combos.

THREE     The dining room has a completely different feel, a more befitting uptown pedigree, as it features a circa 1830 Zuber wallpaper mural of bucolic French parkland peppered with amusing denizens frolicking about in their Flatland 2-D nature scene. Interior designer Albert Hadley, as part of the mansion’s 1980’s renovation, installed this wallpaper masterpiece entitled, “Les Jardins de Paris,” a classic mural from the esteemed maison, which is still in operation today in France. The mural was actually discovered pristine, still in its original wrapping paper, in the attic of a home in the Hudson Valley and transported especially for this room. So what’s so nouveau about murals?

Blame it on Avatar, photosynthesis deficits or just a cocoon of nostalgia. In any case, this lust brought us to discover Thibaut, a local manufacturer in nearby Newark, New Jersey, which, surprisingly, is the oldest wallpaper company in the United States, a family owned business still in design and production since 1886. They stock their own original 1960’s murals, as well as produce custom designs. Imagine how really novel these could be with bold modern furniture and some vivid, rich and electric pastel color like neon lemon or plum ala Jamie Drake.

FOUR    The greens wrapping a room can bring on a quest for bucolic-to-mouth resuscitation via local farm-to-table treasures. The Sauce, on #78 to #84 Rivington Street, is local and visionary, in that kind of “…and I’m hungry for more” Bourdain way. It’s no secret, the secret sauce is that Frank Prisinzano hails from Queens, New York, and grew up making gravy with Grandma. This tasty hometown twist on tradition seen below is 100% fresh cucumber tagiatelle pasta with mint and grey salt.

Another pristine French import to NYC these days is Maison Kayser, the famous French bread now here and baking local at #1294 Third Avenue, at 74th Street. Kneaded, shaped and baked on-site, owner Eric Kayser convinced Unesco to classify this kind of baking as “heritage.” He may be more loco than local, as he meets NYC’s King of Bread, Eli Zabar, head on, at The Vinegar Factory rooftop, let’s say. Eric’s chef pieds planted at #431 East 91st Street at York? Non! Eli’s home turf shall be defended with his famed sourdough. We can see a battle of the baguettes already.

FIVE     Custom designed stairs are rare enough. Rarer still would be a deep sea fisherman and a former chef in St. Barts who now is a “Stair Master” for custom home and architect commissions. Philippe Jacquet is the man.  No website, no phone number. How do you find him? Word-of-mouth. Ask a local! Ask me!

White or gloss black plus all the tan tones of wood are another “color” inspiration…this building getting a hose-down inspired the other day for its pattern and power. Look at the nearby mottled blue black and grass greens too! Plush and sleek textural pattern Pleasure!

SIX    Saving the best for last, number six is earthy, drippy, home-made, hipster NYC (yes, Brooklyn) chocolate pronounced, “Raaka” or “virgin chocolate.” Which is to say…Get Your Hands Dirty. Go ahead, play with your candy, play with your chocolate.

Slowly. In melt in your mouth sound bites: Unroasted. Stone ground. Small Batch. Vegan. Nut free. Gluten free. Bourbon. Sea salt. Chili. Blueberry lavender. Vanilla rooibos. Made from certified organic ingredients. Made in Brooklyn.

Inspired by owner, Ryan Cheney’s mystical trip to a Thailand yoga school, in which, as it doubled as a chocolate factory, he had visions of becoming Willy Wonka. Whole Foods carries the tasty bits wrapped in caffeine-come-hither patterned paper. See how wholesome New Yorkers are now since the 80’s?

Raaka packaging reminded me of this Yayoi Kusama-designed, vertigo building facade going up on 14th Street, called 365 Meatpacking. The secret construction carries on behind the curtain while the street gets some art and color and pattern.

There you go NYC, leading the pack again. The surprise of it all is the 1960’s Mad Men era white brick facade going up behind the dot-screen, sporting some very suburban vibes don’t you think? Is this the beginning of a new pattern? Or is it Gothamites welcoming the Luddite pleasures of nostalgic childhood fantasies, where the secret pleasures of backyard green made play so habit forming?

Hmm, make me that highball cocktail (a Made-in-NYC invention) and let’s discuss on the patio.

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