It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since Loic Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail opened Carpenters Workshop in London. In those years, the Frenchmen have undoubtedly secured their place (and the place of design-art) in the art world, having championed the artistically functional creations of Joanna Grawunder, Maarten Baas and Nacho Carbonell, just to name some.
This week, the duo is poised to reach new heights with the opening of a New York gallery space, literally. The American outpost is perched on the 19 and 20 floors of the ex-Takashimaya building situated on Fifth Avenue, which was originally designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. Following the move in of Valentino last year, the building also features David Chipperfield-designed interiors on its first three floors.
Way up above that, the Carpenters Workshop space is comparatively raw and unvarnished, though the double height windows, private elevator and array of collectible design certainly commands its own presence.
‘The American market is very savvy to the decorative arts and design, generally speaking. We’ve been doing a lot of our business with American clients already. Almost 40 per cent of our business is done in the States on a reactive basis. We thought it would make sense for us to come and start knocking on people’s door,’ says Lombrail.
‘We want to convey not only the aesthetic of the gallery but also explain to people how you can live with these pieces,’ he continues. ‘We are very fortunate to have this amazing space on Fifth Avenue. The 19th floor stays mostly as a white box where we will stage some rigorous exhibitions, sometimes showing just one artist at a time to explain the work, and on the 20th floor, we’re going to do something more domestic, where we almost transform the 20th floor as an apartment, which I’d like to believe would become my perfect bachelor’s pad.’
For its opening, the gallery has installed an assortment of its greatest hits; works from recognizable names such as Baas, Carbonell, Rick Owens and Studio Job are mixed in with Wonmin Park’s ‘Haze’ stools, Random International’s interactive wall sculptures and Studio Drift’s swirling ‘Flylight’ chandelier - many of which have on been created specially for the occasion. And since there’s nothing quite like seeing and experiencing the scale and tactility of these thought-provoking pieces in the flesh, we’re predicting that the gallery won’t stay a quiet house for long.