Colony on Canal: the Tribeca design gallery putting designers first
A welcome addition to this year’s roster of NYCxDesign events across the city is new Tribeca design gallery Colony, with a show that marks the end of its first year in business. Behind the graffitied Canal Street exterior lies an unexpectedly bright and uplifting space where visitors can discover pieces by the country’s most exciting young design talents.
Founded and headed up by New York design editor and entrepreneur Jean Lin, the gallery space is set apart from New York’s many other design showrooms by the co-operative format on which it operates - designers pay co-op fees rather than high commission rates. ’The aim was to establish the most designer-friendly foundation before expanding the business,’ says Lin. ’The risk was a big one, but I think the reward for the designers involved could be even bigger.’
It’s a new way of working that levels the playing field in a country where young designers, who unlike their European contemporaries, don’t have a wealth of manufacturers eager to enlist their services. Each designer in the space is making everything themselves and often on a tight budget, leaving little leftover for investing in sales, marketing and a dedicated showroom space.
Lin currently has a posse of 17 textile, lighting and furniture makers under her wing and a string of hopefuls lining up, eager to be involved. From exquisitely crafted cabinets by Rhode Island School of Design-educated Kai-wei Hsu to stone and copper tabletop pieces by Boston-born, Rotterdam-based Rachel Griffin, each designer is carefully chosen by Lin. Syrette Lew of Brooklyn studio Moving Mountains, whose brass ’Palmyra’ floor lamp is currently on show at Colony, tells us, ’As far as I know, nothing else like this exists in New York and what does exist caters to another generation.’
Although launched a year ago during the 2014 design week, this year’s show marks the gallery’s true arrival in a city where local design is finally receiving the attention it deserves.