As well-trod as New York City's Chelsea district might be, its force as a cultural destination shows no signs of easing. And now there's Chamber, an exciting gallery/boutique hybrid recently launched on the ground floor of Neil Denari's HL23 building, underneath the High Line.
Though futuristic on the outside, Chamber is a romantic evocation of the private salons of the past, filled with curiosities. Its founder, Juan Garcia Mosqueda, has assembled an ambitious 100-piece collection of limited-edition and one-of-a-kind objets d'art, with the help of a changing curator.
'I was really intrigued by the idea of having one space with multiple aesthetic views and personalities that would change with time,' says Mosqueda, who cut his teeth working with veteran design entrepreneur Murray Moss and the Museum of Modern Art. 'Chamber will involve different curators commissioning new works from around the world, so it will reflect a particular outlook of how they see art and design.'
For its premiere collection, Mosqueda roped in Studio Job, whose design signature is evident in 60 newly commissioned pieces from designers, artists and craftsmen including Alessandro Mendini, Aldo Bakker, Formafantasma, Maarten Baas and Viktor & Rolf. The remaining 40 objects consist of rare pieces, like a Dieter Rams radio and original copies of De Stijl, that reflect the influences of Studio Job founders Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel. 'I wanted to create an atmosphere that felt in the middle ground between being in a warehouse and a museum,' says Smeets, who went as far as designing custom pedestals out of shipping crates for each piece.
To do the retail concept justice, Mosqueda enlisted the services of MOS Architects, sharing images of ancient reliquaries and crypts to inspire the treatment of the cavernous space. Below the vaulted ceiling is a system of tubular volumes in round and angular shapes. Perforated metal sheets form the display wall and retail counter, and the floor is made from speckled concrete with graphic, stainless-steel seams slicing through it. MOS partner Michael Meredith says, 'There is a sensibility that the space is very old, but the floating, parametric elements, like the non-structural vaults, are of the present.'
While it may seem that most of Chamber's stock comes with a hefty price tag, each collection features a newly commissioned tea towel, catalogue and fragrance that are more affordable. Of the store's wide scope, Mosqueda says, 'After working at Moss, I found there was a real gap in New York, no place for design experimentations that was free of constraints.' Suffice to say, that position has now been filled.