Apartment by The Line: The Home of Retail Storytelling30 September, 2014
The Apartment isn't a home, but a tactile retail space where almost everything is for sale.
On an unassuming door on Greene Street in New York’s SoHo is a tiny sign in neat, sans serif type. ‘The Apartment places the storied objects of theline.com into the intimate context of a home,’ it reads, ‘It is also a place to gather and learn more about the creators of quintessential things: their inspirations, ideas, processes, guiding traditions, and materials.’ Behind the door is an elevator. I step in, press ‘3’ and sail upwards. The doors open into The Apartment by The Line – an elegant, sun drenched 279 m² loft, all white walls, pressed metal ceilings, and buttery polished floors. Just beyond the entrance, a heavy grey Proenza Schouler coat and a navy leather satchel hang nonchalantly from a hook, while a chrome and white bicycle by Stockholm design company BIKEID is propped below one of the loft’s monumental windows. A custom Las Venus navy velvet sofa – arguably the room’s pièce de résistance – sits opposite a pair of striking Model 4801 chairs by Italian industrial designer Joe Colombo, and an expansive feature wall hosts photographs by revered artists including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Andreas Kohler. Grounded by a neutral rug sourced from Morocco, the room is brimming with beautiful things.
The Apartment isn’t a home, but a tactile retail space where almost everything is for sale. Designed to mirror the minimalist inspirations of its online arm, theline.com, The Apartment brings the covetable to life, without stripping the carefully curated objects and curios of personality. The space – which includes a monochromatic bedroom complete with decadent freestanding bathtub, a dining room that doubles as a workspace, and a walk in wardrobe studded with luxe basics – feels more like an ongoing art installation than a showroom, and, since its unveiling in October 2013, has become a place where vision, taste and retail storytelling collide. The creation of esteemed stylists Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn, built 140 years ago from sketches by cast iron architecture icon Isaac F. Duckworth, The Apartment is dotted with pieces the pair feels an affinity for. Hungry to give their online store, theline.com, a bricks and mortar existence, Traina and Wendelborn drew inspiration for the space from the quintessential items they wanted to outfit it with, and how they imagined they would exist in someone’s real life. To give the space its unique aesthetic, they sought the eye of set designer Carl Sprague, who collaborates regularly with film director Wes Anderson. While adhering to The Apartment’s signature palette of white, navy, grey, and black, Sprague allowed more playful items in to add texture to the rooms; a lush fur throw, a series of whimsical glass chandeliers, heavy vintage tomes, and quirkily, colourful pottery. The result is a space that feels special without ever feeling sterile. It’s lived in luxurious without seeming intimidating, and lavish but never gaudy.
Excess isn’t something Morgan and Vanessa are drawn to, and all of the items in the store are there because they use them in their own homes. “Versatility, use and storytelling, both about our products and the lives we see them in, are really important to us,” says Morgan. “It’s about conscious consumption, but maybe not in the way you might expect. We want to take a closer look at the objects we bring into our lives so that we keep them longer and they develop a history with us.” Morgan and Vanessa sought to bring a mix of price points to The Apartment because, they say, the variation is emblematic of how people live today. “You may spend a lot on a Poul Kjaerholm chair not only because of how well it’s made or designed, but because it’s going to go with you each time you move. It’s not something you’re going to leave on the curb. But how about something like a toothbrush or shampoo? They are practical essentials, but also items you replenish. Everyone needs a mix of those things.”
The Apartment is open Wednesdays and Saturdays and by appointment. Morgan and Vanessa will host cultural and social events in the space, from symposiums, installations and performances to parties and dinners. They will also invite guest curators, designers, artists and decorators to contribute concepts to The Apartment, a space they envision as constantly evolving.