Crate & Barrel cut the ribbon Thursday on its brand new flagship in the Flatiron District of New York City, a property built right before the dawn of the Gilded Age.
The new Crate & Barrel and Crate & Kids store at 881 Broadway is set in the historic Palace of Trade, which was at once the largest department store in New York City, the company said. The 611 Broadway location, that housed Crate & Barrel for 30 years in NoHo, has been closed.
“Moving after 30 years was a big step. Our new flagship location is a true reflection of our future,” said Crate & Barrel’s senior vice president of product design, Sebastian Brauer, in an interview with WWD, proudly showcasing the rows of neoclassical columns that have endured nearly 150 years.
Management opted for a more open-space floor plan, spanning 23,000 square feet with room for interactive features, intricate wall fixtures for swatches, hardware and lighting, a dedicated botanical shop, and more. The store employs 30 interior design experts who can work with customers to create 2D floor plans, 3D renderings and complete their spaces and outfit their homes. “Interior Design experts hand over projects turnkey style — like a private custom boutique interior design service,” Brauer said.
Crate & Barrel will also launch its first immersive virtual store, a replica of the flagship, meant to allow customers to experience and envision more than 450 products digitally.
Founded by Gordon and Carole Segal in 1962, Crate and Barrel was born after the couple visited Europe and was inspired to bring simple, beautiful and practical housewares to the U.S. market. Their first location was in an old elevator factory on Chicago’s Wells Street.
A giant 20-foot-tall by 40-foot-wide shelf showcases a multitude of plain white tableware, some inspired by the sort of modernist Bauhaus influence the Segal’s encountered on their European honeymoon. The Aspen tabletop collection, as today it is called, was the first silhouette the company ever made.
“What’s unique is the modern elements that are juxtaposed with the classic ones that make the space so vibrant and unique to us,” Brauer added, pointing to large, hand-painted illustrations on white canvas with simple oak frames by multidisciplinary artist Jimmy Thompson, who Brauer commissioned to depict nearby landmarks like Madison Square Park, Union Square, the Flatiron building and the Brooklyn Bridge. “I wanted something with character and humor to capture the energy of the city and the neighborhood.”
Today, the business’ holding company Crate and Barrel Holdings is a member of the Otto Group and employs 7,500 associates across Crate & Barrel, Crate & Kids and CB2, its more design-forward brand. With more than 100 stores and franchise partners in nine countries, it’s a reference for contemporary and modern furniture, housewares and decor.
To kick off this historic opening, Crate & Barrel will be hosting the Flatiron Food & Design Festival onsite beginning Thursday through Dec. 19. In addition to a roster of discussion panels, food demos, in-person monogramming and more, food and design figures like Athena Calderone and Molly Baz are expected to attend special events. Calderone will cohost a panel with Brauer on trends, while Baz will sign copies of her new cookbook, “More Is More.”