South Street Seaport has long been a cog in the rapidly whirling wheel of a Manhattan tourist’s agenda – thanks in no small part to its fleet of 19th-century ships and, lets be honest, mass-market indulgences (Abercrombie & Fitch and Guess have outposts there). But in recent months, hip city shoppers rarely seen in these parts have started to appear. That’s largely due to a flock of new design-forward stores and restaurants setting down roots.
The Latest Seaport Studios, was recently opened in an airy storefront by the Howard Hughes Corporation (yes, that Howard Hughes) and the fashion trade publication WWD. They filled it with the kinds of bespoke experiences that New Yorkers will actually leave their neighborhoods for – local designers, doting staff, a barista counter powered by the Upper East Die stalwart Via Quadronno, a Milanese-inspired café. It’s all a part of Howard Hughes Corporation’s master plan to revitalize the once-down-on-its-luck area.
“Hurricane Sandy made South Street Seaport a ghost town,” says Graham Kelman, a creative director at Guild, the firm that designed the shop. “Howard Hughes wants to redefine it.” (Literally as well as figuratively: the neighborhood has been rebranded the Seaport District.)
That goal is evident in the design of the two-story shop, which faces cobblestoned two-story shop, which faces cobblestoned Fulton Street and is contemporary yet warm, thanks to circular pendant lamps and a plethora of blonde woods. “We kept referring to this as neo-nautical,” Kelman says with a laugh. “We don’t want it to feel themey but familiar.”