In Denver and Montana, a Design Gallery Readies a New Chapter

The arrival of Emerson Bailey—purveyor of world-class antiques, midcentury vintage gems, and future classics—is bringing much-welcomed heat to the design landscapes of both locales.

Denver’s design scene is only getting hotter with the arrival of Emerson Bailey, which took over a former firehouse on the main drag of the city’s design district and filled it with world-class antiques, midcentury vintage gems, and future classics. The early-1900s building needed “a bit of a facelift,” founder Susan Weiss tells Surface. “I walked in and fell in love, but we had to touch every surface. There were purple window casings, gold walls, and a very beat-up floor.” A careful cleanup and whitewashing revealed 20-foot ceilings and a dozen massive, arched windows. “The architecture itself was strong enough” on its own, she says. 

Sweden-based curator Daniel Larsson helped fill it back up. Initial offerings include a rare Arne Jacobsen Egg chair with its original cognac leather and an extraordinary 19th-century Gustavian commode he spent years trying to convince an owner to part with, before nicknaming it “The Louis Vuitton Commode” thanks to its distinctive painted decoration. 

Along with the antiques, Emerson Bailey also carries new design objects. “We want to show our clients various smaller Scandinavian brands that are maybe not represented in America,” Larsson says, like the Danish fixture manufacturer Toni. The Denver location is joined this summer by a second gallery located in a light and airy former canning factory in Bozeman, Montana. “It’s always about finding beauty and rarity,” Weiss says. “It’s a special treat for the designers in the trade here.” And the rest of us.

All photography by Nicole Franzen.

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