When the pandemic ground the typical design-world social gatherings to a screeching halt, suddenly the industry’s primary avenue to unveil new launches disappeared. Wanting to showcase the work of his favorite makers during a period of uncertainty and creative lag, the interior designer Olivier Garcé decided to transform his West Village apartment into a makeshift collectible design gallery created specifically for the pandemic age. The setting is idyllic enough: a light-flooded one-bedroom apartment in a pre-war brownstone that Garcé, the former director of Pierre Yovanovitch’s acclaimed design practice, settled into when he relocated from Paris to establish the firm’s New York branch in 2019.
Garcé was already having conversations with his close inner circle of designers and makers, all of whom were itching to do something. “So we decided to bring all these people together,” he told Dezeen. “It was very interesting to push these guys to create new pieces. The New York spirit is so good; every time we proposed this idea, people were so happy to be involved. The goal isn’t to make money, but just to make something really creative at this moment.”
That’s exactly what you’ll find inside, where new pieces by Wayne Payte, Jean-Philippe Delhomme, Atelier Jouffre, Gabriella Picone, and Sharktooth were designed specifically for the occasion. The designer Minjae Kim, who works in the studio of Giancarlo Valle, contributed the mantle’s sculptural Oyster Lamp and the two-eared Lola Chair; Green River Project included a green-painted bamboo folding screen and a raffia-topped Half Moon stool. Garcé also intermixed his own collection of vintage furniture and artworks, including a Portuguese wooden mask and paintings by Imi Knoebel and Claire Tabouret.
Perhaps the most striking piece, however, is a coffee table with three chiseled wooden legs and a lava-stone surface in a pristine pink glaze that looks and feels like coral. It’s the latest feat from the ascendant furniture maker Ian Felton, who often draws inspiration from the animism of pre-Colombian culture. “I’ve been trying to perfect glazing lava stone with a process similar to ceramics glazing,” he tells Curbed. “I’ve been able to glaze large lava-stone volumes, turning a super-utilitarian material like lava stone into this really intriguing substance. The color possibilities are infinite.”
Garcé has opened up the space to visitors on a by-appointment basis, but has already shifted some vignettes around to accommodate his recent newborn. Regardless, he already plans to bring the communal gallery concept to the global stage—he recently bought another apartment, this time in Lisbon, which will mingle Portuguese crafts across ceramics, wood, and fabrics with his favorite creators from New York.