Gestalt New York can be summed up simply by knowing the definition of the word: an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. It completely captures what owners Adrian Pollack and Karolina Dabo have built: a furniture store (and more) where each piece is as important as the entire collection.
Recently, Gestalt New York opened its first showroom in the design and shopping town of Hudson, New York. The showroom, located on Warren Street, showcases a selection of pieces from all of the brands they currently offer. It was designed to be a destination where their clients can experience their unique offerings in person, giving them a destination outside of their New York City office to engage and experience.
Why did you pick this city/neighborhood?
Adrian: We’ve had a weekend house upstate for about 10 years and have seen how much the area has evolved during that time. It’s always been charming, but in the last few years it has become more design-focused and sophisticated as a younger, more creative audience has been discovering the region. Warren Street in Hudson is such a unique place, almost from another time. I don’t think there is anywhere like it in the U.S. where people still take the time to explore the streets looking for inspiration, or simply discovering unique furniture and design. It’s a dedicated audience of locals, city weekenders, and tourists from across the country. But, selfishly, having spent years becoming immersed in the relaxed atmosphere and the unique community spirit, my husband and I were definitely looking for a way to be able to spend more time upstate. The showroom space itself became available after many years as a gallery, and it was exactly what we were looking for in terms of size and location. It’s also on one of the busiest blocks of Warren Street, right next door to Moderne, one of the areas most well known mid-century vintage stores. We’re also surrounded by other great neighbors like Hawkins across the street, and Finch down the road.
Karolina: I love the history of Hudson and the creative community that resides here. I also love that we get to meet a combination of locals and Manhattanites (and Brooklynites) visiting for the day or weekend. Clients and customers here appreciate art and design. Often, the entire purpose of their visit is just to check out the furniture on Warren Street.
Where did you get the name for the store?
Adrian: Gestalt is defined as “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts” and it encapsulates every aspect of our business. With our collection we try to find brands and pieces we love that can stand by themselves but also complement each other to build a strong overall aesthetic. We also apply this philosophy to the way we approach business. Every aspect, from the furniture, to the website, to our approach to customer service, and even details like the music we play and the candles we burn, are all part of the unique overall experience.
Has it changed much since it opened? How?
Adrian: The showroom has only been open for three weeks, so we haven’t experienced too much change yet. But we’re already full of ideas, and it has been exciting to hear the positive feedback and have clients come back a second or third time. We’ve even had clients who have made the trip from the city just to visit the showroom. It makes us feel like we’ve done something right.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
Adrian: With my experience mostly in sales and Karolina’s in marketing, we had to quickly learn other skills like accounting and logistics. Luckily, we’ve been able to find great partners who’ve been willing to work with us and teach us what we don’t know. It’s been incredibly fulfilling building the brand from scratch.
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
Adrian: I worked for Fritz Hansen for 7 years managing the contract sales business and dealer network. After that I had a similar position at Tom Dixon, which gave me much more retail experience. My last position prior to Gestalt was as retail manager for Molteni Dada, building and growing the network of showrooms in the U.S. and Mexico.
Karolina: I was the Marketing Manager for Fritz Hansen, North America for over ten years. But my most recent role was Director of Marketing for Flos, USA.
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
Adrian: As an Australian, I am so excited to represent some great Australian brands in the U.S. I especially love the Scape chairs by Grant Featherston, arguably Australia’s most prolific mid-century designer. It’s such an elegant design which, because of its incredible details, makes much more of a statement than its proportions would normally allow. It’s a timeless design that feels very international. The designer’s widow, architect Mary Featherston, still oversees the production in collaboration with Gordon Mather Industries and Grazia & Co. and it’s still being produced using the original mold for the base.
Karolina: My favorite piece is the Bastone Cabinet designed by Antrei Hartikainen for Poiat. Made from solid oak, it’s an incredible piece of design and manufacturing. Of course the appearance is stunning, but the details are equally as impressive. The way the wooden rods are each held in place by a small spring is a work of art in itself. Adrian and I were lucky enough to meet Antrei at the Stockholm Design Fair earlier this year. At only 27, he is truly an impressive designer and craftsman.
What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
Generally our approach is not to be too seasonal but to really hone in on timeless, authentic materials and designs, with a focus on extraordinary craftsmanship.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
Adrian: The TMBO chair and sofa by Mazo is one of my new favorites. Designed by Magnus Læssøe Stephensen (MLS) in 1935, it was just relaunched this May in Copenhagen by the new Danish company, Mazo, founded by MLS’s own grandson. MLS was an architect in the golden age of Danish design and was best friends with other iconic designers of the time – Arne Jacobsen, Poul Henningsen, Børge Mogensen, and Kay Bojesen. He was very much inspired by the trends in Bauhaus, but maybe even more so by the Japanese approach to functional design. He also made silver and steel-ware for Georg Jensen, and his cutlery is part of the permanent exhibition at MoMA.
Karolina: Origin is this beautiful accessory company that pairs talented designers with local artisans and makers from Portugal. The collection of contemporary objects shares the true origin of these products and the stories of the people who make them. As we live in an increasingly digital world, Origin aspires to bring a greater sense of tactility back to everyday life and deepen the relationship between people and their objects. Materials that are rough in texture with natural imperfections, or handmade objects that are slightly unique from one another are what makes the collection so beautiful.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
The Snug Chair by Australian designer Dennis Abalos has been incredibly popular, as have the Iva Stools by Grazia & Co.
What’s your process for selecting + curating the objects in your shop?
Adrian: Firstly, we have to love it and want it for ourselves. We also try to find products that are different and perhaps newer to the U.S. market. Ariake is a great example of that. In some cases, we are the first to represent these brands in the U.S. Getama, for example, has been around for 100 years and has an incredibly strong collection with wonderful heritage, but for some reason it was just not as established in the U.S. market as other Danish brands. When we look for products we try to think in terms of what will suit, and be sympathetic to the upstate surroundings and clientele. But it also has to translate for our work in the city. The collection is a little bit more eclectic and international than the stereotypical upstate aesthetic, heavily influenced by our experience with Danish and Australian design. When putting together the showroom we selected products and finishes as a whole, so that everything worked together to create a cohesive point of view. Even when choosing the paint and floor colors it was important to really compliment all of the pieces we had selected. That’s very much the philosophy of Gestalt.
Any special events/collaborations coming up?
Karolina: We are very new to the Hudson community, but have connected with the local business coalition for future events and collaborations throughout the year. Coming up, we will be participating in the Kingston Showhouse with a brilliant local designer.
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
Adrian: I wish we had more, but we love our Friends & Founders Knock Out tables and Scape Dining chairs. The Paperwood tables by Ariake are one of my favorites and feature prominently in our living area.
Karolina: We have the Klassik Studios coffee table with a grey marble top and oak base. It takes pride of place in our living room. We love it! It’s clean and modern, but with a sense of timelessness. We also have a couple of Ariake Saga Lounge chairs in black designed by Anderssen & Voll.
What’s been one of the most fulfilling aspects in opening your store?
Adrian: Constantly learning new things. But also being able to curate our own vision of what our “modern” looks like.
Karolina: Having something that we can call our own. It’s been incredibly rewarding and it genuinely makes us happy.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned since opening your store?
Adrian: Not to be afraid to ask for advice or help. Everyone has been amazingly supportive and willing to throw their support behind us.
Karolina: I think one of the biggest lessons has been not to be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes we’ve had to make quick decisions, and the fear of making a mistake has been very intimidating. But not making a decision is more of a mistake than taking the risk.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path to yours, what would it be?
Adrian: Do something you that brings you joy because it can be a lot of work!
Karolina: Make sure you pursue something that makes you happy because at the end of the day, you spend more time at work than anywhere else. You should fill those days and years doing something you love.