Best known for their marquee events during NYCxDESIGN, WantedDesign has now taken their desire to promote design and foster the international creative community to a storefront at Industry City, Brooklyn. The IC Store by WantedDesign offers up a curated assortment of well-designed gifts, accessories, toys, jewelry, housewares, and far more. Featuring independent designers and brands from around the globe, as well as a section dedicated entirely to designers and makers working at Industry City, WantedDesign now keeps the design conversation flowing year-round. Below, we talked to co-founders Claire Pijoulat and Odile Hainaut to learn more.
Why did you pick this city/neighborhood/storefront?
Located at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, an enormous hub to creative companies, designers, eateries, and furniture outlets, the location was an obvious choice for our storefront home. We had successfully launched WantedDesign Brooklyn – an outpost to our Manhattan show – in 2014. We included a pop-up store during WantedDesign Brooklyn 2015, and it was really a hit. We decided, together with Industry City, to open the permanent store a few months later. As Industry City began to transform into what it is today, both we and those at the helm at Industry City saw a tremendous opportunity to feature goods made right on site by the community of designers and businesses. Additionally, we didn’t want the design conversation and energy to stop at the end of our festival each May.
Where did you get the name for the store?
The WantedDesign name was created in 2011 when launching the first event. It was playing on the idea that we were disruptive and not following the rules of the traditional trade show, shaking a bit of the New York design scene like a “hors la loi,” and also of course suggesting that we will share and promote the best and most desirable design ideas and products. We liked the way those two words sound, very energetic and dynamic. For the store name, IC Store by WantedDesign, we wanted to state what we are and also include both the Industry City and WantedDesign origins. It’s really reflective of our partnership with Industry City and collaboration within its community.
Has it changed much since it opened? How?
The store has changed over time, from its physical location within Industry City to its mix of designers and brands to its presence outside of Brooklyn at WantedDesign Manhattan. But overall, the store has stayed constant in its mission to present a curated selection of design-focused products of all kinds from stationery to objects to accessories to books and beyond, with about half of the products designed or produced in Industry City.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
We see the store as an intersection between the WantedDesign fair, the Industry City maker community, international designers, and manufacturers who are making design products an accessible reality. It’s also about educating and inspiring the general public frequenting Industry City more and more, especially during the weekends. The challenge has been to bring all of this together and to recognize opportunities to grow the business along with Industry City as it evolves and engages the public. We work to strike the right balance and experience for our diverse audiences, while also maintaining our principles and flavor – you might call it – in the product selection.
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
Our retail director worked at the Guggenheim Store prior to joining us in May. In some ways, our store is similar to a museum store in that the product selection is highly curated and we offer a distinctive shopping experience, so we view a background in museum retail as a rather appropriate fit. It’s definitely bringing the WantedDesign retail operation to the next level.
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
The Braun ET66 calculator, a reissue of the iconic 1987 design. When people invest in things like desk accessories or home goods, these are objects that tend to stick around for the long haul. Why shouldn’t they be beautiful and better than average?
What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
We’re thinking about back-to-school, for both students and those heading back to the office or creative studios. We have plenty of items to help the transition and inspire organized study, creativity, and working routines for the semester ahead. We are also planing activities and selection for the holiday season.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
We have been captivated by our 3D-printed vases by UAU Project, a design studio based in Warsaw, Poland. The exacting detail and symmetry in the various shapes seem to express mathematical models, and the deep colors are stunning to look at with or without flowers.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
Our collection of soy based candles by Brooklyn Candle Studio has been a consistent best seller. Smell is powerful, and when beautifully composed into candles with lovely packaging it’s an easy finishing touch for favorite spaces. One of Brooklyn Candle Studio’s creations is the Escapist Collection. Each candle is based on a different place such as Maui, Tuileries, and Brooklyn – one of our favorites, of course.
What’s your process for selecting + curating the objects in your shop?
There is no particular process but rather a variety of ways we consider and source product. The WantedDesign May events are obviously one of our best resources. We receive interest and information by email and occasionally in person, we pursue our own concepts through a variety of channels and relationships, we attend trade shows and design weeks all over the world, and meet with Industry City tenants, etc. When we discover original designs and products that we like and seem to be a good fit, we bring them in.
Any special events/exhibits/pop ups/collaborations coming up?
We have a monthly design series in the works, beginning this fall. The format will vary and include things like talks by interdisciplinary designers, meet the maker events, pop-up shop features, holiday trunk shows, and more. We just did a great pop-up selection of Polish design and are planing to do similar pop-up from different countries. Stay tuned by joining our WantedDesign mailing lists!
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
We have plenty! Lots of candles, textile/bags items, and home accessories. For example, Odile loves the Crest Bottle Opener by Fort Standard, made from solid brass. She always keeps two on hand: one at home and one to give as a gift. Claire has several Menu and Alessi pieces in her kitchen and considers them as must-haves. Both have the Juniper M Lamp!
What’s been one of the most fulfilling aspects in opening your store?
Keeping the conversation and collaboration alive once the WantedDesign fair is over, and also being a happy surprise for people visiting Sunset Park who come to explore and enjoy Industry City year-round.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned since opening your store?
Keeping it at the right scale, staying true to the concept of the store and building the relationship with both our vendors and our customers are all essential.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path to yours, what would it be?
When you own a retail space, you are doing it all from customer service to buying and inventory control to marketing and operations. Patience is key, and it is good to remember that things aren’t always perfect, but passion, hard work and a stick-to-it attitude is a recipe for success.
Visit The IC Store by Wanted Design at 268 36th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232 or wanteddesignnyc.com/stores/.
Photos by Industry City.