Sometimes, it is good to be the new kid on the block, especially when you can choose your own block. “I do not like Chelsea,“ admits Julien Lombrail.
So, instead, Lombrail and his partner Loïc Le Gaillard brought their Carpenters Workshop Gallery space to mid-town Manhattan, to a lofty penthouse on the 16th and 17th floor of the very Fifth Avenue building that used to harbor the upscale Japanese luxury department store Takashimaya.
“I wanted to be in walking distance for clients like Peter Marino, Robert Couturier and Juan Pablo Molyneux,” says Lombrail who, at 38 sports a boyish ruffled hairdo and exudes a restless sort of energy.
Carpenters arrives here ten years after they made a splash in London’s Albemarle district and, later, in the Marais, close to Centre Pompidou, where they set up shop in 2011. The project began as an outlet for the works of Lombrail’s mother, the Paris-based sculptor Ingrid Donat, who is best known for her Giacometti-like bronzes. Tough to say who influenced whom here: While he may have built the gallery for her, Donat’s work has morphed to meet the “functional sculpture and highly collectible furniture” in which her son now specializes. For instance, stellar Donat pieces—like the Commode aux 5 Engrenages - a chest of drawers with cogwheels inlayed down the sides - and the silver-plated Table Basse Disques, the ultimate coffee table—now accent the new space.
Perched somewhere between the milky glass facades of the new Microsoft Flagship store and Louis Vuitton’s glossy palace, the CGW duplex floats above the Fifth Avenue shopping mania below like a meditation space for Design Art aficionados. In one corner, you find Rick Owen’s bright green fur-covered Rick Alchemy Chairs and they stand next to an Atelier van Lieshout’s Technology Bronze Coffee Table full of industrial relics arranged like little houses on a toy railway track. Studio Drift’s chandeliers complement the abundant sun light streaming in through the window and Amsterdam artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta assembled the light modules pieces they call “Fragile Future” with dandelion seeds glued between light bulbs.
During The Salon Arts + Design, which ended Monday, there were daily dinner parties on the upper floor. The likes of Marino, Michael Chow, hotelier Sean McPherson and architect Charles Renfro sat around Donat’s monumental oak Tribal Table with bronze inlays.
Despite the table’s price tag - well into six figures - tablecloths and placemats are verboten. The surface treatment was developed by Carpenters Workshop Gallery and does not show a dent— except where intentionally placed by the artist. Says Lombrail: “We want to prove that these very special pieces can be an integral part of every-day-life.”
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
693 Fifth Avenue
By appointment only
T. 212-829 0610