The New Gift Shop

Murray Moss is reinventing the shop at Philip Johnson’s Glass House.


Wherever he travels, Murray Moss, the SoHo design retailer turned consultant, makes a point to stop at gift shops. “To me, souvenirs are such critical objects,” says the founder of Moss Bureau, a design advisory firm that is, in partnership with Francois de Menil Architects, seeking to change the identity of the museum gift shop from tchotchke-strewn afterthought to rigorous purveyor of curated goods. “I’ve been collecting souvenirs for 25 years,” he says. “Maybe ‘collect’ is too glamorous a word. But it’s important that we find keepsakes that have integrity and are true remembrances of an experience.”

Herman Miller Ball Wall Clock

Moss Bureau’s first undertaking is the store at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the modernist mecca in New Canaan, Connecticut, which under Moss’s obsessive direction now offers midcentury design finds—like Carlo Mazzeri’s stainless steel Alessi bowls and trays from 1949 ($120 to $165), the same year the Glass House was erected—and contemporary treasures, like a 2009 Tokujin Yoshioka Tofu light ($940). “These are all functional objects, but they inherently contain the thinking that Philip Johnson might have incorporated,” Moss explains. “They are domestic goods made of industrial products, or they play with transparency and reflection and depth. If I couldn’t find a connection to Johnson, I didn’t buy it. But even if that sounds esoteric to some people, at the very worst you can still walk away with, say, a really beautiful tea kettle (Revere Ware, $39.95).”