South Soho’s One of NYC’s Coolest ‘Hoods—Let Lyndsey Butler Show You Around
Where to eat, shop, and get your hair dyed blue.
“While traditional Soho has big-box stores—the Zaras and H&Ms—South Soho has a lot of new, up-and-coming things. I like that there are a lot of young creatives working in the neighborhood,” says Lyndsey Butler of the cultish leather line Veda. And she should know: She set up shop there and also lives nearby, right around the bend in Chinatown. Here, seven reasons why she’s so bullish on the ‘hood. —alisha prakash
101 Spring Street
“Donald Judd’s studio-slash-home has finally been restored and reopened as part of his foundation. You have to book a time to go see it. I’m from Texas, and Donald Judd also has a big foundation there and lived in Marfa—that’s how the whole art scene got started there. Everything he did was so specific—he was really focused on space and light, and so his Soho loft has furniture that he designed that works perfectly for that space.”
(101 Spring St.)
“Antifurniture is by this guy, Nelson, who has a great collection of used art books, zines, and other printed material like old magazines—mostly from the seventies, eighties, and nineties. He has this great archive of imagery that he sets up on the street and sells when it’s nice out. He’s going to curate a little collection for the store—we’re going to pick things that are in-line with Veda, so punk zines, motorcycle magazines, and stuff like that.”
(Howard St. and Broadway)
“I love the Acne Studios store. It’s weird and cool, and they make great basics with a little bit of flair. I love their denim, T-shirts, and sweaters. I like to go in there and see what they’re doing. They usually have cool collaborations and artwork, and they change their displays often.”
(33 Greene St.)
“I’ve been seeing Lena Ott at Suite Caroline for probably three or four years. She’s an amazing colorist–she does all the models and Scarlett Johansson. She just opened this salon not that long ago on Greene Street. It’s designed so well, and the team is awesome. My hair has been blue for the last year or so. I did it myself at first, but she touches it up for me. We have a lot of fun with it. She is honest and is an artist. She knows what’s going to look good color-wise.”
(65 Greene St., 2nd Fl.)
Smile to Go
“Smile to Go’s coffee is great. If you want to get lunch there, go by noon because they sell out of a lot of the stuff. If you miss lunch, they have coffee all day long, and their cookies are to-die-for. They have a dark chocolate chip with sea salt that’s crazy-good.”
(22 Howard St.)
“Ryan McGinley has a show there that looks really awesome. The gallery doesn’t just represent photographers but a mix of up-and-coming and established artists.”
(83 Grand St.)
“BDDW is very pricey, but it’s beautiful. Their furniture is amazing, but their space is worth it just to go inside. There are these tall, arched ceilings, and their furniture is all handmade—it’s a cool mix of Americana heritage with modern details. I’m not doing it justice, but it’s really beautiful.”
(5 Crosby St.)
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See All the Rad Details That Make the Veda Store the Coolest
The space might be small, but it’s stuffed with character.
Lyndsey Butler, who closed her Lower East Side shop in 2011 after the lease expired, started itching to open a new NYC store in 2013. “Our collection is very leather-heavy and outerwear-specific, but we actually do a full collection—and I felt like a store would be a great place to showcase that. I wanted people to see the other things we do—sweaters, dresses, and things like that—so I started looking for a space near the office and it just happened,” she says. Though she might have totally stumbled upon the South Soho storefront, Lyndsey was super-thoughtful about how she built it out. Check out how all of the elements came together—and then find some time to go see them in-person. —alisha prakash
“We had the neon sign outside made. We work with a design company called Arch & Loop—they designed our logo.”
“From the street, you can see our big sign, but when you walk up, it feels like you’re in the lobby of a normal residential building. You have to buzz in, and you have to walk through this door, which leads you to that lobby area. From there, you walk into the store. It’s one of the store’s quirks, but all part of the charm of the space. We have this little lobby area that anyone in the building can use, but we kind of took it over and redid it. We recovered the chairs in this silver fabric that I think is fun, and then there’s a cement cube side table that mirrors the floors in actual store nicely. The mannequin is a Ralph Pucci mannequin—it’s part of a series he did of Christy Turlington when she released her yoga line. She’s doing tree pose in this particular one.”
“Here, we’re looking into the store. In the back corner, there’s a standard cash wrap. I wanted something like from the movie Shopgirl—something basic. I also wanted something that was clear, so we can do different displays in there, whether it’s a flower arrangement or a piece of ceramic. Right now, there’s a green pitcher inside, and sometimes it has plants in it.”
“I wanted the store to feel clean and gallery-like. The walls are white, and the floors are cement—it’s a blank canvas in that way. I loved the idea of all-rug everything. It felt like a fun idea to flip that on its head and do them on the ceiling. There’s a vendor who sells rugs at the Brooklyn Flea—we went out to his warehouse, and that’s where we got a lot of them. We got a few at the ABC Home outlet in the Bronx, too. It’s such a small space, so we tried to put a personal touch anywhere we could. It’s the little things like that that make this tiny little white box feel unique and feel like us.”
“When we moved in, there were linoleum floors that were falling apart. We tore everything up. I really wanted cement floors. They said it was too hard to do that because you have to pour one to two inches of cement, and it raises the height for everything else. I finally convinced them to do it, and it was awesome. We bought this cool piece of colored marble and laid that down first and then poured the cement around it so it has this floating-island-of-marble effect. This is one of the displays we have in the store—it’s a gradated, mirrored podium. On top is a clutch made of leftover remnants from the rug for the ceiling.”
“We got these wall plants from the Union Square Greenmarket. I wanted to bring something live into the space. We have a guy who comes in a couple of times a month and makes sure they’re doing well, and if one of them needs to be replaced or replanted, he helps us maintain that. He makes sure all of them are very happy.”
“The clothing racks are these clear, lucite, open kind-of-cubes. We had them custom-made. They are extremely heavy and cannot be moved and are really fragile, but I love them. They feel like they’re floating in a fun way.”
To see all this awesomeness IRL, head to the Veda store at 19 Mercer St. in NYC.
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Kylie Nakao’s 3 Very Favorite Beaches Near NYC
Um, she even hits the waves before she starts her day.
When Kylie Nakao isn’t working on her super-fly stackable jewelry line Tarin Thomas, she’s in the sand—a habit she picked up when she moved from Canada to New York in 2009. “Whenever I’m there, the weekend feels like it’s 10 days long,” she says. “The bustle of the city disappears, and you feel like you’re in a completely different world.” Three beaches under three hours from NYC? Right this way. —genevieve ang
This is the closest beach to the city, and you can take the ferry or train there. We’ll go in the morning before work at 4 A.M.—I’m not so diehard, but my boyfriend will surf while I chill on the beach. It’s not the prettiest beach—there’s always garbage floating around!—but it’s only a 45-minute ride from downtown, so I can’t really complain.
The Must-Do: Eat at Rockaway Taco. Everyone talks about it, but it’s definitely one of our favorite places to go to. It’s been there since the very beginning—and made it through Sandy and the crazy storm.
We’ll take the train out sometimes on the weekend. It’s a cool little island—and no cars are allowed on it—so there’s a great beach-town vibe. It’s where I first learned to surf, but you can also paddle board and do tons of beach activities.
The Must-Do: Picnic on the beach. We have this great thing called the MULE that is basically a set of wheels for your surfboard. We prepare a picnic and drag all our gear on this to the beach—there aren’t a ton of restaurants on the island except in the little towns, so you really go there for the water.
Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk
This is where I’ve been spending most of my time because my friend recently bought a place here. This is the first summer where I’ve really started to pick up surfing, and this is the perfect beach to learn. It has a totally different vibe because it’s full of younger people who’ve trekked out three hours from the city to get to the beach.
The Must-Do: Hang out at Surf Lodge. They do live concerts—around three or four each weekend. We canoe over and listen from the pond. They hold the most amazing sunset parties, and it’s a good way to wind down from the day and have a couple of cocktails.
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Get Some Everyday Inspo With Carolyn A’Hearn
Her walk around Greenpoint is on-point.
The commute from Carolyn A’Hearn’s apartment to the studio she shares with about a dozen other jewelers is, oh, maybe ten minutes. But that quick stroll is enough to spark a collection’s worth of ideas. “I know it sounds sort of corny, but I am so inspired by New York City,” she explains. And she doesn’t mean just mean the bright lights and big city—nah, Carolyn’s drawn to cracks in the sidewalks and piles of unexpected rubble. Here, Carolyn shows us the things in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, you might not have noticed—but she definitely did. —jane-claire quigley
“I love to walk as much as I can because I find New York City so visually stimulating—for the density and also just the sheer amount of stuff everywhere. Sometimes on my walks I will come across broken bits and discarded things strewn across the ground, like this tiny fractured mirror. I always like thinking about how little cast-off shapes might be re-imagined as something brand-new. “
“My studio is in an old brick building near McCarren Park. It was built in 1930, and the structure has a wonderfully substantial feel to it. These cylindrical shapes were drilled from the solid brick walls. The silhouette changes from each angle, and each becomes several different shapes.”
“Wandering in Greenpoint, sometimes I will get lucky enough to peek into one of the warehouses and find a hidden treasure. I love the way these slender arches stack one on top of the other, and how the gentle curve has a softness to it. I like how the idea of softness and structure can interact in jewelry, and I’m always trying to create pieces that have a very tactile quality.”
“This bit of plaster is so great because it is actually a part of the wall where some tile fell off and revealed this pattern underneath. Not only is it scraped over its foundation in such a pretty, unintentional pattern but it also reveals an interesting history and craftsmanship that isn’t always immediately visible when looking at something so ordinary and everyday.”
“At dusk, I walk from my studio to my apartment, and I always love looking up at the beautiful trees that line my street. I’m always trying to bring out that feeling of organized asymmetry in my work in subtle, unexpected ways.”
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Teresa Kahres Unearths the Very Best Spots in Carroll Gardens
Many of her faves have been in the neighborhood as long as she has.
“I’m a very loyal person,” says Teresa Kahres, who’s spent the vast majority of her time in NYC—14 years, but who’s counting?—living in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens. Which obviously means she should be your go-to girl when looking for recs in the ‘hood—and we’re not just talking about the fancy new joints. —meghana gandhi
A rack just waiting to be scoured at Olive’s.
3 Places You Have to Hit for Vintage
Olive’s Very Vintage
“Jen, who owns this store, has had it for 15 years. I love going in there and always find stuff. She has a bunch of shoes and loves dresses.”
(434 Court St.)
“The owner actually does styling for movies. She has a bunch of fabric—I’ve covered a chair in her fabric.”
(117 Union St.)
“This is an antique and used furniture shop that my studio mates, fiancé, and I are all obsessed with and visit constantly. We’ve gotten pieces there for the apartment and the studio. They say that a truck arrives every Tuesday with more inventory.”
(428 Court St.)
Look for this sign for your caffeine fix.
9 Spots to Fill Your Belly With Amazingness
Court Street Grocers
“They make the best breakfast egg sandwich for $5.50. Plus, they have a bunch of funky groceries: spicy peanut butter, weird jams, Japanese mayo.”
(485 Court St.)
“My fiancé and I spend so much money here that we should own stock in the company.”
(288 Court St.)
“This place has been here since the forties and does old-school coffee. They make their own and roast it there. It has no style, which kind of makes it stylish.”
(309 Court St.)
Mazzola Bakery and Café
“We used to go late at night and buzz the doorbell. We would give the guy $5 for piping-hot bread and would put butter on it at home.”
(192 Union St.)
Carroll Gardens Fish Market
“This market is run by a super-cute Korean couple. It’s very clean, and the fish is beautiful.”
(359 Court St.)
“This Italian restaurant has been around for a hundred years. It’s a dinky place that you’d never normally go into, but they have this panelle sandwich—crushed chickpeas in a soft bun with ricotta—that’s delicious.”
(151 Union St.)
“They make my favorite pizza. They only serve pizza and calzones—there’s no dessert or appetizers. It is dark and cute and makes you feel like you’re in Italy. It’s constantly packed; as soon as it opens, there’s a line.”
(575 Henry St.)
“This restaurant is in an old flower shop on the side of a building—it’s a fish place run by a French guy who’s there every night. The food is simple and easy.”
(144 Union St.)
G. Esposito & Sons
“It’s basically an Italian specialty shop, family-owned. The sandwiches are completely and utterly delicious—the sweet sausage, broccoli rabe, and gorgonzola hero is one of my favorites—and are great to take in the car on a road trip or to the beach.”
(357 Court St.)
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Step Inside Bernice Kelly’s Homey Greenpoint Studio
Here’s to making the most of a chalkboard wall.
A good workspace—one with positive vibes that encourages productivity—is not so easy to come by. “I had been looking for studios for about a year when I fell in love with the old-style building and its view,” says Bernice Kelly of the rustic-yet-warm space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where she set up ops for her jewelry line Macha. We’ll let her show you around (and, if you want her to make your engagement ring or something, you can check out the spot in-person!). —alisha prakash
“This is a view from the door of the studio. I’m blessed to have such a big space to work in—and amazing assistants!”
“We painted a chalkboard on the wall of our showroom area. An artist friend, Matt Huynh, came by to visit one afternoon, and after I left him alone for ten minutes, the entire wall was covered with these incredible sketches.”
“I had this workbench custom-made for the space to encourage a collaborative environment. We all share ideas and inspiration and keep each other entertained.”
“We built this meeting table ourselves from reclaimed scaffolding. This is where we meet with clients and chat about our ideas.”
“We built shelves inside an old medicine cabinet to keep the fine jewelry collection safe.”
“What can I say!? We never tire of looking out the window. It’s the icing on the cake.”
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Head to the Valley of Ashes With Chen Chen and Kai Williams
Talk about an unlikely spot for inspiration.
All right, time to bust out your high-school copy of The Great Gatsby (or your Baz Luhrman DVD, no judgments), because that mythological Valley of Ashes? It’s a real place. In Queens. Chen Chen and Kai Williams, the guys behind the home-and-accessories line of the same name, sometimes make the trip to the spot—officially called Willet’s Point—to get a little perspective. “It’s crazy,” says Chen. “It’s seriously like a third-world country out there.” Go on a tour with him and see just what he means. —jane-claire quigley
“We discovered this neighborhood when we had our old van taken to a junkyard there, and we were immediately drawn to it. I think our underlying interest in Willet’s Point is that everyone there is making the best possible solutions to deal with scarcity of capital. There’s the right way to do something, and then there are ways that make do with what’s available. That thought process exists in all of our work.”
“You find all sorts of ad-hoc solutions people create out of necessity. Once we saw a man in a Dodge Caravan, side door open, with a shoe display inside, slowly cruising down the street, calling out to potential customers.”
“This image of the Cadillac in the mud is a common sight. The neighborhood isn’t hooked up to the plumbing system, so when it rains, these giant puddles form in the once-paved street. Each giant pothole becomes a small pond.”
“In general, I think it’s surprising for most people to find that a place like this exists in New York City, especially under the shadow of the brand-new Citi Field. Fitzgerald called it a Valley of Ashes, but at its very basic level, Willet’s Point is about being able to imbue something with value using your abilities. That’s pretty inspiring.”
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Seven Seriously Gripping Photos from Helen Levi’s Portfolio
This potter’s a master behind the lens, too.
Before Helen Levi started making ceramics—that kind that make us want to replace every cup and dish in our cupboards—she was a photographer who spent her time trailing volunteer firemen and breaking into abandoned mansions. “I learned photography in a wet darkroom, and I always worked with it that way—I never had a digital camera,” Helen explains. “I always appreciated the craft of it, and that’s what I love about ceramics, too. It’s a total craft.” Dive into some of her most stunning photos below. —caitlin petreycik
“This is from one of the buildings of the law department of the City of New York. When you think about cubicles, they’re very generic and nondescript. The way that people set them up to feel like home, or to feel a little more familiar, I find really intriguing.”
“This looks like it could be from any decade. The tear in the panel on the cubicle—why wouldn’t anyone have repaired that? I found the pink and the green and the blue so striking.”
“This is almost like an unfinished task. Like someone was about to bring that plant home, and put it up there and forgot about it. I like photographs that lead you to a narrative where maybe you’re not sure what happens.”
Mr. Bender’s Machines
“Mr. Bender was my neighbor when I lived in Queens after college. We grew very close because our buildings were right next to each other. He had this sweater-knitting factory that he inherited from his dad, and it’s been sitting there unused for like 10 or 15 years. He still—because it’s his routine—goes in, sweeps up, fusses around.”
“I met Mr. Bender because I was curious about the space, and he was like, ‘Do you know how to use computers? Do you know how to use eBay?’ He was trying to sell his machines. So I sold like 11 machines for him. This series documents our relationship and the process of moving out these big machines.”
“I had heard stories that Mike Tyson had a house in Ohio. I had read about it on different blogs, and I thought it was a great excuse to go break into a celebrity’s mansion. It was 2010 or 2011 when I was photographing it—the height of the housing-bubble collapse. There were all of these ridiculous opulent things just sitting there. It looks like there are live green plants by the indoor pool, but they’re actually fake. They’re all wilted, but they’re still bright green.”
“This room had a gold-paneled ceiling and matching gold curtains. That roll of toilet paper is not staged. I think there was a squatter living at the house.”
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Walk to Work with the Man Behind Workaday Handmade
And go ahead and grab a cup of coffee on the way.
When Workaday Handmade’s Forrest Lewinger needs inspiration, he forgoes traditional transportation and hoofs it across Brooklyn, from his Williamsburg home and his Bed-Stuy studio—a 30-minute stroll that always sparks something for the ceramicist. Here’s what he passes on his path from Leonard to Powers to Lorimer to Flushing. —jackie varriano
“Gimme is the first place I stop in the morning—for a cappuccino. Great coffee!”
“You will see a lot of these little vitrines and alters with saints or the Virgin Mary inside of them. I really love how outwardly decorative they can be around here. It’s not about taste or style but more about tradition and family.”
“When I am walking around the city, I’m looking for unexpected color combinations and patterns that may find their way into my work. There are a few patterns on my pots that have come directly from something I saw while walking around.”
“Going under the tracks at Lorimer and Broadway represents a big shift in not only cultural and religious communities but architecture as well. My studio is right in the middle of the largest Hasidic Jewish community in the world. It is a very autonomous community, with shops and places of gathering and worship. I love watching how the people connect to the city that surrounds them. ”
“Sometimes you really feel transported to another place and time in this area. I imagine that I could have seen the same scene 100 years ago.”
“When you walk through the ‘hood, you can really get lost in the details and juxtapositions of everyday objects and words and activity. It’s a mess—and that’s what I love about it and where I find inspiration. I look for the handmade wherever I can. Having something handmade, whether it’s a pot, some food, or a sign, gives the thing character even if it’s almost perfect.”
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Get a Load of the Communal Jewelry Studio Elizabeth Thompson Created
900 square feet just bursting with creativity.
“We are a tribe that sees the beauty in small things,” says Elizabeth Thompson, the hyper-talented jewelry designer behind Elizabeth Knight, of her clan of 13 like-minded makers at the open-24/7 workspace FluxWork Studio, which she founded in 2008 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What do you get if you’re part of Elizabeth’s posse? A bench—i.e., the jewelry-world equivalent of a cubicle—and access to come-one-come-all workspaces for tackling projects like grinding, polishing, and soldering. Go on—take a look around. —alisha prakash
“The studio in the morning. As you walk in, you can feel the calm and the potential in the air. Throughout the day, people come and go. Some days the studio is empty, and others people will be working through the night. I love the company of my studio mates—sharing ideas and tools. I also love these silent mornings accompanied by the unspoken magic in the room.”
“Many people don’t know jewelers’ benches are raised so that one can sit eye-level with their project. Making jewelry is a very close, intimate experience that requires an extreme eye for detail. Often I find that working in this way can be very meditative and calming. I love to work by my favorite window that gets the best sunlight throughout the day.”
“These are my girls. How I love them. On the left is Emma—who was an intern for the summer—working at the soldering table with my assistant, Nina, on the right.”
“In December, we had a wildly successful event with Jean-Noel from Top Notch Faceting and his partner, Dale. The pair came to New York to discuss the process of ethically mining stones in Africa and to present stunning stones cut by Jean himself. Jewelers from New York, Philadelphia, and across the East Coast came to FluxWork to hear Jean and Dale speak. It was a sincere pleasure to host these guys at the studio and was very rewarding to have the support from a wide community of jewelers.”
“One of my many boxes of treasures. Texture, color, and pattern from natural objects have always been my inspiration. You can find small collections, just like this, all around the studio.”
“Working at the soldering bench is always a thrill—the powerful rush from transforming and fusing metal can make a jeweler want to consider being an alchemist. We have a few different tank set-ups at FluxWork, providing different combinations of oxygen, acetylene, and propane gas. Each option allows us to control the heat and metal in a specific way.”
“This was an awesome find on Bedford Avenue! While meandering to the studio, I cruised a record selection laid out on the sidewalk. When I set my eyes on Patti, I knew I wasn’t going to leave her there—this is my very first Patti Smith record. Music is a big deal in the studio. When I am in the studio alone, I turn to my favorite music blog, Left As Rain.”
“This is the grinding wheel, the machine we use to take down large sprues from our castings. You must keep a focused eye on the wheel as it removes metal—and fingernails—very quickly. This is how I look when I am in the zone.”
Select photos courtesy of Jacob Pritchard.