Irwin Weiner -- I never fully understood the term business development until I made a field trip this past week. I went to the New York Times’ Taste of T event at the Architects and Designers Building, a.k.a. the A&D Building, at 150 East 58th Street.
The event was a brilliant idea. The Times hosts a fun and delicious event that raises money for a wonderful New York charity. At the same time, it promotes the A&D building as a designer resource, and showcases the individual showrooms, restaurants, and chefs.
Now that’s business development, a creative alignment of business activities that produces a new sum-is-greater-than-the-parts thingie. And you would have loved this Taste of T thingie!
The designers and industry people attending the event were treated to great food and drink, and I enjoyed a relaxing visit to this well-known interior design destination. It was a thrill to see culinary stars that included Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns (left) and Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin (right).
Although my office is in walking distance from East 58th Street, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m always too rushed to appreciate the A&D’s many new showrooms and their great lines. And I know I’ve missed out on a lot. As much as I love the Internet, seeing an actual product is so much more meaningful than seeing an image. The custom and unique aspects of the many items shown, such as antique tiles and accessories, are often not shown on a vendor’s website. It’s just too expensive to keep up with cataloging everything new that comes in, unlike the more mass produced, mass market items one sees in typical mid-range Internet catalogs for furnishings.
The A&D Building traditionally was home to mainly kitchen companies. It was so much so, in fact, that the site was casually referred to as the Kitchen Building. The more expensive Design & Decoration or D&D Building, just a block away, was always the more prestigious resource center. The A&D was very much the Cinderella of the area. The expensive rentals in the D&D made it prohibitive for most furniture showrooms to rent there as the floor space is terribly expensive. One can see dozens of fabric choices in the square footage needed to show a single piece of furniture in the D&D.
The A&D has recently welcomed some inspiring new tenants, drawn by a combination of attractive space and rents.
Homer Furniture, the showroom of the designer, Richard Mishaan, has stylish and contemporary lines.
Stylish and contemporary furniture also complements the line I saw at the more streamlined and edgy B&B Italia (chairs, right).
The colonially-inspired furniture of Robert Lighton, formally British Khaki, is elegant and classic. Lighton has also designed a line of gorgeous watches that are featured on his website and displayed in the showroom. Interestingly, his showroom was previously a retail store in Soho. He’s chosen to transfer to a building that, although open to the public, is generally considered a designer “trade” building.
As much as I understand the business development, or biz dev, aspect of the Taste of T event, it was more my personal design development -- can I say des dev -- that made the event so wonderful for me.
My personal development increased as I walked through the new showrooms, admired the exciting finds, and enjoyed great food (the appetizers served in bird shell halves were rarified and exceptional).
If you can’t get to the A&D Building, then try accessing the showrooms and their websites through the A&D portal. Start by looking at their tempting Photo Gallery.
Web surfing won’t be the real deal like my recent field trip. But, like good food, it will make you want more. The A&D is definitely worth a visit.