September 18, 2019
We did a feature profile of ArtStar in October of last year. If you haven’t read it, you might want to check it out. Recently, we made a follow-up visit to ArtStar and a lot has happened since October. We discussed ArtStar’s growth, its brilliant new showroom and how the space is helping business. We’ll cover these in Part I.
We also took a look at how the business is evolving, the importance of personal interaction with clients, and the collaboration opportunities ArtStar has found in the Townsend and St. James. We’ll cover these in Part II.
ArtStar’s Founding and Early Growth
You’ll recall that Chrissy Crawford Corredor founded ArtStar in 2010 to make high-quality art accessible for young, new collectors. She saw there was “a gap in the market between poster-based wall décor and blue-chip fine art,” and in response, she started ArtStar as a pioneering source for contemporary art in that niche. ArtStar’s story from there has been one of increasing success, likely due in part to the founder’s wonderful openness but also very smart planning and positioning.
The company was originally operating on the Lower East Side. The staff loved the space there, but the firm had outgrown the area. Chrissy told us “We wanted to be closer to interior designers, so we felt that the NoMad neighborhood solved that issue. It’s right by the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington, a ton of our clients have offices in this area, and it’s close to other showrooms—so we just thought this was the perfect spot.” ArtStar moved into a 600-square foot space on the 10th Floor St. James building in June of 2018 and found that some designers the firm had worked with before had their offices in the building. Chrissy said, “You see people in the elevator all the time that you’ve worked with.”
A Move Up
ArtStar’s business continued to grow, and the company needed a space where it could host designers and show off more of its collection. Chrissy was very happy with the ease of the transition, “The building has been incredibly flexible in terms of changing space within the building. For me, I’m less afraid to commit if I know that I can go up or down in space without a hassle.” So, in January of 2019, ArtStar doubled its footprint and signed the lease on a new 1,200-square foot space on the Third Floor of the St. James Building.
However, the move wasn’t just about more space. Chrissy wanted to change the entire experience. Having worked with kinderMODERN, which has offices on the 16th Floor of the St. James, ArtStar hired the firm to help design the new space, “because we wanted it to be functional but really playful, and kinderMODERN is great at both of those things.”
While the office design is driven by functionality, it’s handsome, light, open and welcoming. Without physical barriers, the office is divided into three spheres of activity: an entrance/lounge area, a meeting/conference area, and the working area of the staff. Fully open, the office can flow and integrate organically. It’s a great example for other tenants who have considered thinking about their office spaces more strategically and possible solutions ingeniously.
Here ArtStar can host people and have coffee or drinks. It is a great space for designers who want to come in for a happy hour or to bring in a client and sit down comfortably and learn about ArtStar. Upbeat furniture sourced by kinderMODERN, and a fun, custom cocktail table by Concrete Cat make the area relaxing and lively. Chrissy mentioned, “Concrete Cat is another company we couldn’t have found on our own. kinderMODERN brought them to us. They’re out of Toronto, and you can pick your pallet, and they make tons of fun concrete stuff. They’re completely wild, and it’s so fun.”
Besides making clients feel at home, the lounge area also provides the opportunity for ArtStar to display its latest finds. “The Wall” in the lounge area changes every two months or so to highlight the season and new trends. While Chrissy had planned to do this seasonally, the firm is doing it faster than that, because the works are selling off the wall.
At the time we visited, Chrissy described The Wall as it was then constituted. “This is our summer look, and these are new artists that we’re working with. We wanted to do a lot of soft clouds, sunsets, beach themes, and bathing suits. For example, here we have a piece showing a new condo on a beach in Spain. Over there on the top left, there is a new Italian artist we’re working with. She’s out of Sicily, so we have the little girls in the bathing suits with ice-cream, and she also did the girls in the helmets who are also in swimsuits. She shoots for Vogue Italia and a bunch of great publications. The pictures are kind of sexy, but you can tell they’re shot by a woman. They’re not overtly sexy; they’re playful. We were going for a summer vibe.”
Aside from The Wall, there is a creative corner just as you enter the office. ArtStar changes it over once a quarter, and it is dedicated to new featured artists. Chrissy explained, “Right now we’re featuring two artists that have collaborated called Robyn Blair and Name Glo. Both of their work was just featured in Architectural Digest. We did a collaboration with them, and they’re going to be collaborating with Bergdorf’s in February: they’re going to take over the Bergdorf store. We launched them with that collaboration. I don’t know who our next artist is going to be, but we are getting ready soon to change it over. Then, when we change it over, we’ll do an open house cocktail party for the building.
Across the room is a welcoming conference area, where the light and art continue. If a designer wants to come in and lay out blueprints, and see the samples that ArtStar has stored at the office, the ArtStar staff makes the conference table its workstation. It is convenient because we can look at plans and pull samples of art, frames, and mats right from the adjoining wall unit, and then, we can start to specify orders. This is a great area to host the client who wants to come in and get work completed.
Chrissy was particularly proud, as she should be, of the cunning wall unit kinderMODERN designed for sample storage. The outside presents a beautiful, clean, modern cabinet. However, once the doors are opened, various sized drawers are revealed that are custom-made for matts, frames, prints, and so forth. The storage unit is free-standing and comes apart. It’s totally flexible and like the rest of the ArtStar office it is designed with growth and adaptability in mind. The wall unit is actually six different cabinets from Ikea beautifully enveloped in the case built by Reform, yet another kinderMODERN recommendation. Reform is out of Brooklyn and specializes in making custom facades for Ikea cabinets. Chrissy noted that “You can do different finishes, and they’re very high-end. We did a pink-nude finish, and we love them. It all comes apart; everything comes off, so it’s not a commitment forever.”
Staff Working Area
Then the third part of our showroom is the team’s desks, which are integrated around the conference area. The space isn’t confined so ArtStar can reapportion it as needed, if there is a new employee to be accommodated.
ArtStar’s Appreciation of the Importance of a Welcoming Space
Chrissy told us, “What we find is, unless we have a personal connection, we don’t really get the principals in here, but we do get the junior designers. They love a free lunch, and they love a free drink. They’re the ones that are open to new resources. The principals have their people they’ve worked with for years, but the younger designers are the ones that will say, ‘Okay, let’s try a new vendor. I found this; I was out, and I found that.’ Working with the juniors is really helpful for us. They’re more open to our pitch.”
On entering the space, one gets a sense of how successful Chrissy has been in creating a place where you want to be and where you want to come back to; and she is always looking for new ways to use it to broaden her community. “We try to use the space for happy hours, and we’re having a dinner party in here for our top designers—we just try to think of different ways to utilize the space.“
1133 Broadway, Suite 314
New York, NY 10010|