January 9, 2019
With a beautiful showroom at Kew’s 255 Fifth Avenue building, Ernest is a dynamic collective that offers the most inspiring Belgian-European architecture and design brands to North American architects and designers. The company has built its business on its core values of personal responsibility and a down-to-earth attitude. Co-founder and partner Thierry Herbert explained that the very name of the company was chosen to underscore these special qualities. He said that a leading interior designer commented to him that it was wonderful doing business with the firm, because it was so “earnest.” We think it fits the company so well that management adopted it as the firm’s corporate name.
Ernest Looks for Specific Characteristics in Choosing Products to Import
In crafting its portfolio, Ernest first and foremost only presents products that will be exclusively available through them — these are not products you will find elsewhere in North America. They must also have several key qualities:
- Be more architectural than simply “decorative.”
- Have a design that can be characterized as clean, timeless, and forward-thinking.
- Be a medium to high-end quality product that is well-made.
- Offers longevity both in design aesthetic and construction.
- Be manufactured as a sustainable product using sustainable means.
Ernest Customers Have a Special Perspective
Herbert described Ernest’s clients like this: they are “people who are generally internationally driven, who like architecture and culture, who value quality, longevity, sustainability, and consider the evolution of product development.” He also noted that they have “a certain partiality to imported goods and materials — those that are not be as accessible and as common as local products.”
The problem of course is that not everyone understands that investing in a better product pays off multifold as time goes by. Herbert quoted Ben Franklin: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.“ He also referenced the story of The Three Little Pigs —”the first two build their homes out of lesser materials and make fun of the third for working so hard, but of course, in the end, the one made of the strongest materials is the only one to survive.” It’s amazing how many people don’t learn that childhood lesson. However, it’s the people who did learn it who are Ernest clients.
Offering Four Broad Product Lines
The company offers a huge range of products covering four main categories: furniture, lighting, architectural products and materials.
1. Furniture — Ernest offers furniture from Royal Botania, which has earned an acclaimed worldwide reputation for creating a refined and diverse choice of outdoor furnishings, engineered to offer a perfect blend of precision, functionality and sustainability.
2. Lighting — Ernest represents Delta Light, a Belgian family business, which creates innovative lighting designs recognized throughout the world for their subtle blend of ambiance, elegance, and functionality, both in interior and exterior lighting. Besides, individual products, Ernest also handles Delta Lighting projects for small- and large-scale houses, hotels, offices, public buildings, retail and hospitality environments.
3. Architectural Products — Renson is a Belgian family business creating healthy spaces with innovations in ventilation, sun protection, and terrace coverings. Renson products focus on sustainable energy efficiency, acoustics, and design in creating systems for homes, apartments, offices and healthcare facilities.
4. Materials — In Ernest’s showroom you can see a broad range of building materials, including reclaimed wood, tile, and carpet flooring.
A Must Visit Engaging Showroom at 255 Fifth
Ernest’s showroom reflects the firm’s vision. It is set up to act as a one-stop shop for developers, specifiers, architects, designers, and individuals seeking design-focused, residential and commercial furnishings suitable for both indoors and outdoors. The showroom is divided into different spaces – a living room/lounge, kitchen, dining room, outdoor furniture area, and bathroom – all using Ernest’s products, so that buyers can see, feel, and experience products in situ. Herbert stressed, “We want designers to come here and see the full range of how we can work.
As a means of promoting dialog, with the New York design community, Ernest uses the space to play host to multidisciplinary cultural and social experiences such as screenings and social events throughout the year. To make the space exciting and flexible to accommodate these events, it is cutting edge, with experimental creations; drop-down media screens, adjustable LED lighting solutions and retractable privacy screens. (It’s also stocked with Belgian treats so you can get a literal taste of Belgium while you’re there too! We told you it was a great, inviting space as well as a great resource.)
“Through our strong brand partnerships, we have been able to offer a rich and distinctive collection of inspiring Belgian-European products. We wanted to build on that successful base and enhance it with a fresh new name and concept that is emblematic of our shared philosophy.”
He notes that there have been some barriers, which are changing. Europe has been much more forward-thinking in terms of sustainability, but America is catching up and that is good for Ernest. Not only do Ernest products offer longevity — they are meant to last, but are produced with the environment in mind. That is becoming more and more important in America, and Ernest is well positioned for the future in this regard.
The company approach to showing products in use also helps. The company’s showroom parties have been a great success, not only in terms of business but also in terms of creating a forum for discussion and synergies among members of the design community. So to, its Ernest Cabin, outside the main entrance of the Architectural Digest Design show in 2017, and its mini-house have proved great venues for attracting audiences and showing Ernest products effectively. Both have helped designers and architects see many Ernest products at once and in use.
Ernest and NoMad
Ernest has been a Kew tenant here in the NoMad area for almost three years now. Herbert describes NoMad as “a perfect area for architectural design,” “a central location for business,” and “very alive and thriving.”
Herbert pointed out that there are also some very talented furniture, lighting, and architectural designers whose creations are on display in showrooms here in NoMad. It wasn’t like that a few years ago, but the changes have been significant — it went from “no man’s land to NoMad.”
Blue Dot, Liaigre, Jung Lee, Porcelanosa, Marimekko, Archlinea, ddc, and Natuzzi, are just a handful of the many firms catering to the interior design and architectural professionals that have located in NoMad, making the area a center for people interested in finding the ideal solutions for their projects. That puts Ernest in the center of New York City’s newest design center.
Thierry Herbert especially welcomes Kew’s architect and interior designer tenants to call upon him and visit the showroom just a few blocks away — there is a lot to see and learn that may be useful in your next project.
255 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor (between 28th & 29th Streets)
New York NY 10016
Monday through Friday: 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.