With a foundation that was totally different than any other decorative arts dealer, Newel is about to experience a new and auspicious future. The present state of the industry is dicey at best, but as my grandfather who founded Newel would say, success is when “opportunity meets preparation.” Newel is now officially unshackled from its location at 425 East 53rd Street for the first time since 1969. It was a phenomenal run for four generations of the family (it all started on 2nd Ave. and 47th Street in 1939) but now is the time for a new chapter. A massive Long Island City warehouse and new showroom on East 61st Street will pivot us in a different direction.
The location of our building in New York City, a commercially zoned warehouse in a highly residential neighborhood, was difficult to attract clients to visit. It didn’t hurt the rental business, however selling has become a very difficult proposition in the world of decorative arts. If you think it is cheap now, think oil glut. Fine arts, they are the rage. How does it look; edgy? Its better if it goes on the wall, where mirrors, consoles, and wall sconces use to roam. Chairs, tables, and accessories now require a minimalism in a deference to the presentation of art.
If the present trend is any indication, taste is “less”. It’s less because the present state of exposure to the decorative arts has never been more marginalized. The Sotheby’s/Christie’s duopoly relegate it to a side show; what more do you have to understand? We need to educate the world what we do, what we sell, and why it is so much fun. Rich or poor, the knowledge and appreciation of quality and design is priceless. We love it at Newel and we desperately want to share it with anyone who cares to partake. We need to be a serious advocate for the decorative arts because so few are.
At Newel, we seem to have our hands in many areas where the decorative and fine arts live harmoniously. Selling to interior designers who have the temperament to deal with clients that seem to know more than they do, is a daunting position for everyone. Having a set decorator put together a room for a TV show in a matter of hours is even more impressive. While watching a motion picture production, the set is so seamless to the action; it’s brilliant! Why not for your home, apartment, or office? It can and should change as easily as you want it too, (if you can afford it).
Newel is all about change and being part of how residential and visual design should evolve. We understand the past and appreciate the foundation and evolution of cultures and the value they placed in creating decorative and functional objects. We have an obligation to show our items anywhere that they will be noticed and create a sense of “wow”. It’s not really that hard when there are so many who have never had any appreciation of what it is. For Newel and the decorative arts industry to flourish, we need to be not only educators, but be more approachable to a new, young generation that has no idea we exist.