December 23, 2015
These pedestals are by a designer out of Italy, says Cole. This wood is a beautiful element from nature, but reshaped and reformed.
A beautiful old pedestal paired with an incredibly modern crisp option, with a white powder coat shiny finish.
Opaque Venetian glass chandelier from Murano
Vintage American industrial chairs
Graham Head and Paulette Cole with ABC Carpet rugs in ikat patterns that were reworked and recolored
Matt Falcone with vintage American industrial chairs. The lighting, by a company called Roost, is “almost industrial-looking, but quite modern,” says Falcone.
Cole loves gold-leaf mirrors, vintage gold patinas and the peeling effect that age brings
Paulette Cole and Deepak Chopra. This month ABC will host “Love in Action,” in which Chopra has intimate conversations with celebrities about their cause-related passions
Tord Boontje Nest armchairs from Moroso
|A Jim Denny table laden with porcelain dishes by Jan Burtz in ABC Kitchen. A handblown Murano glass chandelier hangs above.|
Most retailers will claim their goods are beautiful, but under the stewardship of Paulette Cole, the pursuit of beauty has a higher purpose. For Cole, the CEO and creative director of ABC Home, thoughtful acquisitions are a gateway to self-expression, increased well-being and an enhanced awareness of one’s values. “We never decided that we’re about home furnishings,” she says. “We’re about loving.”
Guided by this principle, Cole and her creative team have filled the iconic six-story Manhattan outlet with an exquisite mix of furniture, textiles, home wares, rugs and gifts, with an emphasis on artisanship, indigenous cultures and responsible sourcing. Across the road is the associated ABC Carpet, a New York institution established in its Broadway location by Cole’s father in 1961. Graham Head, vice chairman of ABC Carpet, agrees the business is built around passion. “We make a continuous effort to instill our values into our customers and encourage them to make a selection based on emotion and their genuine appreciation for the carpet,” he says. “‘Collect, don’t decorate,’ as we often say.”
“We’re very meticulous about getting around the world and bringing back the most extraordinary things,” says Cole. “We fall in love with them ourselves.” Vintage items are sold alongside work by local artisans and wares from the most remote corners of the globe, while ABC Kitchen sustains diners with locally sourced and organic farm-totable fare. So unique is the retail space, it is more often described as being like a museum or a sanctuary than a department store. “I feel like when you come to ABC, you’re inspired,” says Cole. “It’s recharging, it’s reconnecting.”
The ABCs of ABC Home
Parts of the store are sometimes commandeered by large-scale events. For “Gateway to India,” 10 containers of goods were shipped from South Asia, an entire wall was covered in marigolds and a month-long program of exhibitions, lectures and performances was staged. On another occasion, a giant red tent was erected on a furnishing floor and filled with afghan rugs, to provide a sacred space for women. While the exercise was something of a headache for Cole’s CFO, she insists on the importance of community building. “Women would be in the middle of our retail store, brushing each other’s hair and meditating, learning,” says Cole. “By the end of six weeks, we had 300 women belly dancing at ABC, while other women were shopping for couches.”
The store also hosts a permanent Deepak HomeBase space, hosted by Cole’s longtime friend Deepak Chopra. “Wisdom is part of how we feed ourselves from the inside,” says Cole. This month Chopra will host a series of in-store conversations with celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Russell Simmons, Fran Drescher and Ian Somerhalder called “Love in Action,” in which the stars discuss their deep passions for various causes. Cole expects many of the brand’s priorities to resonate with Hamptons residents: well-informed clients who value good health and the environment. “I’m so passionate about the ocean and beach,” she says.
Faced with the overwhelming selection available at ABC, Matt Falcone, the store’s personal shopper, plays a helpful role as a “leveler.” He enjoys collaborating with and guiding his clients, noting that design literacy is at an all-time high. It is only natural, he says, given the renewed interest in creating a domestic sanctuary—a side effect of the recession, which saw more people “staycationing” and wanting to make their homes a “sacred space.” For seaside abodes, he favors modern elements to contrast the primitive backdrop of ocean and beach. “To me, modern is really like the idea of bringing the outside in,” he says. (Think Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater or the simple, airy forms of midcentury Danish design.) Falcone also points out ABC Carpet’s innovative Colour Reform collection, vintage rugs salvaged and overdyed in vibrant colors to give them new life, as appealing to customers with concerns about sustainability.
According to Cole, what is most important is that your home act as a mirror of your vision and values. “We are about that soulful expression, rather than the commodities of furniture or the straight lines.”