x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Cutting edge designs that morph with time

Some critics tout Moss as the finest design store in the world.

Franklin Getchell (above) and Murray Moss have turned their store Moss into one of the most talked about design stores in the world.
Franklin Getchell (above) and Murray Moss have turned their store Moss into one of the most talked about design stores in the world.

Walk into the chic design boutique that is New York City's Moss and you would be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu. You might feel like you're visiting the city's freshly renovated Museum of Modern Art, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Moss's sleek interior. The similarity has not gone unnoticed by major media, such as Vanity Fair. Ironically, when the store's owners opened back in 1994, they'd borrowed from the old MoMA. How things have changed since those salad days when Murray Moss and partner Franklin Getchell decided to sell the latest in industrial designs for the home.

"There was some back and forth," says Getchell. "But we take the position that our collection is superior to MoMA's design collection." Getchell's confidence is testament to Moss's current standing within the world of contemporary art and design. The International Herald Tribune design critic Alice Rawsthorn last year touted Moss as the finest design store in the world. In the last four years, the store has expanded to include limited edition design art commissions from some of the world's top designers among its collection. Many of their designs are not sold anywhere else in the US.

"We've stayed one step ahead by constantly evolving," says Getchell. "We morph all the time into a position in the market where we are unique." Moss and Getchell have spent their lives evolving. The duo met when they worked as stage actors. Moss went on to found a fashion label; Getchell became a television producer. After spending so much time in Europe, Moss discovered an untapped market for industrial design in the US. His partner Getchell gave up his producer job and joined him in operating their store, Moss, four years later.

"His idea was to start a company with the goal of creating awareness of individual designers, and to make them as much household names as the fashion designers," says Getchell. But the owners are more than cutting edge entrepreneurs. They are themselves designers with a keen eye for interior design. The Soho store has been made so that the bulk of its objects are behind glass cabinets, out of view from the street front so that passersby must come in to see. Its rooms are large with high ceilings and painted wood floors. At the extra long counters there are the latest in Mac computers and stylishly dressed store clerks.

The soft strains of the Charlie Brown theme song played over the store's speakers the day this reporter visited. White walls offset striking chandeliers from the Swarovski Crystal Palace collection and Maarten Baas's brightly coloured, one-of-a-kind clay furniture. One of the priciest and most unique items, however, is not on display. It is a five-piece bronze cast suite from Studio Job's Robber Baron furnishings collection, and some of the pieces are gilded with gold. The suite, considered historically important to modern design, includes cabinet, mantel clock, table, standing lamp and jewel safe. It is priced at $1.2 million US (Dh4.4m).

But the store has expanded beyond New York's Soho. Around the corner from Moss is Centovini, the sleek Italian restaurant co-created and designed by Murray Moss, who adorned the space with gems such as the Swarovski chandelier of grape clusters. Getchell and Moss recently opened their second Los Angeles store. It is inside Sam Nazarian's Beverly Hills-based SLS Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck. But Moss gets most of its exposure when it exhibits its exclusive designs at art fairs in Miami and Basel, Switzerland. "About half our client base is not from New York," says Getchell. "And half of that half is from out of the country."

Getchell says they have plans to visit Dubai in March to negotiate a possible partnership with a businessman there who is interested in art design. "We have business acquaintances there," he explains. "It seems remote that Moss would show up in the Middle East too soon. But it's a client base that we're interested in meeting." - 212 204 7100, www.mossonline.com * Kerry Gold