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Meet the NYC Shop Owners Setting Trends Amidst the Pandemic

Meet the NYC Shop Owners Setting Trends Amidst the Pandemic


On Moore Street in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a stretch chockablock with butchers, barber 
shops, and bodegas, Jared Blake (near right) and Ed Be can be found selling Eames icons, classic Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designs for Knoll, and $3 cups of coffee. “It disarms people from feeling intimidated,” Blake says about their in-store café, a key component of the Lichen equation since they first opened in a former deli eight blocks away three years ago. (Their second location, a.k.a. Big Lichen, pictured, debuted last June.) Blake and Be conduct most of their business in person—though they do list items on Instagram—and urge visitors to touch or sit on the merch, even in the cases of rare finds like a Robert Venturi Chippendale chair or Piero Palange and Werther Toffoloni’s G23 Hoop lounge. Sourced from Craigslist (the two met on the platform when Blake sold Be a yellow Eames chair) or at auction, such pedigreed pieces mix right in with contemporary designs from the likes of Nigerian talent Nmbello Studio and Brooklyn ceramist Mariana Silva. Recently, Blake and Be have added designs of their own: a birch coffee table and a scaled-up version for dining. “It’s a crowdsourced table,” Blake explains of the simple silhouette, which was developed around frequent client requests. “You just don’t find these dimensions on Craigslist.” lichennyc.com


When a shop owner in the East Village told Clare Louise Frost (far left) and Elizabeth 
Hewitt about a great space nearby for rent, the designers thought about spreading the word. But after visiting the small storefront, these longtime friends, who first met while living in Istanbul, both uttered her sey tamam, a common Turkish phrase meaning something along the lines of “this is good.” So they signed the lease themselves, filling the skinny jewel box with things that also fit that description: textiles from Central Asia, Turkey, and Northwest India, a cache of antiques, dashing rugs by Turkish singer Zeki Müren, and their own line of ceramics (made in Turkey and inspired by 17th-century Ottoman motifs). Dealing in such items is nothing new for the duo or their third partner, Hüseyin Kaplan. Frost has an eponymous fabric line; Hewitt is behind the brand Tulu Textiles; and Kaplan owns two shops in Turkey. Still, they didn’t realize quite the impact a Manhattan boutique could have in terms of exposure. As Frost explains, “Even if people don’t walk in, its existence makes it real for people.” shop-tamam.com

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