Home goods designer Michele Varian opened her eponymous store quietly in Brooklyn last month, after shuttering her popular Soho shop. The Atlantic Avenue store sells Varian’s own line of lighting, furniture, wallpaper and pillows, as well as artisanal products from about 100 other home designers and 70 jewelers.
“A lot of people come here very specifically for Michele Varian products,” Varian said. “But, also, we’re known as a place that has a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces a lot of emerging designers, and I really, really aspire to find pieces that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”
Varian, who studied fashion design, started her home goods company in 1999, making pillows and selling them at trade shows. She opened her first store in SoHo in 2001.
“I decided to do home goods because it was something I could self-finance,” she said. “Every pillow cover fits a pillow, whereas getting a garment to fit a human being is many thousands of dollars per style.”
She still sells the pillows, which are printed locally and stitched at her workshop below the store. Her wallpapers are screen-printed in Hoboken, and her UL-certified lighting is also made in-house.
Prices range from under $50 for small items such as wall hooks, hardware, and ceramics, to $9,800 for a custom wood table co-designed by Varian and Brooklyn maker Allison Samuels of Two Trees Studios. Her life-sized cast iron pigeons, which have become a signature item, run $45.
“One of the things that I try to cultivate is to be not only aspirational but accessible at the same time,” Varian said. “We try to have a fair number of things that are under $50.”
Varian spent nearly two decades in SoHo as her fellow artisans and shop owners, and even her customers, were priced out of the neighborhood. She followed many of them to Brooklyn.
“I really wanted to move back into what was more of a residential neighborhood,” she said. “I moved to Brooklyn because people who had been my regulars would come into SoHo on a destination trip and say ‘I’m so sorry we don’t get to see you anymore because we now live in Brooklyn.’ And my own social circle was in Brooklyn.”
“I Knew about half a dozen business owners on this block which I hadn’t even realized,” she said. “I’m really happy that I moved here. It’s good on so many levels. My people are here. It’s been so gratifying – it’s almost like a mini reunion.
[Photos by Susan De Vries]
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