September 15, 2023
Host of The Grand Tourist podcast, Dan Rubinstein, gets a cheat sheet on the best sources, underrated museums, galleries, and places to have a power lunch that Gotham has to offer from this dynamic designer.
It takes a lot of talent and perseverance to make it in New York as a designer, but I believe it takes real grit for someone who's originally from the city to overcome the odds. And not just survive, but thrive.
Danielle Colding is one of these designers. Born and bred in the neighborhood of Queens Village, she fell into her chosen creative career after a very unlikely origin story for the city: after meditating on a beach in Brazil. She started her life with a creative childhood in a diverse, middle class area of town, studied at Stanford and became a teacher and practiced modern dance.
But after her encounter with enlightenment she moved back to New York and eventually opened her own practice in 2007. "I create spaces that are meaningful and reflect your life," she says about her work. "They need to feel good to be in."
Today her interiors are just as eclectic and vibrant as the city she calls home and won't ever quit, even if she enjoys the unofficial pastime of all real New Yorkers -- dreaming about living somewhere else. But the town's dynamism keeps pulling her back in. "It's just an amazing city. You have to leave all the time, but I love my community," she says. "There's no place like it.
In her projects -- which have garnered her a spot on the Elle Decor A-List since 20TK—you'll find bold, sophisticated colors and a mix of styles and periods, unafraid to put bold, geometric patterns next to mural-like wallpaper or subtle neutral tones with tactile lighting and accessories from brass chandeliers to expressive ceramics and art.
Like any street scene in New York, it's all about a mix of everything that never, ever gets boring. "My job is to figure out my client's style and elevate it. It's about eclecticism and color, and a comfort level, too. It's a multicultural lens too, but never stuffy."
Here are Danielle Colding's time-tested and streetwise tips for your next trip to The Big Apple:
New York has most everything imaginable when it comes to creating interiors, but a few spots have made a lasting impression on her. The showroom of Christopher Farr has an incredible collection of rugs, including the collaborations between the brand and Studio Shamshiri in bold, autumnal colors and even animal motifs. For pure inspiration, Colding suggests a trip to the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market to find African crafts and products from clothing and textiles to accessories. "It's a place you go to if you want to funk it up a little bit," she says, "and you want something West African, which I always think works really well in a modern space." For utterly original lighting, she suggests Chinatown's Blue Green Works by creative director Peter B. Staple that carries contemporary creations that pull from a variety of American vintage references. And to find organic-feeling furnishings with Modernist lines, Radnor's by-appointment showroom in a 4,000-square-foot apartment.
Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market
Colding reminds her friends who are visiting New York to see the often-overlooked Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. "Their exhibits are amazing, and of course design-centric and kind of cerebral, which I appreciate," she says. And while everyone knows the Whitney museum for American art, Colding always combines it with a walk uptown on The High Line to take in nature, sculpture, and architecture at the same time. And for those looking for contemporary culture, she suggests the International Center of Photography (ICP) that's downtown on Essex Street, that's equally known for its exhibitions as it is for the classes they offer on the artform.
You can leave the private clubs to London and the sidewalk cafes to Paris: New York is all about the power lunch. For those meeting a client on a break from his or her Wall Street job, Colding suggests a cocktail at The Beekman Hotel, followed by lunch at chef Daniel Boulud's Le Gratin that serves traditional Lyonnais cuisine in a classic setting. "It's just epic," she says. When she wants to wow out-of-towners, she might take them to a below-the-radar Korean eatery in midtown called Her Name is Han, where the setting and food is "more restrained" than its ultra-packed, popular neighbors. For something in Brooklyn, Colding suggests the One Hotel in Dumbo, where views of the Manhattan Bridge are all the inspiration required to get a deal signed.
More than any other American city, New York remains the collecting capital. Dobrinka Salzman, who sells a unique mix of art and furniture, gets a resounding "love, love, love" from Colding. While most of the wares are midcentury modern, she especially loves the lighting sculptures by Christopher Baker. For highly contemporary, colorful, art from emerging talents that she often sources for projects, Colding suggests Uprise Art's showroom on Canal Street. And while the interiors and product powerhouse firm Roman and Williams might be a competitor of sorts, she loves the curatorial eye of the firm's art gallery in downtown Manhattan. "Their works have longevity," she says, noting how the gallery's pieces are both trendy and timeless at the same time. "They thread the needle very well."
Uprise Art Gallery
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