Jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning started dreaming of a New York flagship five short years—or, by NYC standards, a millennium—ago. It took nearly two years of active searching before Manning even found the future home of her brand, 12 Wooster Street. "The space was authentic and untouched," she recalls of the hulking loft. "I could immediately see endless possibilities for a unique creative process." Click here to view all of the before and after photos.
Tackling a historical renovation is one thing, but doing it at this scale was decidedly ambitious. Manning brought on Jeremy Barbour of TackleBox Architecture and Tony Carney of Gauge Contracting to build out the space, working to elevate the design of the original structure while respecting and retaining the history of the building. "We took it step by step and proceeded intentionally with everything we did," says Manning. "Jeremy and I were on site once or twice a week discussing our plan and how we would move forward. Our design philosophy was centered on restoration, and we used original elements wherever we could in the build out."
Dating back to the 1880s, 12 Wooster started life as Durbrow & Hearne, a needle and sewing machine factory that served New York's once-bustling garment district. (The original signage is one of Manning's prized possessions.) "Working in fashion coupled with the fact that my great grandmother led one of the first strikes in the garment district means that I have a strong connection here," says Manning. "For me, it’s an authentic reflection of who I am as a designer." After the factory closed, the building was sold to James Dee, a fine art photographer who processed film on-site. "You can feel the history of creativity and activism in the space," says Manning. "There are relics wherever you look."
Reclaimed materials became a key design element for Manning and Barbour. "When looking to incorporate salvaged items into a home or commercial space, I recommend thinking beyond their original use," suggests Manning. "Industrial objects are inherently beautiful. Seeing beyond purpose and recognizing the beauty of [an object's] design can allow for an incredible space." The kitchen is a perfect example of the team's ingenuity. Working with contractor Carney, Manning made use of the original 1880s cast iron sink and stabilized a collection of antique machine drawers to serve as the kitchen island, while salvaged wood siding was repurposed as cabinetry fronts. "My favorite item in the store is a lathe that we turned into a lamp," shares Manning. "I happened to be looking at it with Tony and we turned it on its side. All of a sudden I saw it from a new perspective and immediately knew it would make an amazing light piece."
The space now serves as the perfect showcase for the Melissa Joy Manning aesthetic, reflecting its core values of sustainability and craft through form and function. "I wanted to create an atmosphere where customers could linger and engage with the brand on a truly authentic and holistic level," says Manning. "Every single piece has a history here, and all of us love talking about it—and our customers seem to love it too!"