New York's Best Spaces for Modern Industrial Design

Today's urban designers are loving this rough, raw, down-to-earth aesthetic. Peek inside New York's hottest rustic, modern industrial restaurants, hotels and stores.

  • Schiller's Exterior

    Welcome to the Industrial Age

    While many of us now work far from a factory floor, assembly line or loading dock, today's designers are loving this rough, raw, down-to-earth aesthetic more often associated with denim coveralls and lunch buckets than a showroom or shop window.

  • Schiller's Bar

    Welcome to the Industrial Age

    With its distinctive use of designs and machinery manufactured for hard-wearing utility — like an enameled metal hanging barn lamp or a wire-caged marine light — this aesthetic offers an intriguing mix of materials: raw wood, copper, brass or wire mesh, leather, suede, linen and metals used for tables, chairs, lighting and accessories.

    Colors are consistently calm, clean and neutral: the black of casement window muntins and machine parts, the gray sheen of aluminum and steel, the creamy white of subway tile and the weathered taupe of worn floorboards.

  • All Saints Shoe Decor

    Repurposing

    British retailer Allsaints has 14 stores in the U.S. This one, at 512 Broadway in New York City, uses hundreds of wooden lasts, once used to make shoes, as the backdrop to their shoe department. It's a nice reminder of how shoes were historically made — and how shoemakers copied the human form. Even such simple objects, en masse, can have real design impact.

  • Belt Display With Ladder

    Repurposing

    A simple, great-looking and practical choice is shown here at Onassis, a men's clothing store in Soho, N.Y. A weathered wooden ladder is both visually interesting and useful for hanging or displaying clothing, towels, even newspapers or magazines. Light and portable, wooden ladders can be found through a number of online sources at affordable prices (some go for as little as $40).

  • Table Made of Planks of Wood

    Repurposing

    This display table, in the Frye flagship store in Soho, N.Y., re-envisions wood in its raw form. It's not a smooth, gleaming tabletop as we'd typically expect in a retail environment, but it uses the graphic impact of the color, grain and material itself. Imagine the possibilities of dark, dramatic woods like mahogany, a pale choice like ash or maple, or the warmth of cherry.

  • Exposed-Bulb Chandelier

    Lighting

    This spiky, spidery chandelier hangs in the business lounge of the James Hotel, offering guests an unusually airy aerie high above Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. Unlike most dreary and predictable hotel business centers, this lounge offers great views, lots of natural light and a lighting fixture that echoes its quirky, off-beat style. The hotel itself sits on the former site of a well-known diner, The Moondance, which appeared in episodes of Friends and Sex and the City and is now in LaBarge Wyoming, pop. 350.

  • Halogen Wall Light

    Lighting

    Lucky Strike, a bistro on the south side of still-sleepy Grand Street, opened in 1989 and is one of the earliest New York examples of this style. British-born restaurateur Keith McNally later opened other Manhattan spots with the same aesthetic, like Pastis and Schiller's Liquor Bar. His style — a classic workingman's café look — has spawned many imitators. This round marine-style light illuminates each of the café's two tiny bathrooms.

  • Antique Desk Lamp

    Lighting

    Few items are as easy to find, affordable and versatile as a lamp like this one, seen in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan. The hotel's designers, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, of Roman and Williams, say: \"We put seemingly disparate objects together and allow them to simmer to see if we can raise the temperature of a space. Our work communicates that voltage between time periods, cultures and styles.\" They sourced many of the hotel's objects from places like the Brimfield Market, held twice a year in Massachusetts.

  • Exposed Bulb Pendant Lighting

    Lighting

    How ironic! A period look in lighting, like these exposed filament bulbs used here at Public, a restaurant in New York's Nolita, is heating up just as the incandescent bulb is being phased out. The design firm that created Public, in 2003, from a former Edison laboratory, sought design solutions that were low-cost and authentic to the period of the space and neighborhood. Kristina O'Neal, a founder of Avroko, which designed and operates Public, told a reporter they wanted \"something a little bit nostalgic, a little bit about old New York, a little bit comforting, but still with [our] own take on it.\"

  • Antique Bladed Fans

    Artifacts

    This collection of brass fans is clearly not meant to provide ventilation at the Frye flagship store in Soho. But a collection like this offers terrific visual impact. The gleam of the metal and the sensuous curves turn these functional objects into a display of beauty. Stark, dramatic lighting adds a feeling of importance.

  • Restaurant With Public Mailboxes

    Artifacts

    In our technology-obsessed era, there's something oddly comforting about seeing an old-school post office box, especially at the entrance to a chic restaurant like Public. It adds a charming touch, using a utilitarian object purely for its aesthetic pleasure and totally out of context.

  • Sewing Machine Store Front

    Artifacts

    If you've never seen one of these gorgeous black-and-gold vintage sewing machines up close, imagine an entire wall of them! The Allsaints store, at 512 Broadway in Manhattan, is housed in what was originally a Singer factory, so using the machines pays stunning visual homage to the building's history. Artifacts of this quality, en masse, can create an equally impressive wall or display.

  • All Saints Thread Spools

    Artifacts

    As you've seen, this style relies on a severely restricted palette of black, gray, cream, brown and white. Here, in the Allsaints store in Manhattan, designers have reused old thread spools, cleverly combining them into an op-art sculpture, their weathered, worn paint adding an unexpected and lovely spot of color in the otherwise neutral space.

  • Antique Hook

    Artifacts

    This object — a block and tackle typically used to offload freight from a boat — is a nice addition to Onassis, a casual men's clothing store in Soho, with its nautical references and flavor of the rough-and-ready life of those who once used it. The color pops against the raw wood of the display tables and echoes the period feel of the cast-iron building in which the store is located.

  • Shabby Chic Seating

    Wood

    It's easy to forget that wine comes in cases if you usually just buy a bottle or two. Here, at Lucky Strike in Manhattan, they've been repurposed as tabletops, a perfect note in a café offering a classic French feel. This café, one of the earliest in Manhattan to use this style, remains a beloved favorite — one of the city's rare long-term survivors.

  • Shabby Chic Bookshelves

    Wood

    Freemans opened in 2004 and was described by one critic as a place \"where the new Lower East Side, Appalachia, a British hunting lodge and a suburban 1950s dinner party all converge. It's the kind of unlikely restaurant you'd sooner expect to find in a David Lynch movie than in reality, but here it is.\" The space was designed by Taavo Somer and William Tigertt, and it incorporates a wide range of materials, from taxidermied birds to Thonet-style chairs. These shelves of raw lumber bear the mark of the saw, a rough-edged version of an urban library.

  • Wood Wall

    Wood

    Here, wood has been used as a wall covering, adding color and texture in a place you'd least expect it. In a room filled with smooth metal, glass, wool and leather, it adds a roughness and hand-hewn quality that offers a powerful contrast and echoes the artisanal look of the leather goods for sale.

  • All Saints Bathroom Stalls

    Walls

    The dressing room is usually an ugly, cramped afterthought. Not here. Tall black metal doors with simple handles open into a space that carries through the shop's slightly menacing, steampunk feeling — the subway tile here is not pristine, but artificially aged, like some grungy hotel from the 1920s, not a place to try on a $300 dress.

  • Ace Hotel Bathroom

    Walls

    \"We were interested in a slightly punk rock approach, while still using a traditional language,\" says Robin Standefer, one of the two designers who created the Ace Hotel's distinctive look. \"When we deal with materials and languages that are historical in nature, we try to approach them with a new originality, a new life,\" she told Wallpaper magazine. Here, they've combined classic white subway tile with black wooden trim, dark grout, a claw-foot tub with brass faucets and period furniture to give the feel of an Edwardian-era men's club.

  • Restaurant Booth with Subway Tile

    Walls

    A trademark element of Keith McNally's restaurant design, shown here at Schiller's Liquor Bar in Manhattan, is the use of subway tile. Simple, cheap, easy to clean and endlessly versatile, it mixes easily with mirrors, ceiling fans, casement windows and black metal chairs. The restrained palette, combination of materials and repetition of form make this space so effective.

  • Well-Stocked Bar

    Metal

    A terrific material, often overlooked by homeowners doing their own residential design, is copper, available at most hardware stores by the foot in a variety of widths. Inexpensive, durable, easily cut into any shape with light shears, it wears to a lovely patina or can be polished back to a gleaming sheen. This is the bar at Lucky Strike, which opened in 1989 on Grand Street in Manhattan.

  • Freeman's Bar

    Metal

    In France, the local bar is often called \"le zinc,\" thanks to the metal covering the bar; two restaurants, one in Detroit and one in San Francisco, have borrowed that name. Restaurant critic Frank Bruni said of this space, which also incorporates a zinc bar: \"I smiled every time I walked into and through Freemans, and I smiled every time I watched someone else arrive. That person invariably did a double take, then giggled. It's sweet of a restaurant to make that happen.\" Freemans followed this noble tradition when it expanded in 2006 and added this metal-topped bar.

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