Once upon a time on the corner of Greenwich and Jane, there was a beautiful place called Furniture Co. It was New York City, 1999 and I was looking for my first real job, fresh out of college, eager for this new phase of my life to begin. Naïve, or perhaps more accurately, not yet really knowing myself, I figured the pursuit would take three months. Ha! Me, ‘Miss Particular’, find my first job in a matter of three months? The first job, that I had started illustrating in grade school, while picking up pieces of a business woman’s life from characters like Elizabeth Perkins’s Susan in ‘Big’ and Diane Keaton’s J.C. Wiatt in ‘Baby Boom’? I didn’t necessarily want to go the corporate route those ladies went, but I knew exactly the kind of place I wanted to be. Or at least I knew I’d recognize it when I had found it.
So my search began, days passed, weeks passed, the three-month mark passed and I was still without. That of course was a result of my own doing. (Thanks to the ‘Miss Particular’ thing). The way it went, I would be sitting in an interview thinking, “No way am I working here!”, smiling to hide my objections about a place— at one, the dingy office, at another, the barking co-workers. So one afternoon, when I suppose it had been decided that I deserved to finally get my break, I walked up to the storefront at 818 Greenwich Street, and into this modern furniture store aptly named Furniture Co. Inside, it looked more to me like an art gallery. At the same time, it looked very much like a place I would have liked to live. There were white walls, a rich, brown, wide-plank Walnut floor, and in careful arrangements, the most beautifully simple furniture I’d ever laid eyes on—a red chair, a yellow chair, a teak bench, a maple table. And then the special objects to soften the modern—a giant Akari light glowing like a full moon made out of paper, an elegant glass vase, a collection of grey-blue ceramic bowls, each object more beautiful than the next. It was one of those ‘choir of angels singing’ moments. With my jaw dropped to the floor, I thought, “Where have you been all my life?” I had finally found my place. *If you were a fan of Sex in the City and saw the episode when Carrie met Aidan in his furniture store, you know this place. Yes, that was Furniture Co. And yes! I got to be there with Sarah Jessica and John Corbett the day they filmed the episode. That was, indeed, an exciting bite of my New York life for sure, but in truth, only a momentary glimmer next to what this company was to me.
Furniture Co was the dream-come-reality of a designer I had the privilege of meeting very young in my working life. He was my boss, my unofficial teacher and mentor, and the molder of my design mind. I think David was born an artist and a creator, with a design sensibility like no one else I’ve ever known. To this day, he’s one of my favorite people on this earth and I often wonder if I’ve thanked him enough. How was I the lucky one,who after stumbling upon this place, worked my way up to a spot on the design team of such a talented artist and had a regular glimpse into his creative brain? Sounds crazy, I’m sure, as this was in fact work. But it was so much more than just any old job. Like a perfect mate or a perfect house that brings a smile to your face and peace to your mind, this place was my perfect match, a jigsaw puzzle piece, that fit with me so exactly. Me, the little girl who had always wanted to be an artist. The teenager who dreamed of being an interior designer. The picky girl who spent forever looking for just the right first job. Here it was! And how much better than I had ever imagined.
I remember the early days, being in awe at the opening parties, standing among these artists and their work, wondering how it was I got to be there, thinking how I had never before seen such beautiful things in my entire life—once, giant, hand-hammered sterling silver vases made by a pretty, young jeweler from London, another time a show of baskets woven by a collection of artists from all over the world, from as close as upstate New York to as far away as Japan and the Isle of Skye, and another time pottery by a man who lived in a farmhouse in the quiet English countryside.
I was thinking about Furniture Co a lot recently as I revisited the job search and re-visited my resume, subsequently traveling down the various memory lanes of my past. I think if the company was still in existence I would probably be there today. But I know all good things eventually must end. And as I write this, I wonder if any words I could choose would ever accurately convey what a truly special place it was. It was special to me, of course, but I think that anyone who knew it or was a part of it, felt it just as special. But since most of you who will read this never did know it and never will, I suppose this is simply an homage that I am finally getting around to writing.