Friday, February 8, 2013


I've been running around the city trying to discover enough Moroccan poofs and rugs to create the illusion of Marrakesh in a tiny breakout room for a company that pushes the envelop on bizarre ways to stimulate creativity in its design team. I can't say that it hasn't been fun but it's been frustrating at the same time. The fun part coming from getting the opportunity to be giddy with color, wild with pattern and pushing my own imagination with suspended Moroccan screens, sparkling bangles on curtains and over-dyed Persian rugs. The frustration comes with trying to find the artifacts of a fad that isn't really in fashion anymore. I've taken two trips across the Hudson: one to Jersey City and the other to Hoboken in search of Moroccan treasures. What I found were warehouses filled with twenty-year-old props used and used again at theme parties from misdirected bar mitzvahs and bachelor parties where the honorees left stains I don't even want to speculate on all over vinyl ottomans and polyester divans.
I finally had to turn to Martha for advice. This is no lie. If you google Moroccan furniture you get an old article for Martha Stewart Living where she, well one of her minions, raves about a Moroccan importer who had set up tent in the dunes of Chelsea Market. In frustration I decided to stay on the east side of the Hudson and brave a windy walk to Ninth Avenue and Chelsea Market. I had totally forgotten how much fun the market is. It's over-the-top industrial chic is exposed throughout the snaking hallways where the scale of real life is abandoned to chains as thick as your arm and faucets only someone the size of Shriek could manage to use.
Theatricality dances throughout with a major feature being a huge stream of running water lit in dramatic red lights.
Then there is a central archway made of a million tiny lights creeping like a gigantic spider web around an antique clock. There are so many lights your eyes can't fully take them in as you walk through the arch. They become a blur of white streaks the way an image on film appears when the camera moves too fast and solid forms become translucent as they rush across the screen.
The Market is the former Nabisco Baking Company. The first structures were built in the 1890's as a consortium of a dozen baking companies. The company and its buildings grew into a complex of over 22 buildings and more than 2 million square feet by the late 1950's. By the early 70's the way of baking had changed from a vertical process to a horizontal one better suited to the long one story buildings cropping up in the outlying areas of New York and New Jersey. In the 1990's the building was bought out by the investor Irwin Cohen and a syndicate of buyers who turned the building into office space for a new wave of technology companies.
This is when the ground floor was converted into a sea of new bakeries, food purveyors and local merchants selling very unique goods.
Locals go here for the staples of life from chacuteries to fresh flowers for the table.
Tourists have also found out about the market and come to walk the halls stopping to smell the herbs at the Epicure Emporium
or warm up with cup of Joe while a cold February wind blows outside.
There so many wonderful places in New York that you can forget about some of them but the joy of rediscovery can be very sweet, especially at one of Chelsea Markets pastry shops.

Vesuvio Bakery, 160 Prince St, NYC
Frank H. Jump, photographer along with thousands others

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