Caroline Cummings is sipping a cup of coffee and tapping away on her BlackBerry at Barmarche in NoLIta, which over the past year has become her makeshift office. That’s because the young property developer’s first project is virtually across the street: she transformed 11 Spring Street from a graffiti-splattered 19th-century carriage house into three massive — and massively expensive — apartments (the 4,600-square-foot penthouse is priced at more than $17 million). Now that the residences are finished and on the market, Cummings is moving onto her next project: a furniture line called Carolina George.
“I always wanted to design,” explains the 27-year-old of her latest venture, which she developed with her friend, home store owner Georgia Tapert. “Georgia and I have always had this idea, but couldn’t figure out how to do it,” Cummings says.
This story first appeared in the November 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Luckily, someone who could literally walked into her kitchen. “My mom was getting some cabinets built in our Palm Beach house, and I talked to the contractor and asked him if he could do our furniture,” says Cummings, who grew up between Florida and New York City. The contractor said yes and Carolina George was launched.
The 30-piece collection is designed to fill the need the duo saw for versatile furnishings. “Being a New Yorker, you need something that can do a lot. There wasn’t a lot of multitasking furniture that wasn’t overly contemporary or really cheap,” says Cummings. To address that issue, she looked to 18th-century mechanized furniture, which she discovered while taking graduate courses at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
That gave rise to pieces like the “Oh So Vanity,” a fusion of a dressing table and desk, and the “Schoolgirl Desk,” a round table that separates into a desk and chair. Other convertible pieces include a glass-front bookshelf that transforms into a dining table and a slipper chair with hidden side shelves. Available now at Tapert’s SoHo store, Georgia Tapert Living, the entire line is made-to-order in any size or finish, with prices starting at $1,800.
Like her furniture, Cummings is adept at multitasking. Two weeks ago, she hosted a gallery fete for designer Ralph Rucci, a family friend, in the 11 Spring Street building. While showcasing Rucci’s dark expressionist paintings, Cummings also got a chance to show off her apartments to partygoers and potential buyers.
“I knew her as a young woman and she’s developed into a sweet, divine, intelligent and beautiful lady,” Rucci says of his hostess. “Nothing about Caroline is old world. She is entirely what a modern woman should be.