Barneys New York is getting radical — about Italian furniture and interior design from the Sixties and Seventies, that is. A pop-up shop on the ninth floor of the Madison Avenue flagship is devoted to Radical Design featuring pieces created during the period by Gufram, Zanotta and Laboratorio Pesaro.
“Barneys is an innovative and provocative retailer and we try to create moments that surprise customers,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear and home. “The Italian modernists during that period were coming out of architecture or art school and were in their 20s. It was a time of anti-establishment feelings around the world. Radical Design was a way to capture that sentiment.”
Until recently, Barneys Home was known as Chelsea Passage. The business was re-branded to reflect a shift from the gift collection that Phyllis Pressman launched in 1979 under the Chelsea Passage banner. Pressman, whose husband Fred was the son of the retailer’s namesake founder, originally opened Chelsea Passage in an alley that was discovered at Barneys’ original downtown location on Seventh Avenue and 17th Street. “It was about 15 or 20 feet wide and maybe 100 feet deep,” Kalenderian said.
Barneys Home spans 6,000 square feet across Madison Avenue’s ninth floor, which is undergoing renovation for the first time in 14 years. The 1,000-square-foot pop-up shop is a permanent fixture, with a theme that changes every 60 to 90 days.
“Some days, one-third of our sales comes from designers, decorators and architects,” Kalenderian said. “It’s more about decor than it is about giftables. We follow the market and it’s taking us to businesses we’re not known for, such as furniture and rugs.”
Pop-ups allow Barneys to push the design envelope and test new brands and collaborations such as Kartell x Lapo Elkann, which featured chairs and tables wrapped in tartan plaids and racing stripes, Kalenderian said. Y&R Augousti, the Haas Brothers and architect Massimiliano Locatelli’s United Homeware are among the other brands that have appeared in the pop-up space.
While sourcing Radical Design, Kalenderian met with Adolfo Natalini, a cofounder of the Florence collective Superstudio. “I got the feeling they never knew it would become so important in design history,” Kalenderian said. “The things they created have become the subjects of museum exhibitions.”
Barneys had been working for six months to find original Italian ceramics from the Sixties and Seventies by Franco Bucci, but there was very little vintage product available in the market. “The Barneys team approached the original factory in Pesaro, Italy, which uncovered the original molds in their archive,” Kalenderian said. “They successfully reused these 50-year-old molds and issued a limited edition of 50 units of each of the incredible pieces.”
Key pieces from Radical Design include Gufram’s Bocca sofa shaped like red lips, $8,998, and cactus coat rack, $5,995; Superstudio’s Quaderna table, $5,270; Puffo stools by Giorgio Ceretti, Piero Derossi and Riccardo Rosso, $2,370, and Pratone’s polyurethane lounge chair, which looks like blades of grass.
“On the first day, we sold the Pratone lounge chair and iconic reissues from the Sixties and Seventies from Laboratorio Pesaro as well as Sacco beanbag chairs,” Kalenderian said. “The pop-up includes some really fun pieces at a wide range of price points, including a special placemat collaboration between Gufram and Lisa Perry for $38.”