The Soho of my youth has changed from bohemian artist colony to cobblestone’d Rodeo Drive, and seeing as I personally can’t afford to shop at Chanel, I don’t often find myself there. That said, last week an acquaintance told me about ALT for Living – a showroom on Greene Street that had somehow escaped my radar. Yesterday I ventured south to meet Analisse Taft, ALT for Living‘s owner/curator, and to see her collection. It turned out to be a very exciting and worthwhile trip.
To begin, the showroom space is warm and enveloping – just the right mix of Connecticut farmhouse shelving and edgy urban furnishings. It sets the tone for Taft’s eclectic collection. There are beautiful hand-knotted silk carpets from Rosemary Hallgarten and expertly registered linen-print fabrics from Malene B, which are gorgeous. But with further investigation, I found there’s much more afoot in Taft’s offerings. Within the selection of textiles and floor coverings are lines that harken back to the by-gone era of ‘Soho’ as a laboratory of cutting edge art. Taft mixes traditional luxury with the avant-garde, the mark of a visionary. Suddenly the geographic location of the showroom made sense. There’s the fabric collection of Carolyn Ray – stunning hand-painted linen scrim, and vat-dyed ombre alpaca panels – which are at once disciplined and diaphanous. Among the carpets are Tania Johnson Design’s photographically engineered pieces – digital images plotted and mastered into hand-knotted pieces so sublime they seem heretic to walk on. There are also a few furniture lines, including Refuge, which I’d describe as a mash-up of raw naturalistic form and a modern Francophile aesthetic. The pieces are sparsely zen yet playful.
Last year, having been inspired by a chance discovery of vintage silk screens, Taft introduced her first signature collection of textiles aptly called “Living Vintage“. Drawn from her favorites among the screens, there are 12 prints, ranging in style from camouflage snake-skin to California bungalow. They’re all available on a variety of grounds – and in 42 stock colorways. She explained “Though my showroom represents the best in contemporary designs, I’ve always held a deep respect for pieces with intriguing history… finding these silk screens felt like unearthing lost treasure.” Adding these vintage textiles further expresses her wish to have a showroom with a rich and diverse product line.
While ALT for Living‘s website is user-friendly, but it hardly does the collection justice. Make the trip to the showroom. You’ll enjoy the collection as well as the hospitality of the charming and experienced staff. While you’re there, make sure to watch underfoot for “Karma” – Taft’s Norfolk Terrier and showroom mascot – who absolutely stole my heart!
“Amelie” in color #8 from the Living Vintage Collection
ALT for Living 110 Greene Street Suite 411 New York 212-431-1000