Gansevoort Market Owner Chris Reda and Designer Charlie Baker Discuss Design Aesthetic [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
New York City's first outdoor local produce market was opened in 1884 by Peter Gansevoort. A few years later, meat, poultry and dairy were added to the mix and the then farmers' market relocated to what is currently Gansevoort Street and became known as the Gansevoort Market.
Fast forward to today and the market at 52 Gansevoort Street continues to convey the authentic architecture and spirit of old New York, offering individuals an interactive shopping experience while enjoying the offerings of modern food purveyors. Within the space, visitors are invited to taste exclusive dishes from a range of cuisines and dine under the skylit seating area, filled with beautifully installed natural vines and foliage.
The raw, yet warming environment of the Gansevoort Market offers a unique sense of escape from the daily urban surroundings and attracts newcomers and repeat customers alike.
The market's co-owner Chris Reda, shared with us the aesthetic direction he and his partners took when redesigning the historic structure. Along with the interior garden-inspired additions sourced and installed by Baker Structures, Inc. owner Charlie Baker, reveals his vision and execution process for the indoor space.
Read further for the full interview with the two men who have carefully preserved the soul of the significant history of the Market while initiating a new energy to the beloved, cobblestoned streets of the Meatpacking neighborhood.
MB: Describe the design direction you both wanted to achieve within the Gansevoort Market?
CR: Conceptually, the design of the market is based on functionalism and organic design. The market's furnishings and installations are a unified and interrelated composition. The materials and motifs repeat themselves throughout the whole of the building, from the hand-painted signs to the vine installation to the continuous use of varying natural materials. Thus, allowing the Market to stay true to its historic roots by growing out of the site rather than changing it.
CB: I wanted to make the seating area feel like an outdoor garden that had been there for years. By installing the large vines, I wanted to achieve the instant gratification that a living vine would take years to accomplish. Since the bittersweet vines are of course not alive, I complemented them with living tropical vines (creeping fig) which, over time, will grow and intertwine with the dead vines to create an indoor jungle look.
MB: Was it difficult to create a cohesive design that did not take away from the individuality of each purveyor?
CR: We knew as a design team that it was important to stay true to the organic nature of the space and going with this, allowed us to have a cohesive concept that could be translated specifically to match each purveyor's individuality. Importantly, all of the purveyors were curated to also fit the ambiance that was the driving force behind the design.
MB: What experience do you hope for the visitors to have when shopping and dining in the market?
CR: The Market is truly about bringing the community together, giving a space to congregate while also offering unique and local brands that may have otherwise not been possible in such a high rental market. In other words, it is about offering the community an experience that is interactive, fun and unique. The Market is a place to explore and to relax with family and friends, bringing people together through tastes, sounds and smells.
CB: In terms of the vines, my hope is that the Gansevoort Market can provide visitors with a kind of natural escape from their typical urban surroundings, much like the High Line does with its beautiful gardens.
MB: Where did you source the vines and foliage for the space?
CB: All of the vines came from the Eastern end of Long Island. The living vines and ferns up above came from a nursery, also located on Long Island.
MB: Did the historic market have an impact on your design choices?
CR: Yes, the design goal was to personify old New York, meaning that it was important to take into consideration what the Meatpacking District truly was in its prime. Therefore the space was kept industrial, with simple modifications to bring together old and new, keeping true to its roots, while creating a modern communal space to eat, entertain and relax.
MB: How was the installation process and will the Market host the vine installation long term?
CB: The installation process involved several days of cutting and detaching bittersweet vines from the trees they were engulfing. Once I had enough, I filled up a box truck to the ceiling and drove them to the market. The next step was to untangle the mess of vines in the truck and spread them out all over the market floor. To keep out of the contractors' way, the vines had to be spread out underneath the skylight where I was working, which meant tripping over them plenty of times while maneuvering around. The vines are basically installed one at a time by wrapping them around support columns and themselves, occasionally securing them with fasteners. In an indoor environment, the dead bittersweet vines will last a long time. With the right care, the living plants should continue to flourish under the bright skylight.
CR: Yes, the vine installation is long term. It allows for the continuous organic flow of the market which all leads to the focal point, the sky lit seating area. Our Creative Director Manny Del Castillo has done a wonderful job bringing in local artists. We currently are hosting the artwork of Curtis Kulig, which can be seen in the seating area and we are continually looking for new installations that personify the Market. Other than installations, we collaborated with Brooklyn Curated on the furnishings and the restroom design features. The hand-painted signs were also done by a local artist, again, with the intention to bring cohesiveness to the Market's design. Our overall intention is to support the creative community by giving them a space to share their work with the public.