Blackbarn at Chelsea Market Celebrates One Year of Inimitable Style
Few design brands have cultivated such a singular and recognizable aesthetic as has New York’s Blackbarn. Founded by Mark Zeff (whose MARKZEFF is one of the country’s most respected interior design concerns) along with his wife Kristen, they draw inspiration from the East End farmhouses of the Hamptons to the industrial style lofts of Manhattan – and quite a lot in between.
This time last year, the new Blackbarn shop/cafe/bar opened in Chelsea Market to much fanfare. Indeed, it represented something singularly unique (though it nevertheless feels very much in harmony with the market’s overall vision), from the eclectic mix of home decor items, to stylish tabletop settings, to their own branded personal care line, and even temporary exhibitions of notable artists such as Christopher Tennant. To be sure, everything seems to forward not just an inimitable sense of style, but rather presents a veritable lifestyle in a shop – right down to choosing “conscious” products.
“I would call our aesthetic unique/eclectic,” says Kristen Zeff. “While we have a large selection of international goods, we also have a growing collection of American-made items. Additionally, we have an increasing number of fair trade and ‘gifts for good’ items that support artisan communities and charitable causes.”
That lifestyle extends to the (of course) smartly designed cafe and bar at the back of the shop, which has become one of Chelsea’s most popular meeting points for shoppers, visitors and the local cognoscenti. Venerable chef John Doherty (formerly of the Waldorf Astoria) serves up new takes curried cauliflower steak, lobster risotto, and chicken milanese in a stylish, light-flooded space.
But perhaps most exciting is the opening of a sexy new lounge area at Blackbarn, bearing the brand’s aesthetic signature, and featuring sets by carefully selected local DJ talent.
“The lounge is like being in a chic home,” Mark Zeff explains, “collectibles and art as well as found items. The furniture is custom designed as well as vintage, giving the space a calm and comfortable aesthetic.”
There’s a new gardening section in the shop as well, acknowledging the steady rise of the urban gardener culture. And up next? Expect a new coffee-related partnership with Kobricks, and a new chocolate line with Cioccolada.
“We are also working with a small family owned candle factory on three more scents,” enthuses Mark. “We have created some hits in this area and hope to find more!”
So was there a particular highlight from the past year?
Mark recalls, “We went to Spain and Portugal in a search of family owned factories to collaborate with. What a treat it was to meet owners and work with them to develop product including glass, crockery, linens and toweling.”