Nicole Kapit effortlessly navigates the narrow spaces between beautifully curated antiques at the Newel galleries on East 61st street. She makes you feel as if you could easily live with these pieces at home just like a couch from Crate & Barrel. She didn’t flinch when my friend sat on an 18th century Italian chair. There are no “Do Not Sit” signs pinned to grosgrain ribbon here.
As president of Sales and Acquisitions since this past January, Nicole is obviously passionate about the details of the 17th to 21st century cabinets, chairs and tables that harmoniously thrive together in the 10,000 square foot showroom. However, one does not walk away feeling as if you just left a museum. These are meant for the homes of the rich and famous for sure but the kind of rich and famous that put their feet up on the coffee table.
While long known to legendary designers such as Mark Hampton, Bunny Williams and Peter Marino, Newel sets itself apart from other upscale resources that are “to the trade only.” Both the showroom and their 55,000 square foot warehouse in Long Island City are open to the public without an appointment. I loved wandering around the vast warehouse. It felt as if I was walking through the attics of Downton Abbey or Versailles. There’s an element of discovery around every corner that made my imagination run wild with curiosity about the stories these venerable pieces could tell.
Newel was started in 1939 by Meyer Newman as a prop rental house for Broadway shows the business evolved into a destination for film and television art directors as well. From The Godfather to the Sex in the City series and movie, some of the furnishings have a better resume than most actors I know. Today they regularly rent to the numerous productions taking place in New York including providing reasonable facsimiles of the priceless antiques in The White House for a recent series of sketches on SNL.
The enviable collection of rare and iconic works of decorative arts include a group of carved mahogany palm trees by Marian Hall of Tate and Hall that once adorned a magnificent fifth avenue apartment; price upon request (I requested. Trust me, you don’t want to know.) But not everything is a priceless antique. The gallery also features contemporary works of art by both established and emerging artists. One of my favorites were Ray Geary’s cast resin sculpture encapsulating pharmaceuticals. The juxtaposition of Newel’s treasures both old and new inspired my daydreams. Pay them a visit and inspire your own.
Newel’s showroom is located at 306 East 61st and their warehouse is located at 32-00 Skillman Avenue in Long Island City. Their entire catalogue is available here.