Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
New Ideas
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments (1) Posted 01.26.12 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Married at Moss



Davis + Star (via the New York Times)

If you write about design in New York City, and have been for some time, there's no way you haven't encountered Murray Moss. I must have interviewed him a dozen times, the highlight being a 2005 feature in New York Magazine on his own home (not as minimal as you might think. And those wires!). So I was sad to see the news that the real home of Moss, his store on Greene Street, was closing. Where would I go to see in person the objects I had only read about? It's hard not to see the store's closing as the result of the digital free-for-all of images (we've gotten less suspicious about buying after a virtual look) and prices (why pay New York retail when you can get it direct from Europe).

The only time I was able to enter the world of Moss was when I was spending other people's money, a.k.a. when I got married, and registered there. I dearly love my Jasper Morrison Moon china, which to me was the epitome of what Moss stood for: the perfect plain thing. After that experience, I encountered many, many other designers who also registered at Moss. It was a rite of passage, choosing your grown-up things from Murray's select group. That led to one of my favorite pieces I've written, and one of the first times I personalized my take on design. Copied below in full, in honor of the dream that was Moss: "Married With Tchotchkes," from the October 9, 2005 issue of T Magazine.

Murray Moss makes an unlikely Miss Manners. A man more simpatico with Gaetano Pesce resin chairs than place cards, Moss, the owner of the famous SoHo design emporium bearing his name, says, "I had no idea how much a wedding cake cost until Nicole showed me one day."

He is speaking of Nicole Breedlove, the registry specialist at Moss, who realized soon after she was hired by Moss in 2003 that he was not capitalizing on a major social (and gift-giving) phenomenon. "I didn't understand what an occasion it was because I didn't have a personal connection to it," says Moss, who has been with his partner in life and business, Franklin Getchell, for 34 years. "Nicole said, 'Wise up. It is one of the last rituals."'

And for many New York designer (and design-worshipping) couples, registering at Moss has become part of that ritual. It is a rite of passage for those who wish to stock their kitchens with all the high-tech toys, who covet Danish classics or who naturally cringe at the frilly, bride-oriented, thread-count-pushing traditional wedding registry. After his marital epiphany, Moss decided to put his stamp on the weddings of Mossophiles - partnering with Vino, a New York wine shop, to create a wine registry; adding oddball attendant gifts to his design registry; and leading registry-orientation sessions.

While most people are signing up for Vera Wang Wedgwood china at Michael C. Fina and Le Creuset at Williams-Sonoma, Moss aesthetes are checking off pink plastic Air Chairs and Until Dawn curtains by Tord Boontje on their wish lists. "Two of our architect friends had registered there," says Katherine Kim, the founder of Unit Design, an architecture and graphic design company. Her husband, Matthew Bannister, creative director of dbox, an advertising firm, adds, "And we would all enjoy spending an afternoon browsing in there."

Henry Urbach, a gallery owner, didn't even consider other stores when he married Stephen Hartman, his partner of 20 years, in November 2003. "Moss is a kind of watering hole for people interested in design," Urbach says. (At Moss, couples are listed as first partner and second partner; 20 percent of the registrants are same-sex couples.)

The Moss registry experience begins with an orientation by Breedlove. (Yes, that's her real married name; it's Native American.) She will open the pristine glass cases, take out place settings and flatware and explain the most crucial fact: the registry works on credit - ideal for those who'd rather own one Hella Jongerius vase than 20 Rosenthal soup plates. Couples get an e-mail of all purchases, with notes from the purchasers, but nothing gets shipped until they say that they want it, an untold blessing for those without doormen. That also means that they have no obligation to take what they get. Breedlove offers a variety of tricks to get around the guilty feeling some have about trading china for a pair of Danish Handmadebikes by Rasmus Gjesing. You can register for 20 wineglasses and take only 10 home, or ditch the bread-and-butter plates.

Some couples have decided to abandon the tabletop, pooling their credit to buy the LegnoLetto bed or the Spoon bathtub. One artist-architect couple did this for something small but precious: a pair of Ted Muehling's metal candlesticks.

Armin Harris, an associate photo editor at Fortune, and his wife, Allison Penn, a lawyer, have spaced out the credit-spending process. They were married in spring 2004, moved into a new apartment this past spring and are expecting a son this fall. So instead of opting for the extra serving platter, they chose some space-saving Vitsoe bookshelves for their new apartment.

In my case, my architect husband and I haven't spent a Moss dime even though we just celebrated our two-year anniversary. Since we haven't got the space to store the china yet, much less to hold Thanksgiving dinner, I'm using Moss as a virtual storage unit until we buy a place of our own.

For most design snobs, spending other people's money at Moss is a fantasy. What happens, though, when two hyper-aesthetes mate?

"I've seen them argue over whether to have a rim around the plate, or stainless versus sterling," Breedlove says. Bree Jeppson, who works for the Kreisberg Group, the public relations firm that represents the architects Santiago Calatrava and Zaha Hadid, really wanted the Arco lamp. Her husband, the architect Markus Dochantschi, who heads studioMDA, did not. "He refused flat out," Jeppson says. "He thought it was definitely overexposed and not original enough."

Julie Lasky, the editor in chief of I.D. magazine, and her husband, Ernest Beck, a freelance journalist, disagreed about a techie Mono teapot. "We brought friends with us, probably partly as mediators," Lasky says. Beck thought it was too 1980's. Although Lasky thought about sneaking it onto the registry, she eventually acquiesced to her spouse's design demands.

Liesl Geiger's husband, Chris Kincade, won't even talk to her about their registry experience anymore. After one visit to the store, he thought their work was done. But Geiger, who had studied the work of Iittala guru Kaj Franck in Finland, wanted just the right combination of Franck's dishes for their home. So she went to the store - repeatedly - and tried different color combinations with her flatware, pretending to dine. (For a Moss marriage to work, you've got to have the right visuals.)

Since his talk with Breedlove, Moss has developed his own theory of the wedding registry, elucidated on the Moss Web site as "Me, Us and Them." "I like the idea of Meissen" - at $401 for a Ming Dragon coffee cup and saucer - "for breakfast for two people," he writes.

He is also trying to get people to experiment a little - a case downstairs in the store features all of Moss's blue-and-white china patterns mixed together. There is also a sample registry (what Moss might do, were he to wed) online from which to shop. Many of the store's most-registered-for items appear there: the solid elm Big Bowl by Sarah Finn, Hannah stainless-steel flatware and Moon china by Jasper Morrison, which was my own wedding choice. I learned later that many of my guests found it too dull to give as a gift, a common complaint by those who aren't thrilled by a perfect white porcelain circle.

|
Share This Story

Comments (1)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT COMMENT >>

Sorry his designs seem pretty cold to be honest. Not sure if I'd want them in my living room or house...even if he is called a design genius by some. Given that though...I'm just judging based on these two pictures....probably should see more before make a final judgement I guess. x

02.25.12 at 03:25


Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

More books by contributors >>

RELATED POSTS


A Michelangelo, at 100 mph Plus
The recent death of Italy’s Massimo Tamburini brought to an end the glittering career of perhaps the greatest motorcycle designer ever and one of the greatest industrial designers of recent decades.

Lucia Eames, 1930-2014
An appreciation of Lucia Eames (1930-2014).

The Quickest Fix
A suggestion for an easy & quick design tweak that could help reduce concussions in the NFL.

Playing With Design: Fredun Shapur
Add Fredun Shapur to the pantheon of modern designers making winning and sculptural objects for children.

For Better or Worse, This Design Endures
Owen Edwards on the enduring qualities of the AK-47.