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Product+Dressing Room: Curating a Colletive

Ernest is a design collective of Belgian and European brands, including Manhattan distributor d’apostrophe, along with partners Royal Botania, Delta Light, and Renson. Its new curated boutique showroom showcases an assortment of architectural and design products, including
furniture, flooring, and lighting.

It also displays an array of different spaces—including an office, studio, kitchen, outdoor lounge, and flagship “experience room” that features a drop-down media screen, retractable privacy screens, and whimsical furniture. A unique twist on the traditional showroom, the space also aims to capture multidisciplinary cultural and social experiences, as it can be rented out for events and screenings.

President of d’apostropher and Co-Founder of Ernest, Thierry Herbert, recently toured Interior Designer and TV personality Vanessa Deleon, and editor Chris Curtland through the new space.

“The layout is aesthetically pleasing and bright. The showroom has a personal and one-on-one, professional touch and feel,” Deleon said. “Although there are different companies, they are all innovative and ahead of their time.”

The pride and joy of Ernest’s space is the “experience room”—which offers lounging, media integration, and lighting demonstrations. “The goal is to create different spaces within one big space,” said Herbert. “We really wanted to show what we can offer to a project because architects have different levels of thinking. We want designers to come here and see the full range of how we can work.”

Overhead and shelf lighting shows the range of color temperatures and color rendering indexes, from the warmer, yellower end of the spectrum to the brighter, whiter experience at the top. The effects can be seen on everything from furniture to displays of flower and jewelry.

“These concepts can be difficult to understand when you only see numbers on a page,” Herbert explained. “But here you can see how rich the colors are and how they pop.”

Here you can also see—and hear—the crystal clarity of the media center (which can be controlled with buttons on the wall or on an iPad). Before wrapping up, we were treated to sneak peaks of movie scenes and trailers.

The space is curated to display several concepts and creations. “We want to show healthy building strategies and how all the products can be united in one space,” Herbert said.

But the space is also curated with unique art pieces. As a nod to the company’s Belgian roots, a side table has old Tintin and Smurfs comics enclosed in its glass tabletop. Around the corner in an accent lighting corridor is a multi-layered plastic piece that illustrates an important design concept.

“This is perspective 101,” Deleon said. “This is what they teach us in design school. This is a really amazing piece.”

While most of the touring group sat in the couches for the experience, I had to try out the interesting red chairs that incorporated wheels and a roundabout desk surface. When I sat in it with my hands settled on the rounded armrests, Herbert was quick to tell me its story.

“It was actually first used in a hairdressing shop that offered massage, so you’re supposed to sit it in this way,” he explained, leaning into it with his chest on what I thought was its back. “But of course it’s also used in offices and education because you can rotate around and have a sort of lounge desk.”

And lounging isn’t the only whimsy the seating offers. “We’ve also had races in them around the showroom during construction,” Herbert added, “but they’re not really designed for that.”

Circling back to the center of the space, we passed traditional workstations and an adaptable conference table, which slides out similar to the kitchen table that exposes a sink and induction stovetop.

“We began with office furniture 20 years ago, so we still want to show that,” Herbert explained, as he slid both ends of the conference table apart and flipped a middle surface up to take the worksurface from eight to 12 feet.

“You guys look like you’re in an Apple commercial right now,” Deleon laughed. “While he’s doing that, watch out for your iPads, iPhones, watches—and body parts.”

But luckily, the controlled flipping mechanisms meant no smashed fingers or equipment.

Ernest is a traditional Flemish name and another nod to the company’s Belgian roots. It is also emblematic of the space and brands’ shared philosophy. “By definition, the word earnest embodies the collective’s core values,” Herbert said.

Ernest's showroom is designed not only to show a collective of brands, but also a variety of spaces. Guests enter and circle through the kitchen, office, living room, outdoor/lounge area, and media-rich experience room, garnering an understanding of how the products can be used in a variety of interiors. 

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