The Design Curators Behind Coming Soon New York
Coming Soon New York is a unique boutique full of quirky design objects, charming furniture and gifts located in the Lower East Side in New York. Open since 2013, it prides itself on being a local fixture full of covetable objects, as much as a place to discover new and under-the-radar brands.
Helena Barquet and Fabiana Faria are the couple behind the business. The two, who have a background in working at an art gallery together, bring a sense of unity to the shop. Among affordable and tactile rugs by Cold Picnic, you can also find art and design books, stunning glass vases and furniture that will spark conversations.
Right after the New Year, we chatted with Helena and Fabiana as they were starting to think about what to stash away and what new pieces to bring into the store. The design mavens walked us through their inspirations, their process of working together and tips for finding the most special design pieces this year.
How did both of your pathways lead you to opening Coming Soon?
Fabiana: We first worked together in design at a high-end gallery, which was a great learning experience. We felt that the 1970’s and 80’s furniture designs we loved there either weren’t available at all, or weren’t available at good prices. We realised there was a space for them.
Helena: We really were adamant that we wanted to open something in this part of the Lower East Side and there was a little bit of romance in it. We’d only been together for a year – this was our little project and commitment to each other.
How would you describe Coming Soon to people who have never been there?
Helena: I usually describe it as a design store. We sell vintage furniture and contemporary home accessories, as well as a lot of gifts.
Fabiana: It was very hard for us to come up with the name. It took a long time because that’s what we wanted – for it to be something that would always be evolving and ‘coming soon’.
As you two work together, how do your different skill sets come together?
Helena: Style-wise, I tend to like a lot of things—usually, the wilder things, whereas Fabiana tends to be the editor who narrows it down. She knows when to say no, whereas I tend to say yes a lot.
Fabiana: Helena has done more with the visuals in-store and online has rested more on me – I’m less allergic to computers.
What's your process like when you’re curating different items for the store?
Helena: We’re constantly editing. Right after the holidays, we’re in a deep editing session deciding who’s sticking around and who we’re putting away until next year. We’re always inspired by colour and pick palettes we can base our photoshoots, upholstery and furniture around. In everything we do, we try to make things feel current.
Fabiana: When we started creating, it wasn’t like we had a specific aesthetic in mind but we knew what people were tired of five years ago – living in a very minimal world with all those white backdrops. People were ready to bring more fun into their lives.
"We’re always inspired by colour and pick palettes we can base our photoshoots, upholstery and furniture around. In everything we do, we try to make things feel current."
Are there any cool brands you think are doing great stuff right now?
Fabiana: Fashion designer Sandy Liang is doing an incredible job. She’s like our neighbour and we have a great relationship with her. Cold Picnic we adore too. They’re our friends and but aside from that, everything they make feels fresh and you just want it. It’s emotional when their pieces come into our store.
Helena: Chen Chen & Kai is another one – we’ve had them in store from day one. They’re young designers who are constantly pushing the boundaries. We’re also excited to work with ceramicist Risa Nishimori, who makes beautiful ceramics and porcelain cups in Manhattan. It’s fun to collaborate with her. She’ll be like, ‘what are you guys looking for?’ That’s super exciting.
Where do you get inspiration from at the moment?
Fabiana: Everywhere – it’s terrible to say that but it’s everything and everywhere. Art is always a huge inspiration. Helena is always pulling references from fashion too.
Helena: I just think fashion is always a couple of seasons ahead of everyone else and I love fashion, so, you know, there’s that.
Earlier you mentioned it was important to have this design shop on the Lower East Side. It's such a distinctive neighborhood. How do you think it influences the feel of your store?
Fabiana: Well, it allowed us to grow however we wanted and I think everyone here is free to be unique.
Helena: At the same time everything is of a very high standard – it’s a tough area to make it in because you just don’t have the traffic. Businesses are opening and closing all the time but it really is a neighborhood. We’re like Sesame Street – it feels like a little community. In that sense we are lucky when it comes to inspiration too, as there are so many interesting people who live and visit here.
"We are lucky when it comes to inspiration too, as there are so many interesting people who live and visit here."
What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
Helena: Oh, that’s a hard one. What would we be doing?
Fabiana: Well, you’d want to be on a beach somewhere.
Helena: Yeah. I think we’re fortunate that we have our own place and get to work in it the way we want to. It would probably still be something related to design for me, as that has proven to be the biggest passion of my life – even though I studied Art History.
Fabiana: I would maybe be in hospitality because of I very much like the helpful experience of that sort of thing.
Helena: Yes, and she’s a great cook.
Fabiana and Helena’s Top 3 Tips for Scouting the Best Home and Design Objects
1. I always think you should start with something that, for whatever emotional reason, you are drawn to.
2. It’s also fun to become a fan of, a time period, a person, or a look and go down that rabbit hole to see where that takes you. Start with one thing that captures you, whether it’s colour or form, and let that take you on a journey.
3. Other little stores or boutiques are usually at the forefront when giving people their first prototype or their first mini collection. Magazines are a good source for finding new brands too. Go to home stores with obscure magazines and sift through them all.