“They’re only $65 each so you could get one for each finger.” That’s how the high-end design store Moss, describes a ring made of kitchen-counter material Corian. But it turns out not so many consumers want to hand over $650 to festoon themselves in the latest high-brow costume jewelry. Nor are $22,000 couches flying off the shelf. They’re not selling well enough, at least, to keep the doors open at SoHo’s 18-year-old high-end design boutique, Moss.
The store, run by design curator Murray Moss and his partner Franklin Getchell, announced last week that its store on Greene and Houston will close February 17. The sour economy is the culprit, they say, adding that it has turned the store/gallery into a “free museum” that is therefore financially untenable.
In an entertaining Q&A interview in ArtInfo, Moss lays out the issue: “I feel that the gallery, in my opinion, doesn’t work. Something is wrong. Moss is not, in fact, a museum. It used to support itself very well financially, but people stopped buying things. Our customers, based on empirical evidence, were people who worked in the financial industries, so they just stopped buying.”
But he also sounds upbeat and enthusiastic about the next step, which is to find a lower-rent space to house a new venture called Moss Bureau, which will hawk consulting services, speaking events and host think tanks instead of selling high-end housewares and furnishings.
Moss is well known for bringing Tupperware back into vogue in New York during the 90s, when he began hosting Tupperware parties in the SoHo space. Perhaps the Moss Bureau can do the same for live events, where people listen and engage with each other (as opposed to tweeting and photographing). Moss says he wants the place to have a theatrical feel.
But where will cutting-edge designers now go to get discovered? And how will Moss and Getchell make a go off the new venture? As the New York Times notes: the new consultancy will “allow Mr. Moss to monetize his position as a design deity.”