Rarely does a shop on the garden level of a Brooklyn brownstone shine, but the interior of Rosanne Pugliese’s jewelry store delivers a surprising exception. Although the retail space is all of 500 square feet, there is ample room to take in the sparkling accents of gold and semi-precious stones as well as other carefully curated merchandise. Pugliese collaborated with her friend, interior designer Julia Mack, to convert what once was a very un-Brooklyn Heights massage parlor into a crisp and inviting backdrop for her handcrafted jewelry.
“The original inspiration for the jewelry, which is a combination of rough and raw mixed with an elegant, refined blend of those things, shows in the shop as well,” explains Pugliese. “I never try to be too precious.” When Pugliese and Mack began planning the interior they steered instinctively away from anything too feminine or delicate. Their main intent was to let the jewelry shine while remaining true to the original space.
Mack selected an industrial-blue paint color for the walls, a blue that would pair well with gold. “The color and material selections were based on balancing the industrial nature of the space with the delicate merchandise being manufactured and sold,” says Mack. “This was accomplished by incorporating a swirly wallpaper accent wall (which reminds me of Venetian bookbinding paper of Renaissance Italy) with an industrial blue-gray paint color for the remaining walls.”
The back of the shop consists of two surfaces: a curtain made of heavy strands of brass beads, which provides Pugliese and her assistants access to the office and workshop, and an accent wall papered in smoky blue and gold, from Calico. The wallpaper delineates the front desk area and gives a sought-after gracefulness that balances the raw pipes and brick walls. The curtain, made by Shimmer Screen, acts like jewelry itself, decorative yet functional.
Mack worked with the radiator pipes rather than attempting to disguise them. She kept the wall simple, painting it blue to blend with the skin, and fitted a mirror, shelves, and artwork. A seasonal line of lifestyle and gift items such as handbags, fine perfume, framed prints, vintage jewelry, and candles, keeps the merchandise fresh throughout the year.
The build-out began in the middle of winter and at first the looming radiator pipes seemed to dominate the room. “The jewelry looked really small next to it,” recalls Mack. “The ceiling also felt very low. We had some proportion issues to work through.” Neighbor and shop owner Brian Cousins, of Hollander and Lexer on Atlantic Avenue, suggested they use the pipes in some way. A try at hanging pieces of jewelry from them did not pan out, but it did get them thinking of how to notch in a wood-framed mirror as well as custom steel shelving in order to use the wall as a display area.
Wall-mounted display cases were custom made by metalsmith Andrew Hunt at Industry City.
The lighting also presented a key consideration. Pugliese worked with Perla Delson, of Delson or Sherman, to design the track lighting for the displays, and Mack applied her theory of light layers to the space. With the tracks illuminating from the ceiling, Mack positioned a hanging chandelier (from BoConcept) near the front window, which is left on at night, and placed table lamps throughout to provide the lower stratum. These carefully chosen light sources, along with furnishings brought from Pugliese’s own house nearby, completes a retail space that is nothing but intimate and homey while ever a serious shop for fine wares.
The true industry happens behind the brass-chain curtain in a back room that Pugliese has construed as a workshop. There, at a large wooden worktable (brought from her previous studio in Dumbo) and with just the right amount of equipment, Pugliese makes all of her jewelry by hand. She collaborates with an assistant to help intersect fine wires of gold with an endlessly stylish mix of tones and color: aquamarine, green garnet, moonstone, opal, amethyst, and smoky topaz, to name only a few.
These days in Brooklyn, it has become normal to find shops that have built-in workspaces, the way craftspeople around the world have worked for hundreds of years. “You could go to India fifty years ago and find a workman who was set up in a similar way,” laughs Pugliese. She certainly has discovered a fitting balance of traditional and new when it comes to operating a shop, creating what she sells onsite in an elegant and welcoming Brooklyn interior.
Rosanne Pugliese, 307 Henry Street, Brooklyn, 718-624-6546
Photographs by Michel Arnaud
Post by Anne Hellman