A new designer movement is born in the Birthplace of America: After years of being neighbors in historic Old City, an epicenter for creatives, members of the design community organized to form the Philadelphia Design District. In the works for almost a year, the new organization is making its official debut next month with a launch party on April 13.
“[The goal] is to have everyone here long-term, and to keep the retail clients and designers coming to our neighborhood, shopping around, going to each showroom or gallery,” says Eugenie Perret, founder and co-owner of Minima, a contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories showroom in the new design district. “They can do it all in one neighborhood.”
The new organization has 10 founding members—Minima, Biello Martin Studio, Kellijane, Mode Moderne, Moderne Gallery, Parisa Rugs & Decor, Pentimenti Gallery, Petit Jardin en Ville, Society Hill Kitchens and Wexler Gallery—some of whom have been in the neighborhood for more than 10 years, and others who are newcomers to the area. These members will be the main businesses running the district, and new galleries and showrooms will have different responsibilities when they join.
Perret says the founding of the district came about after years of talking about it and collaborating together to curate exhibits for DesignPhiladelphia. Finally, in July 2017, they felt like the time was right and came together to start planning. Old City, the historic district they call home, has long been a major hub of art and design in Philadelphia.
“Old City was changing, from art galleries 30 years ago to more design stores in the last 10 years,” she adds. “And some have come and gone, but I was always talking with a few of my neighbors: ‘We would be so much stronger and put Philadelphia on the design map if we all started to collaborate.’”
Garden designer Claudia Roux, co-owner of Petit Jardin en Ville and one of the founding members of the district, is excited about what the district can do for Philadelphia’s design community. “Where we are located, Old City, it is a very vibrant area, so there is a really strong design dynamic,” she says. “There are a lot of independent stores in our area, not just design stores alone, but there is also retail and fashion. We really are the center of independent design.”
As the organization develops and grows, Roux says they are planning to host collaborative events and educate the public on art and design. Perret adds that not only do they want to host opening parties, but they plan to bring in designers and furniture makers for lectures and to host book signings, for example.
“We want to have events and education for the public so they can see really good art and design, and be able to interact with it,” Roux says.
The Philadelphia Design District’s first official event is a launch party on April 13 at The Bridge, a new building designed by New York City architecture firm Gluck+. Mona Ross Berman Interiors will curate an exhibit for the party with products from the member showrooms, and galleries will showcase their offerings.