When is a room not a room? When it's a catalogue. Sound confusing? Get this: ROOM is a New York City-based catalogue created two years ago by former House & Garden style editor Amy Crain. A magazine collector and inveterate shopper frustrated by the lack of chic and affordable offerings, Crain set out to produce three dazzling catalogues per year, highlighting clean-lined, well-made furniture and accessories designed exclusively for ROOM by young up-and-coming talents.
The result: more publicity than Pamela Anderson could ever dream of, an expanding client base, and an avid following of ROOM groupies (ROOMies?), many of whom don't buy from the catalogue but collect every issue, which sells for three dollars. Often compared with the so-swank-it's-difficult-to-read British shelter publication Wallpaper, ROOM is impeccably styled and photographed. It distinguishes itself from the magazine, however, by concentrating on interiors and wares that actually seem suited for everyday living, and offering engagingly written and pleasantly laid-out descriptions that are first and foremost reader friendly.
Even more accessible is the fact that ROOM now has a retail showroom of its own in Miami's Design District. It's not a sprawling affair, just a modest, uh, room displaying a carefully edited selection of items. (A 5000-square-foot store is set to open in New York City next month.) Established in late January by furniture and interior designer Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque, the Miami outpost with its stark white walls offers interior design services and also features one of Arcila-Duque's passions: photographs. A series of rotating exhibitions began with an array of sensual black-and-white plant-life photos by former fashion lenswoman Iran Issa-Kahn. This Friday ROOM presents tranquil images by acclaimed interior photographer Fernando Bengoechea. No shots of chairs or lamps will hang on the walls among the real chairs and lamps, though, just exquisitely composed scenes of landscapes, plants, people, and animals from his trips all over the world.
That same week the publication of ROOM's spring catalogue will also be celebrated with a new collection of furnishings, veering away from the usual neutral tones. "We'll have a lot of color," says Arcila-Duque excitedly. "We got very inspired by Miami with greens and blues and reds. It will be like a fruit punch of furniture!" Colorful goods you can easily order through the catalogue and have in a week. Or take them with you -- right off the floor.