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March 30, 2010

Unique New York Gallery Shop

Michael Turek

Partners & Spade, a collection of serendipitous discoveries and perfect oddities—all for sale—may just alter the way we see shopping.

“It’s a shop, not a gallery,” says Andy Spade of Partners & Spade, the downtown Manhattan retail space/office he opened this year. Still, visitors would be wise to request the guided tour. How else to explain the crayons and questionnaires in one drawer (a little interactive fun for 50 cents, from the artist Sidra Durst), the vintage trophies lining a corner wall (backdated “confidence awards,” from $75), and the trompe l’oeil fireplace at the entrance (a custom service for all those nonworking Manhattan mantles, from $1,600). Then there is the matter of the man in the front window: One fall afternoon, it was the artist Jason Polan drawing any picture handed to him by a customer, for $20; in April, it was a CPA preparing income-tax forms for free. There are also abstract piñatas by the New York collective Confetti System (from $250), a crocheted “umbrella” brought back from India by the artist Gordon Hull ($200), a case of limited-edition K-Swiss sneakers trimmed in neon orange (a collaboration with Partners & Spade, $80), vintage globes (including one made in 1914 for the Cartier boardroom, $14,000), and rare Japanese photography books from the sixties (from $1,500). “Everything has a story,” says Spade’s business partner, Anthony Sperduti. “We wanted it to feel like a very contemporary natural history museum.” Spade and Sperduti, who collaborated on concept shops like the J. Crew men’s Liquor Store and the Jack Spade and Kate Spade boutiques, kept the space, a former metalworks workshop, raw with concrete floors and brick walls and created simple displays that encourage customer interaction. Every drawer is meant to be opened; vitrines are left unlocked for easy access. Shoppers need to look in, up, and under the counters, as every place holds something to buy and the inventory is constantly changing. While in St.-Tropez, Spade’s wife, Kate, found oversize edible candy “faces” ($200). They’re now in the drawer next to the crayons. For the first three full weekends in November, the back room, which serves as the partners’ office during the week, will transform into a confectionary kitchen, with the artist Will Cotton—known for his surreal candy landscapes—baking and selling party cakes and macarons in lemon, pistachio, pumpkin, salted caramel, lavender, and chocolate curry.

Partners & Spade is at 40 Great Jones St.; open Monday to Friday by appointment only, 12 p.m.–7 p.m. on Saturdays, 12 p.m.–6 p.m. on Sundays (646-861-2827; partnersandspade.com).