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Local Intelligence | New York

Craft & Conciousness Words by Peter J. Frank

Price’s preference for the hand-crafted extends to the food she eats. “I always look for something made with love—you can taste the difference.”

Renée Price may preside over the Neue Galerie, an Upper East Side gem housing Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and other masterpieces of 20th-century German and Austrian art. But it’s the museum shop that the director refers to as “my baby.” Price personally curates the boutique’s unusual offerings, filing it with local discoveries and finds from trips to Europe, Turkey, and Asia. Her approach reflects a passion for objects and experiences that, in Price’s words, are “swimming against the tide” of the manufactured and machine-made. Here, she shares other hometown favorites that fit a similarly hand-crafted mold.

Shops

De Vera is my favorite store in all of New York City,” says Price of the cabinet-of-curiosities-style gallery in SoHo, its collection of jewelry, sculptures, and curios impeccably curated by Federico de Vera. “You can spend hours in there, discovering things, learning from the atmospheres he creates.” Price has commissioned De Vera to design several exhibits at the Neue Galerie, including a 2014 show on Egon Schiele’s portraits.

Another frequent collaborator is Selima Salaun, the French-Tunisian eyewear designer whose Selima Optique has several locations in New York (as well as Paris). “She has beautiful frames that she designs herself,” says Price, along with vintage frames and leather goods. Saulan, whom Price refers to as “one of the grande dames of Soho,” has designed a series of frames sold at the museum, inspired by Sigmund Freud, Blue Angel–era Marlene Dietrich, and Schiele.

Restaurants

Price’s preference for the hand-crafted extends to the food she eats. “I always look for something made with love—you can taste the difference.” As an example, she cites Candle 79, a longstanding favorite for organic, vegan food on the Upper East Side. “I love the integrity” of the restaurant, she says. “It’s not trendy, but everything is seasonal and fresh.”

Similarly, the downtown Japanese restaurant Omen represents the triumph of quality over modishness. “It’s old-school SoHo: small and austere, not unlike a ryokan or Japanese country inn, with beautiful hand-made pots and platters on display. I usually go with artist or architect friends.”

Bohemian, a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, is another under-the-radar favorite with an unusual reservations policy. “It’s hidden behind a Japanese butcher on Great Jones Street,” Price explains. “You can’t get in unless they ‘accept’ you—or you have to know some who has already eaten there. It attracts a very eclectic crowd, and it’s like eating in someone’s living room.” Beef, particularly the Wagyu steak, and seafood are specialties.

More recommendations

A few more favorites of Price that reveal the hand of their makers:

Sidney Garber, the legendary Chicago jeweler recently revitalized by the founder’s daughter (who donates her profits to charity).

Sabah Studio, where shoe designer Mickey Ashmore sells the hand-crafted leather slippers he imports from Turkey.

Dosa, Christina Kim’s line of eco-conscious clothing, textiles, and housewares, all of them created by artisans in India, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Apothéke, a speakeasy-style bar located in a former opium den in Chinatown, with cocktails that often contain absinthe, herbs, and botanicals.

Union Square Greenmarket, where professional chefs and home cooks alike procure fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farmers, dairies, bakers, and other producers.

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