The cult design emporium Moss in SoHo will close on Feb. 17. Opened by Murray Moss in 1994, the store elevated product design to high art through museum-style displays and thematic exhibitions. The store’s website says, “The shop intentionally looks and feels like a museum, with everything locked behind glass or raised onto platforms. It’s cold. It’s white. The music is tense. The selling staff wear dark monotone clothing.”
Originally a smaller space on Greene Street near Houston, Moss expanded in 1999 to nearly 7,000 square feet when Murray’s partner, former TV producer Franklin Getchell, joined the business. The two added furniture by such designers as Isamu Noguchi and Hella Jongerius to the mix. Moss expanded again in January 2005, adding Moss Gallery, where thematic exhibitions of products have been held. In May 2006, with restaurateur Nicola Marzovilla, Moss opened Centovini, an Italian restaurant and wine shop on Houston, for which Murray received the Travel & Leisure award for best new restaurant design.
Simply by presenting objects in a high-design context, the store could transform items like Tupperware or Nymphenburg figurines into objets d’art. Moss would pair such objects as a student drawing by Le Corbusier of a gridded arrangement of rooms and a chest of drawers held together by a strap by the Dutch firm Droog. As he explained to New York Magazine, “They are two different ways of achieving orderliness.”
Moss told the New York Times that high overhead and lagging sales led him and Getchell “to conclude that they were running ‘a free museum.'” The two plan to open a smaller space, location to be determined. They will also launch a design consultancy called Moss Bureau.