Forget just “working from home” – for Rayon Roskar and Ellie Kim, their work actually is their home, as well as their daily passion. The duo, with respective credentials in restoration and art history, reside in their Bed-Stuy apartment which doubles as the storeroom for their furniture restoration business, a setup they have dubbed their “living gallery.”
Essentially, every item in the pristine living space is an expertly curated and restored piece for sale, minus the bed and handful of articles of clothing hanging neatly in the apartment’s bedroom partition.
The motive for merging a workspace with a living space is partly economical, as it cuts down on expensive gallery overheads and transportation costs. It is a practice common among furniture dealers in Geneva, where the Rayon Roskar business was born and is also currently based. The Brooklyn “living gallery,” however, takes the concept to another level. “We keep our storeroom and our home as you see it at all times, just because Ellie and I are both very tidy and minimal … we own what we need,” says Roskar.
“The way we work matches with our personalities, it’s how we grew up, so it’s innate to us … I never really thought about it, it was so natural,” added Kim.
A further purpose for the space lays in a passion for the objects themselves, and a desire to “provide clients with the full experience.” By engaging a piece of furniture in daily use, the couple gets to fully know the quirks of living with a unique piece that’s not apparent when the item sits in storage. So when a client comes to their storeroom, they can see not only what an item looks like, but also how it can be displayed in a context and learn the specifics of how it should be cared for.
According to Roskar, being lived-with can also imbue a piece with “the characteristic of the people, of the room, of whoever’s handling it,” preventing a restored piece of furniture from looking overtly restored.
The couple, who met at a design fair in Switzerland, describe themselves as “collectors who do not collect.” Though they specialize in European design pieces from the 1930s to 1980s, they have only one strict rule for items they acquire – they must love it.
“If you can’t sell it, you’d better love it, because you have to live with it,” says Roskar.