Can you explain a little bit about the type of work you do here at Cooper-Hewitt as the Director of Retail?
I oversee the retail aspect of the museum which at the moment, due to the renovation, is focused on our on-line shop as well as pop-up shops such as the one we currently have on Governor’s Island in conjunction with the Graphic Design—Now In Production exhibition. My primary responsibility is merchandising, deciding what products we should carry.
What do you believe makes Cooper-Hewitt’s Shop unique from other museum “gift shops”?
Most museum shops are filled with mementos and souvenirs. We carry a curated collection of the best design in the world. Many design aficionados use us as their “go to” shop for gifts and personal items they cannot find elsewhere.
How do you and your team go about selecting merchandise for the store? What themes and goals do you keep in mind when creating your product selection?
That’s a very interesting question as we transition from being a brick and mortar shop in the museum to an online resource. Whereas in the museum we had a lot of smaller, impulse-buy type of items, online we have more considered pieces. We can also begin to offer larger items such as lighting and home furnishings since we do not have to physically display them.
Recently, the shop has launched its new e-commerce site. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
It is a complete renovation of the site including more engaging graphics, easier navigation, a more sophisticated checkout system, and more product background including video and other commentary. I think it really adds to the enjoyment of the shopping experience.
What is your all time favorite item that the shop has sold?
There really are so many. Right now I am on a big Aubock kick. In the 1940s, Carl Aubock made these wonderful, organic brass objects like bowls, bookends and other useful items that are totally functional as well beautiful works of art. I think we are going to see a big resurgence in the interest in him over the next eighteen months.
How do you think the Shop reflects both Cooper-Hewitt’s permanent collection, and current and past exhibitions?
Well we have lots of items that are either in our collection or based upon things that are in our collection. We always try to create exclusive things no one else has. For example, right now we are working with some of the winners of the 2012 National Design Awards on making some items we can launch this fall in conjunction with the awards.
What do you enjoy most about your job as Director of Retail for the Shop?
All of the beautiful things and creative people I get to work with.
If you could use three adjectives to describe Cooper-Hewitt’s Shop, what would they be?
Unique, surprising, discerning
Robert Nachman photographed with his favorite object, a dish made from a seashell.