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Art Story

Pratt students have the run of Rachel Shechtman's magazine-style boutique

by James Thorne in Culture on 22 March 2013

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One of the things we've always loved about StoryRachel Shechtman's ever-changing store in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood—is that every iteration is a story in and of itself. Her latest venture is Art Story, a concept shop created with the help of Art.com and a group of eight masters students of interior design at Pratt Institute. Project leaders LuzElena Wood and Kelly Rosen worked as part of a team of eight graduating students, collectively making the jump from classroom to client meetings.

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"We're interior design students, so our studios aren't meant for building stuff like this," says Wood, referencing a trio of wooden A-frames that serve as dividing walls in the space. With only a three-week turnaround from meetings to opening, the group was forced to get creative with their limited space on the Pratt campus. Their challenges were helped along by Pratt professor Jon Otis, who lives above the Story space and was able to set up the opportunity for Shechtman and the students to work together.

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"There are people who are more comfortable with the space planning and the big picture stuff, and there are people who prefer to be working out the details," says Wood. "That's one of the strengths of having a team of people." The group was tasked with dealing with two clients and creating a narrative for Art.com that fit with Story's overall arc. In designing the layout, the students aimed to create three separate experiences.

The entry space is defined by the rear wall, which has been plastered with art bric-a-brac. "The supplies are from Pratt students, stuff that was lying around," explains Wood. One of the challenges the group faced was elevating the democratic prints by referencing the artistic process. "The prints were made by the hand of the artist," says Rosen. "These are the things we find in an artist's studio or tools they would use to create the piece."

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A second space features a series of miniature galleries, each curated by notable art and design figures. Design Milk founder Jaime Derringer's modernist installment is an especially adept distillation of Art.com's massive archive.

Beyond the small galleries is a domestic-style space that provides decorative ideas for the home in a close interplay between art and object. One of the biggest challenges for the students was in finding the balance between retail and gallery space where both could thrive.

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"Art Story" will run through 16 April 2013. In the meantime, Wood, Rosen and the other 18 students in Pratt's Exhibition Design Intensive program have other projects to complete before their May graduation.

Images by James Thorne

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