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Project No. 8b

by Brian Fichtner in Style on 29 July 2009

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Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer, the duo behind Various Projects, recently opened their second retail establishment, Project No. 8b, in lower Manhattan. A sibling to the couple's acclaimed women's wear boutique just blocks away, Project No. 8b's equally minimal interior houses a tightly edited selection of men's apparel and accessories, many of which hail from Europe.

Foregoing expensive or elaborate interior details, Brian and Elizabeth use utilitarian rolling racks, accentuated by a selection of vintage furnishings from the couple's private collection, along with a few potted plants to merchandise their wares. An alternating selection of e15, the German manufacturer of austere wood furniture, provides the perfect counterpoint to the clothing on-hand, which includes Bless and Kostas Murkudis from Berlin, Natalia Brilli from Paris, Hope from Sweden, Saskia Diez from Munich and Maison Martin Margiela, to name only a few. Sprinkled throughout the space are a variety of objects—a leather-covered skateboard by Brilli, sterling silver key tags by Various Projects and badminton rackets and shuttlecocks from Germany—which attest to both the couple's manifold interests and their curatorial abilities.

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Cool Hunting took a moment to ask Brian and Elizabeth a few questions about opening yet another store in New York and what Various Projects is up to next. Read below.

You just opened a new men's boutique mere blocks from your first store, Project No. 8. What on earth led you to do such a thing during a recession?
Yes. Excellent question. We did not necessarily plan the course in exactly that way. The wheels were set in motion some time ago and the build out of the space took much longer than anticipated. A big part of the process was dealing with NY's changes to building codes and regulatons that took effect right at the time we tried to get started.

It is not that interesting to too many people perhaps, but it seems that a big part of creating a space in NY are the long-form gymnastics involved in the paperwork and permitting process. We experienced it with Project No. 8 and it was an even greater challenge on No. 8b this time around. It makes trying new things difficult and costly. And why something as simple as a perfectly logical and efficient radiant floor as one example (Project No. 8) seems virtually impossible to accomplish. If something has not been done tens of thousands of times before, NY seems unable to say if it is okay to do. Again, very understandable in its own way, but equally frustrating and unfortunate.

Your original space was designed with a number of eco-conscious details in mind. What kind of design features define No. 8b?
Ah... yes. A perfect follow-up to the previous question. We would have loved to employ more of the same solutions we used in Project No. 8, but instead tried to focus on accomplishing some of the same issues while being conscious of a different set of needs in a different space.

Since No. 8b is not south facing like Project No. 8, passive solar energy is not as abundant. In addition, we were able to keep the original floor so that it made tearing it out to make a radiant floor seem like a bad solution. So we did simple things like place as many operable windows as possible in specific locations for air circulation throughout the summer and make use of the system of radiator heat that was already in place by adjusting location/placement throughout to make it more efficient and direct in the winter.

Interview continues with more images after the jump.

In the back office space, we found an interesting condition when we demo'd the space that allowed us to add a skylight the full length of the office to let in natural light and added all wool carpet so there is a sound transition from the front store space to the back office space. Since it's wool, there's no off-gassing. Other little things here and there, but if they feel too mundane to write about I can't imagine it would be that much fun to read about!

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What sets No. 8b apart from other men's boutiques?
Maybe only that it is our opinion as opposed to someone else's. And perhaps just as importantly, are the people who work with us: Lydia, Daniel, Nicholas, Janita, Cian, Viv. Who is in the space with you is as important as what is in the space.

We also really try to keep the space dynamic in the way that we feel all creative things ideally are. Changing, shifting, learning... Something like that.

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What's the experience been like designing apparel?
We have made men's shirts periodically and have made a very small number of women's pieces from the start. We've actually used Project No. 8 as a sort of laboratory in this way; making a few things when we got them to a place we felt good about, and then making small adjustments here and there along the way. It also gave us the opportunity to put them out there (literally) and see if anyone was interested. And although the quantities have always been small, we've consistently sold out, which has been encouraging.

We've wanted to do more of it, but finding a good local factory (with good labor practices) has been critical to us. We now feel like we are finally working with the right people on the right things. It seems super important to us as well, precisely because there are already plenty of people making great clothes (and we feel like we have the very good fortune to represent some of them). So, if we are going to add something to this category, we want it to be for a reason.

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You're also working on a shop connected to the new Ace Hotel in Midtown. How do you guys manage to sleep?
Yes. We have been working on a shop for the new Ace Hotel in New York. It has been ongoing for quite some time and we are hopefully getting closer at this point... And we don't sleep much honestly. Elizabeth is a bit of an insomniac and Brian just worries a lot. It's the "work hard, sleep's hard" theory. We get by, but sleep is a little elusive at the moment to be honest. It fuels our love of coffee.

Name one emerging designer we should keep an eye on.
One is impossible for us! But two is doable: Tom Scott and Christian Wijnants, both making new pieces for men. Oh, and another.... ___fabricsinterseason. It's not emerging, but new to NY.

Project No. 8b
38 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002 map
tel. +1 212 925 5599

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