Apr 16, 2018

Flatiron Faces: Tim Markman, Guest Experience Manager, The NoMad Hotel

Meet Tim Markman, Guest Experience Manager at The NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway, between 27th and 28th Streets. "I have to say I have never seen anything like the magic that we create here at The NoMad Hotel...the neighborhood has long been a favorite place of mine to roam around. It’s such a beautiful place that feels very “New York”, just how I imagined it would be when I was growing up in Kansas. To me this area felt like what I saw in all the movies and magazines."

1. Late last year, you became the Guest Experience Manager at The NoMad Hotel. Can you share your path to the hospitality industry?

My move to NYC was originally motivated in pursuit of a career in the theater. Once I got here, I needed to find a survival job, and after scouring Craigslist for work, I came across a new hotel opening up in need of bellmen. Little did I know this new hotel would become the iconic property that The Standard, High Line is today. It was a wild ride there and so amazing to be a part of a property pre-opening. I got the chance to work with an incredible team, most of whom I am still quite close with today. Quickly I fell more in love with the world of hospitality and took an open position on their concierge team. I had to switch gears and focus solely on this job as it was quite time-consuming to get to know this city that literally never sleeps. I slowly became more of a leader of the concierge team, and spent over three years in the role of Head Concierge. After eight and a half years at the same hotel, I got to mix it up a bit. I spent last summer out in Montauk as Hotel Manager at The Surf Lodge, where I got to wear many different hats. The chance to work at a seasonal property, which was much smaller than my previous hotel, gave me a great perspective on what I was capable of, in terms of Guest Experience. Being the small world that it is, the same person who hired me as a bellmen all those years ago reached out about this new role here at The NoMad Hotel.

2. Describe your first few months on the job and around the neighborhood.

It was a little crazy at first diving in around the holiday season, but I had such an incredible support team with my staff. Everyone at this hotel is incredibly service-minded that I knew it was a good fit for me. I had the luxury of a great staff, most of whom have been here since the beginning, and wonderful upper management that are willing to do whatever they have to fulfill the guests' needs. I have to say I have never seen anything like the magic that we create here at The NoMad Hotel. It was a lot of getting to know every inch of this building, but the neighborhood has long been a favorite place of mine to roam around.

3. You were an expert panelist at the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s recent “Meet the Concierge” event and offered the following advice: “It always come down to one sole thing: the power of a good relationship and finding that connection with a concierge.” What makes this so important to you?

Relationships are everything in New York City. If you don't connect with a guest and form a valid relationship, then you've lost them. I was applying this advice to businesses looking to strengthen their bond with a concierge team. Over my many years as a concierge, I remember those people who came by time and time again, and who truly showed an appreciation for our business. When you just blindly call a front desk or send an email, then it gets lost in the shuffle.

4. The event was produced with local businesses in mind. How can businesses within the Flatiron District get on the radar of local hotel concierges?   

Every business has their own unique thing to offer, so my biggest piece of advice is that they take a look at where they fit in with the clientele of whatever particular hotel you are looking to target. It’s great to come in with an educated opinion and it doesn’t put the pressure on the concierge team to find a reason for them to recommend you. Getting a card made or having something on hand does make it a bit easier for us to pass along at the desk, but I would first try speak with someone at the hotel and get their feedback on if this would be helpful. The best way to get on the radar is to lead with the experience. It’s always beneficial when you can get them into your establishment so they know what they’re recommending.

5. On social media, you’ve posted that you’re a “strong believer of conscious hospitality.” Tell us more.

Hospitality is about tailoring service to each individual guest. Everyone responds differently to things and the most important one is to pick up on what they like. Coming from a background in theater, I learned how to be intuitive and create a guest’s experience based on how I read the guest. I lead with a certain cadence, but I let that shift depending on how the interaction unfolds. I try to always do my best so they are made to feel special. For instance, we all love to walk in to our local drinking hole where the bartender knows what you like without even asking. I think we attempt to go a bit deeper than that in our hotel, because people’s preferences change over time. Someone may be on a new diet or lifestyle change, so you never know if they want that same bottle of rosé we always have waiting chilled in the room for them. The key is having someone in my role who is constantly checking in with them to make sure everyone is happy. 

6. What are some of the questions you are asked most often by guests? And, which questions have surprised you at The NoMad?

You really never know what a guest is going to ask you, and we don't get a ton of repeat questions because most of our guests are pretty savvy. That said, I think travelers are often asking about shopping destinations and what the best clothing stores are nearby. Luckily, we have an incredible boutique right within our walls called WANT Apothecary. They carry an incredible selection of clothes and unique and interesting scents and skincare. WANT Les Essentials has long been one of my favorite brands, and I think they do simple things that feel quite sophisticated.

7.  Switching gears, when you have a free moment, where do you like to eat in the neighborhood? Do you have a go-to dish there?

Black Barn is absolutely one of my favorite places to go back to time and time again. The service is outstanding, and it's a big beautiful space that often has great live music serenading the diners. They have an incredible menu that is always changing throughout the seasons, so it's hard to pick one thing. The grilled baby octopus is certainly one of my favorites, but if I'm being honest, my go-to dish there would have to be the "Bottomless Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar" at brunch.

8. What do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the neighborhood? Do you have any insider tips you offer guests?

I think it all depends on the type of person you are, but for me, as a book lover, my "must-see" place is Rizzoli Bookstore. This store has had a few different locations over the 54 years it's been in business, but each more beautiful than the next. It is so iconic and with independent bookstores being a dying thing across America, it's amazing that a NYC institution like this can be kept alive. As far as insider tips go, we are full of them at our concierge desk. We take pride in not only providing one with places to go for dinner, but always recommending a nearby watering hole for a pre-drink or a digestif. It's important to customize a guest's experience and not just give them what they ask for, but go the extra step and offer up something more. Patent Pending has been one of our new favorites as it's a coffee shop by day, and then at night, you take a hidden door through the back of the coffee shop into a secret bar with drinks inspired by the infamous Nikola Tesla, who once occupied the building. 

9. Other than the Beaux-Arts beauty of The NoMad Hotel, what’s your favorite building or architectural element in the area? 

The Baudouine Building across the street is a favorite of mine. From the windows of our rooms, you see this beautiful temple on top of the building. It has these huge columns and even though the building could use a good power washing, there's something about those layers of soot that gives it its charm. 

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District

Historic. Elegant. Magical.

Photo Credit: Nadia Quinn

Mar 20, 2018

Flatiron Faces: Nolan Walsh & Connor Wilson of Thursday Boot Company

Flatiron Faces: Nolan Walsh & Connor Wilson, Co-Founders, Thursday Boot Company

Meet Nolan Walsh (left in photo) and Connor Wilson (right in photo), Co-Founders of the Thursday Boot Company, located at 48 West 21st Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Walsh, a native of Las Vegas, and Wilson, who hails from Lone Tree, Colorado, were Columbia Business School classmates checking out the waves in Central America when they were inspired to start the Thursday Boot Company.

1. The idea for Thursday Boot Company was sparked while you were on a surfing trip in Nicaragua. Describe that initial idea, as well as the inspiration behind the brand name.

We were watching the waves come in, talking about what we wanted to do with our lives. That was the moment when everything came together, where we realized that we shared a lot of the same values and wanted to work together. Thursday is the unofficial start of the weekend and when we thought about our daily lives in NYC, we needed footwear that was versatile enough to handle everything from business meetings, to drinks with friends, to nights out on the town. That of idea of Thursday just fit for exactly the kind of products we wanted to build.

2. You raised $275,000 on Kickstarter to fund the launch of Thursday Boot Company. That was nine times your $30,000 goal. What made your fundraising so successful?

On a very basic level, it was an idea whose time had come. The legacy brands are just rehashing the same models from a hundred years ago and all offer some bad combination of footwear that is either uncomfortable, fragile, ugly, expensive, or bulky. We knew that if we could build footwear that was comfortable, durable, and versatile at a great value to our customers, we'd be fixing a big problem. Another part of it was that we were just so persistently passionate about making this dream work, that I think a lot of people got as excited as we did and wanted to see us succeed. That community enthusiasm has been critical to our mission of bringing quality back to footwear.

3. The company has been an online retailer since 2014. What prompted you to open a showroom in the Flatiron District last fall?

Before we arrived in Flatiron, we had customers coming up to our office all the time, asking to try on pairs that we didn't have in stock. It reached the point where we decided we needed a space where people can try on pairs to experience the comfort and see the quality of the leather and construction in person. We found this amazing sixth floor loft on 21st Street with a view of the Empire State Building and floor-to-ceiling windows that was perfect for us. The response has been amazing. We wanted to create an engaging space that showcases the quality of our products, while still creating a comfortable working environment for our team. It's a very relaxed, authentic place where we can grab a coffee, work on new designs, and chat up customers all in the same place. 

4. Thursday boots are worn in all 50 states and nearly 60 countries. Why do you think boots are such a popular style choice, and what your bestsellers? 

Done right, boots should be a staple of anyone's wardrobe. They are comfortable enough to wear all day long, tough enough to stand up to whatever the weather throws at you, and classic enough that you can pair them with everything from jeans to a suit. For the men, you really can't go wrong with the Captain, which is a classic cap-toe boot. On the women's side, our Duchess has been a sleeper hit among the style mavens.

5. You only partner with manufacturers and suppliers who are consistent with the core values of your company. What are they?

We want to only work with the highest quality partners, which means not only that they consistently craft the best quality products, but also that they are committed to ethical business practices—environmental stewardship, workplace safety, and fair treatment of employees. We specifically like to point to our tanneries, Horween Leather Company in Chicago, where their water filtration system actually produces cleaner water than they draw from the city, and LE FARC in Léon, Guanajuato, Mexico, which is gold-rated for sustainability by the Leather Working Group. We try to bring that same level of craft, care, and deliberateness to everything we do.

6. Nolan, you’ve also been a Flatiron District resident for nearly a decade. What do you like about living and working here?

When I originally moved here, I immediately felt at home. The area has been rapidly evolving and there is a spirit of freshness and history entwined throughout every block. The energy and hopefulness of the Flatiron District is palpable and a great source of inspiration for me. Its convenience and liveliness make it a great hub for all resident New Yorkers. Hopefully rents stay manageable, as I'm not sure I will ever be able to live anywhere else!

7. Since you both spend a lot of time here, where do you go for food? Do you have a go-to dish there?

Nolan: We are big fans of variety. La Pecora Bianca NoMad is my morning meeting go-to. by CHLOE, Dos Toros Taqueria, Inday, Shake Shack, and Mad. Sq. Eats in warmer months are some of our many lunch favorites. For dinner, we often find ourselves at Eataly, wagamama, or The Smith.

Connor: Agreed on all the above. Appropriately enough, the Flatiron Steak at Cote is also delicious.

8. What do you consider a “must-see” or “must-do” here in the neighborhood?

Nolan: SPiN is a favorite staple for team events. Bonding over ping pong and drinks is always a good time. There is also no better place to watch a game than the Bounce Sporting Club and Slate. The best part about Flatiron is that there is ample variety, so it is easy to experience a lot without cumbersome travel time on busy NYC streets.

Connor: On a warm summer night, grab a beer and a burger outside of Shake Shack in Madison Square Park while you catch up with friends. This works best after a run along the Hudson or East River.

9. What’s your favorite building or architectural element in the area?

Can we be obvious? Daniel Burnham is an inspiration, as is one of his most famous buildings. The way the sun hits the Flatiron Building just before sunset never fails to impress.

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

 New York Nice.

Photo Credit: Nick Urteaga

Feb 12, 2018

Flatiron Faces: Peter Manning, Menswear Designer

Flatiron Faces: Peter Manning, Menswear Designer 

Meet Peter Manning, menswear designer and founder of Peter Manning NYC. Located at 933 Broadway, between 21st and 22nd Streets, Manning creates classic fashions for men 5 feet 8 inches and under. “We believe,” says the New York City native Manning, “that well-fitting, well-proportioned clothes that fit properly never go out of style.”

1. You design clothing for the “not so tall” guy. Prior, you were a Tony Award-winning producer and real estate developer. What was your motivation to start the company that bears your name?

It was pretty simple. I just wanted clothes that fit and was tired of taking everything to the tailor and paying the "tailor tax." It seemed crazy that no one was making clothes for "not-so-tall" guys. There are a lot of us! 

2. Describe the style of Peter Manning NYC.

We make classic American sportswear that fits. We are stylish but we don't try to impose a certain style on our guy. The range of our customer is so broad, from 19 to 92, and we want them all to make the clothes their own. 

3. You created a fit guide for your brand. How did that come about?

The sizing and grading was based on instinct and using height, weight, and proportions as a guide. Other men’s sizing, for example, small, medium, large, etc., meant something in menswear and so would have been confusing for us to use. We have refined the sizing over the years and added sizes, based on customer feedback, but the core sizing concept has remained the same. We also offer five inseams of 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30 inches.  Anything below 30 is almost never offered in menswear.   

4. What are your best selling items?

Really, everything we offer sells. Our guy needs everything. However, pants are our biggest seller, followed by outerwear, tailored clothing, and shirting.  

5. What do you consider essential clothing items every guy should own?

A great pair of well-fitting dark indigo jeans, a good chino, a perfect white shirt, a navy blazer (no brass buttons!), a well-cut dress pant, a good suit, a top-notch shoe, and a great topcoat.  Of course, there are more, but with those things you can pretty much get by in any situation. 

6. You began the business as an online venture in 2012 before opening your NYC Fit Shop in the Flatiron District last year. What prompted the move to brick and mortar, and why Flatiron?

We had previously been in a sixth floor office/studio and warehouse in a loft building in Brooklyn’s DUMBO, and we carved out a dressing room and fitting area there. People would come to us from all over the country, and the world! We knew that we needed a more accessible Fit Shop and focused on the Flatiron District because of its central location and vibrancy. We found the most extraordinary space at 933 Broadway and have loved being here. The Fit Shop is a place where customers can come and work with us and figure out their sizing and shop, but we ship everything from our warehouse. So, we are not a traditional brick and mortar store.

7. Do you have a go-to place for food here in the Flatiron District? Favorite dish?

There are so many great options, but we are busy, so I am usually picking something up and eating at my desk. I love soups from Pret A Manger, salads from Dig Inn, and delicious bowls from INDAY

8. What do you consider a “must-see” or “must-do” here in the neighborhood?

I love what has happened with Madison Square Park and a stroll there is always refreshing. At some point, you have to stand on line at Shake Shack. I love their burgers and fries and standing on line has become an iconic neighborhood activity.  

9. What’s your favorite building or architectural element in the area?

The architecture along Broadway is sublime, and we can see the Clock Tower at the MetLife Building out our window and I love that. Of course, being near the Flatiron Building is really special. I never tire of it. 

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Vibrant. Urban. Eclectic.  

Jan 16, 2018

Flatiron Faces: Ann Ogden Gaffney, Author & Founder, Cook for Your Life

Meet Flatiron-based Ann Ogden Gaffney, author and founder of Cook for Your Life, a nutritional program that offers free in-person and online cooking classes for cancer survivors. “Cook for Your Life was created,” says the UK native, former fashion designer/consultant, and two-time cancer survivor, “to help those in how to use healthy cooking to alleviate side effects, eat well through treatment, and enjoy a healthy, tasty survivorship.”

1. You were inspired to create the non-profit organization Cook for Your Life (CFYL) as a two-time cancer survivor. Describe your role and explain how CFYL helps cancer survivors with the use of food and nutrition. 

When I was first diagnosed with kidney cancer, I had surgery to remove the offending organ. I didn’t have to follow-up with chemotherapy or any other brutal treatment beyond CAT scans. It was easy to feel I’d dodged a bullet and go back to my life in the fashion world. The second time around it was very different. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which demanded aggressive treatment and meant more surgery, chemo, and radiation. I realized early on that I wouldn’t be able to keep working as much, since so much of what I did involved travel, and decided to take a hiatus to concentrate on my treatment and taking care of myself. Taking this break changed my life.

Food is very important to me. As I got into the rhythm of my chemotherapy, I would cook on my best days to prepare for my worst. Chemo had changed my sense of taste, so I started to experiment with new flavors to combat it. Long story short, I learned to beat most of my side effects through food. I started to share this new knowledge with my support group and chemo buddies, and quickly realized that there was a huge gap between getting dietary advice from the nutritionist and its application in the home kitchen.

Most oncology nutritionists only have the time to deal with the sickest patients, and giving patients advice on how to cook healthy food is a very different skill set from clinical nutrition, especially since these days so many people lack basic cooking skills. Working with my hospital, I started free classes to teach patients and survivors the basics–knife skills, what healthy foods are, and easy ways to cook them.

 2. You’re also the author Cook for Your Life, an award-winning cookbook, which categorizes recipes based on patient needs. Tell us more. 

When I was going through my own treatment, I found that most cookbooks written for cancer patients were, in fact, written by folks who had never experienced cancer treatment themselves. The content was either promising too much in the realm of food as medicine, or dully academic in style. All were classic in layout and overly complicated. You’d have to really search to find anything to suit how you might be feeling. The authors didn’t take into account the effects of the enormous fatigue, nausea and taste changes that most chemo patients experience. One book I was given had a soup with over 17 ingredients to prep, nutritious without a doubt, but someone who feels tired merely getting from the couch to the fridge is not going to attempt making it, nor is a caregiver strapped for time.

I wanted my book to use my own experience to address how people actually feel during cancer treatment and what they may need as they go through it. And because cancer can be isolating, I also wanted to make the food family-friendly so that patients and loved ones could eat the same meal at the same table together. To this end, I created different chapters to address food by feeling and needs, as in Simple–easy, tasty, dishes that are quick to put together if you either are tired, or a caregiver with little time; Soothing–the chicken soup chapter with real comfort foods that soothe the insides while tasting really good; Safe–for those with neutropenia and who can only eat cooked foods; Spicy–dishes to combat taste changes–many cancer patients crave spicy foods; Sweet–to provide some healthy(ier) solutions for the sweet tooth that often comes with chemo; Staples - for pantry basics; Scrumptious–to move into survivorship. When it was nominated for a James Beard Award, I actually thought someone was pulling my leg, but they weren’t, and I was over the moon when the book won the 2016 Books For A Better Life Award.

3. What are some of your favorite featured dishes?

There are a ton of good recipes in the book, whether you are sick or not. I have to say among my favorites dishes are the Fish Tacos and the Beet Risotto, but my absolute favorite is the Poached Chicken Pot Au Feu aka Miracle Chicken, which is a recipe passed down from my Italian grandma, to my mom, and on to me. It can cure anything–almost!

4. You’ve been cooking since the age of 12. How did that start, and what do you enjoy about the kitchen?

I come from a foodie family. My mother was Italian, her father was a chef, of my uncles, one was also a chef and the other owned the Italian grocery in our town, and my dad was a Master Baker. Food was everywhere and I was always interested in it. I wasn’t a picky child and enjoyed eating and trying different things from an early age. I was the kind of eight-year-old who chose the cheese board. I started cooking when I was around 12 and never really looked back.

Living in France and traveling and working throughout Italy and the Far East were wonderful living, eating, and cooking experiences, too. I find cooking relaxing, especially baking. During my fashion career, which could be stressful, I’d often bake on Sundays to get relaxed for the coming week. Now it’s more about cooking savory vegetable based items, though this year I did test several sweet tooth items over the Christmas break. I’m really doing something I love.

5. You’ve worked in the Flatiron District for many years. When did you first come to the neighborhood and what has life been like as an employee?

I first came into the Flatiron District in 1985 and have worked here on and off ever since. It’s been the geographic equivalent of my work-husband. Whenever I go away, fate always seems to bring me back here. I love it. It’s so central for one. It’s close to every part of the city. It has always felt intimate to me, too. Maybe it’s because it was built on a human scale and doesn’t have a lot of extreme high-rises, ironic since the Flatiron Building was the first skyscraper built. It has always had an edgy quality, too, with a lot of variety in the people you see around. I guess it feels like home to me.

6. How does today’s Flatiron compare with the neighborhood versus when you first worked here?

It’s changed so much over this time. When I first came it was mainly an area for photographers’ studios and photo labs, and designers. My own design studio was over on on West 21st Street, and to the north yoga studios, small factories, and offices. Now it has a more varied entrepreneurial makeup. It’s more user-friendly, too. I always shopped at the nearby Union Square greenmarket, but with the advent of Eataly, the area’s food shopping is now stellar and easy. The area always had good restaurants and cafes, but now we have Bouley Test Kitchen, not to mention Eleven Madison Park among many others. I feel the area is mellower in some ways, too. Madison Square Park is now beautiful and safe, which wasn’t the case when I first arrived here. Fifth Avenue has kept its feel–the stores may change but somehow the atmosphere doesn’t. Although some favorites have gone, it’s never become a street of banks and pharmacies. The smoke shop on the corner with the wooden statue of a Native American chief may be gone, but Eisenberg’s is still there!

7.  When you’re not cooking, where is your go-to place for food in the Flatiron District? Do you have a favorite dish?

There are so many that I’ve loved over the years. Right now I love Le Verdure restaurant at Eataly. I can get the kind of simple yet delicious food I like to eat and cook for myself. I adore their roasted cabbage with ricotta and walnut sauce, the grilled scarola salad, and of course, gnudi when they have them. And when I feel like Asian, wagamama has relatively newly arrived on the scene, but the pho noodle soups at The Pho, a hole-in-the-wall on East 23rd Street across from my office are just perfection when it’s cold outside. And sometimes only a grilled cheese or bowl of matzoh ball soup from Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop will do.

8. What do you consider a “must-see” or “must-do” here in the neighborhood?

Eataly. I like to go for a late lunch when it’s a little less crowded or just have an espresso and perhaps a little ‘dolce’ and people watch. Have a drink in one of the bars in The Clocktower. Go to Eisenberg’s for an irony-free eating experience of yesteryear. If you can take the lines, the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, or actually just sit in the park and enjoy a quiet, leafy moment in your day. It’s a real treat. Try exploring the side streets, too. They are full of surprises, like the N.Y. Cake & Baking Supply–not really a surprise for me as I love baking and know it well, but it’s rare to find so much great baking stuff all under one roof.

9. What’s your favorite building or architectural element in the area?

I love the eponymous Flatiron Building, especially how its now set up with pedestrian areas on the opposite triangle to the north and to the east side, too. It makes it truly open. You can linger in these places and get a sense of space and sky that is rare in the city. You used to have to dodge the traffic to get this view. I also love catching glimpses of the spires of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings as I wander through the area. New York, New York. I also like that you can dive into the comparative darkness of the side streets. It’s a wonderful contrast. But as I said earlier, I love the human scale of the Flatiron. The buildings have a graceful grandeur that stems from other eras, be it the 19th century Appellate Courthouse or the silvery stone and deco lines of the MetLife Building on Madison Avenue on the east side of the park. Gorgeous.

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Central. Human. Home.

Photo Credit: Joe Gaffney

Dec 18, 2017

Flatiron Faces: Amy Ling Lin, Founder & CEO, sundays

Meet Amy Ling Lin, Founder & CEO of sundays, New York City’s first vegan and nontoxic nail salon located at 51 East 25th Street in the Flation District. “sundays' nail polishes are what we call 10-free, free of 10 hazardous chemicals, and they are cruelty free, 100% free of animal byproducts,” says Lin, a 2016 Columbia MBA graduate whose eco-friendly concept was inspired by the chain of salons she started a few years ago.

1. What is sundays? What’s an average day in the life as Founder and CEO?

sundays is a lifestyle wellness brand that manifests in a nontoxic nail studio and vegan nail polish line. Our signature service is a manicure with guided meditation. We invite our guests to indulge in a dose of 'me time', shedding the stress of their day and leaving with a newfound confidence. My average day as the Founder and CEO of sundays looks like a lot of emails and meetings. From staff meetings to partnerships with different wellness brands, I love to handle a lot. We are, in essence, a service business, so there is always the opportunity for a million things to go wrong! Honestly, half of my time is dealing with emergency situations. But I truly love what I do and hope to share the joy with each and every sundays visitor.

2. What inspired you to open sundays after graduating from Columbia University’s Business School?

I was actually in the nail business for four years before attending Columbia Business School. In classes, we would talk a lot about environmental and global impact. I knew I needed to take action after graduation. Since the majority of MBA graduates go into big name banking and consulting, I had doubts about opening another nail salon. However, when I was truthful to myself, I started realizing it doesn't matter which industry you delve into, but how much you love what you are doing. And I love what I am doing!

3. sundays is a “place where everyone can feel accepted, beautiful and free to be their authentic selves.” During the holiday season, which specific services do you recommend?

During the holidays, I would personally recommend the anti-aging rose treatment, and will indulge in a few myself. It is like having a full facial for your hands and feet, with coconut milk soak, orange peel scrub, and rose essential oil cream. It is so good to do something different for yourself and allow yourself to feel special. We believe every single person is beautiful and worth pampering.

4. Shed some light on sundays’ vegan and nontoxic services.

We use only vegan and nontoxic products in our services. sundays' nail polishes are what we call 10-free, free of 10 hazardous chemicals, and they are cruelty free, 100% free of animal byproducts. Most pigments used in typical nail polish brands, like shimmery and metallic shades, are derived from animals. For instance, red dye is commonly made from a type of insect shell. And that shimmery, pearly, or luminescent finish in your favorite silver polish is often an ingredient called guanine, aka fish scales. Gross! Even our lotions and scrubs are plant based. Earth friendly is essential. 

5. You’re supportive of empowering your employees. Why is this important to you?

There are an overwhelming number of immigrants working in the nail industry, and this has traditionally been overlooked. As an immigrant myself, I feel strongly about empowering our employees to make their voices feel heard. 

6. Your Flatiron District studio opened in March. How did you choose this neighborhood?

We chose Flatiron for the beautiful architecture, the health and wellness driven community, and the small business support. I think the neighborhood has everything our brand stands for. 

7. What’s your go-to place for a bite to eat in Flatiron, and what’s your favorite dish?

I adore Inday and [their] CAULI'FORNIA (cauliflower "rice", baked falafel, super greens, beets, coconut chutney, cucumbers, coconut tahini, seeds).

8. What do you consider a "must-see” or “must-do" destination in the neighborhood? 

I love Madison Square Park! There are always some interesting public art installations that appeal to both the passing tourists and the working locals. I also love Inscape Studio and their meditation services.

9. What's your favorite building or architectural element in the area?

From the pyramid pointed roof of the New York EDITION hotel to triangular peculiarity of the Flatiron Building, I am so amazed by the details of the architecture in this neighborhood. The historical buildings are beautiful.

10. Finally, choose three words to describe the Flatiron District.

Community. Evolving. Dedicated.

Nov 13, 2017

Flatiron Faces: Deirdre & Nicholas McDermott, Future Expansion

Flatiron Faces: Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, Architects and Partners at Future Expansion

Meet Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, winners of this year’s Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition. The pair's shimmering structure, Flatiron Reflection, will open to the public on November 20th and will be on display on the Flatiron North Public Plaza through January 1st. Flatiron Reflection serves as the centerpiece for the sixth annual "23 Days of Flatiron Cheer" programming.

1.) Briefly tell us about your firm, Future Expansion.

Nicholas: Future Expansion is about five years old at this point and coincidentally its origins are somewhat tied to another public art installation. We won a commission from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to build a temporary urban-scale sculpture for a vacant lot next to the BAM Harvey Theater. It was our first real job as an office, and an incredible experience for all of the collaboration, research, and coordination, which allowed us to get our hands dirty on a project we were very intellectually invested in. Since that project, we’ve mostly worked on more traditional architecture assignments for commercial, institutional, and residential clients. In general, we think architecture offers a compelling opportunity to engage in the creation of the city that does not yet exist, the city of the future, in the sense that the city is always reinventing itself, always changing. It’s also important to note that though small, the office is more than the sum of the two partners; Vincent Mai and Michael Filomeno from our office worked on this project and were instrumental in its realization.

2.) What led each of you to practice architecture?

Nicholas: I was a philosophy major in college but got turned onto architecture while living in London during a year abroad studying philosophy of science at the London School of Economics and traveling around Europe. Although what I studied in philosophy of science seems more relevant now than I ever imagined it would be, that was it, there was no hesitation after London.

Deirdre: I told my parents at a very young age that I wanted to be an architect.

3.) Can you share some of the ways you keep your design practice partnership fresh and creative?

Deirdre: We are constantly looking outside ourselves for inspiration. The city, in a big way, keeps the practice fresh. You can always experience something new even on the same block you walk down everyday; it's a consistent influence and reminds us that you can approach each design project from a different angle.

4.) What are your thoughts about your proposal being selected as the centerpiece for the Partnership's annual "23 Days of Flatiron Cheer" holiday programming?

Nicholas: Thrilled!

5.) What was your inspiration for Flatiron Reflection? What do you hope will be the public's takeway when experiencing it?

Nicholas: We were inspired by, among other things, the great Edward Steichen photograph of the Flatiron Building. The way that the building appears through the fog, the clarity of the form amidst the ambiguity and murkiness of the image was the inspiration for the blurrily reflective surface treatment we proposed in our design. But, right from the beginning, we also talked about wanting to create a project that could create some amount of separation between the viewer and the noise of the street. Having said that, it was also critical that the project reinforce the public nature of the plaza. More than anything, this is a public space project. New Yorkers need to value and demand more from the custodians of the public realm. These are vital infrastructures without which the city would not exist in a recognized form. The installation should make the plaza feel more public, more open, more exceptional.

Deirdre: I hope that Flatiron Reflection will not only be experienced from the outside but also from within. I think that there is a powerful moment that is inherent in the plaza of taking in the city at a grander scale, of opening up and redirecting the experience.

6.) What is your favorite building or achitectural element in the Flatiron District?

Nicholas: The Flatiron Building, of course. It’s hard to compete. Although, from Madison Square Park, the scale of the big arched entrance on the corner of the 11 Madison building is wonderful. It feels like it addresses the city, and it’s so present as a form but as you approach it, you experience it as space.

Deirdre: To me, it’s standing in the middle of the open plaza and looking up. The buildings that surround the park and plaza - Flatiron included - all have a relative character that runs between them. There are very few places where you get to step back and take in so much beautiful architecture all at once and from that vantage point.

7.) What's your favorite destination or 'must see' in the neighborhood?

Nicholas: Madison Square Park is a wonderful urban oasis, and you’ve got to love MoMATH.

8.) What's your favorite place to eat in Flatiron?

Deirdre: A Voce, though we are delinquent in our patronage to the big names on the block.

Nicholas: We don’t get out of Brooklyn much.

9.) Finally, describe the Flatiron District in three words.

Ready for Reflection.