Firm Displays Designs As Artwork

New York — It’s true that life can imitate art, and perhaps nowhere is this better evidenced than at Grande Central on 56, where art provides inspiration for the showroom.

According to Howard Frankel who, along with his brother Warren, owns the firm and its parent company Central Plumbing Specialties, the showroom is not just a complement to the firm’s three other showrooms, but a completely different experience all its own.

“This showroom was chosen to be the perfect balance to our Park Ave. showroom at 96th St. and our Bond St. showroom in lower Manhattan. The new showroom is located on 56th St. between Third and Lexington in the heart of the design district. It is the largest of our showrooms, featuring 4,000 square feet of space spread across two levels,” he says.

“You realize immediately you are not in a regular kitchen and bath showroom [because] we understand the relationship between art and our well-designed products on display,” he explains.

Designed in part by MC2, Robert Goldberg Architect of G-Squared and realized by Brian Rosenblum of Dynamic Productions, the space is unique due to its “focus on the art world and its influence on our product,” Frankel states.

The showroom features a variety of high-end product lines such as Duravit, Villeroy & Boch, Wetstyle, Decotec Paris, Stone Forest, Victoria & Albert, Robern, Porcher, Neo Metro, Lacava, Altmans, Cifial, Graff and Grohe, and kitchen sink displays from Elkay, Franke and Julien.

Grande Opening

The grand opening for Grande Central on 56 was an invitation-only event, geared toward designers, architects and industry professionals.

“It was well attended by over 100 people, and was sponsored by Franke, Robern and Steamist in association with PK Luxury Sales,” Frankel notes.

In fact, the response to the showroom following the grand opening has been so positive that other events are planned for this summer, including a day for designers to earn AIA CEU credits during a Hansgrohe-sponsored event, he points out.

“As members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), we expect to use our showroom in NYC for member meetings and events,” he adds.

Central Layout

According to Frankel, Grande Central on 56 is designed inside and out to attract the firm’s target clientele.

“The 56th St. showroom is a ground level space with one level below, and is open to the public, as is our Bond St. location. The core customer for the showroom is someone needing high-end, quality products in today’s styles,” he offers.

To add to the art-gallery feel, Frankel graced the entry of the showroom with a signed Peter Lik waterfall print, which was then paired with a Stone Forest fountain to incorporate the sounds of moving water.

The firm has integrated various forms of technology to make the showroom a success, among them a widescreen monitor set up downstairs that allows the firm to put on PowerPoint presentations in the private work area.

As for the layout of the space, while many showrooms subscribe to the “more is better” theory, Frankel believes the exact opposite. He finds that sometimes showing fewer products is more effective, and he notes that keeping the number of products down in his showroom actually enhances the art gallery feel of the space.

“The showroom was ultimately designed to show product in a manner that we find to be unusual throughout our industry,” he concludes. “It’s more expensive not to cram displays on top of each other, but we wanted to give customers the proper space around each display to view and experience the products.”

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