Twice a year we head to Manhattan to catch up on all things design. We like being well prepared for our travels and we’re currently deep in the trenches of our Manhattan research. Part of our homework involves following trusted publications, tracking design blogs and talking to our favorite NYC field correspondents. Although we’re always on the lookout for new venues, exhibits and events, we always visit some older favorites as well. These favorites are so important to the modern culture of Manhattan that we decided to round them up into a tidy little post. If you’re design-minded, you’d be foolish to miss these 25.


gray-b Ace Hotel, 20 W 29th S
This place is re-engineering culture and doing so in exciting ways, like with their current Dasein show by Chase Jarvis. The Ace is cool, the Ace is forward-thinking and the Ace is relevant in ways that are simply beyond the envelope of most hotels. Don’t miss the clever signage throughout.

Hudson, 356 W 58th St, designed by Philippe Starck
The Hudson was one of the first design-forward boutique hotels in Manhattan and they spared no expense with designer Philippe Starck at the helm. Over a decade later the Hudson is still an epicenter of cool. Be sure and spend some time lounging in the bar and set some time aside in the morning for a leisurely brunch on the outdoor terrace.


Delicatessen, 54 Prince St
Go on a nice day when they roll up the garage doors so you can drink your coffee, linger and people watch. Don’t miss the enclosed courtyard lounge area and the sleek bathrooms.


The Bar Room at MOMA, 11 W 53rd St, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
The sleek interior of the Bar Room is the perfect oasis from the hustle and bustle of mid-town. Lounge out on the leather sofas and keep the martinis coming to accompany the grilled shrimp and salmon tartar appetizers.


Four Seasons Lounge, 99 E 52nd St designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson
It is your duty to pay homage to the birth place of modernism. The well-appointed bar tenders are knowledgeable about the architectural history and it’s always humorous to hear about the “recent” remodel (which occurred in the 1970’s). Be sure and peek into the formal dining room to get a glimpse of the sublime reflecting pools and glowing cotton candy –a signature of the Four Seasons.


Morimoto, 88 10th Ave, designed by Tado Ando
It doesn’t get much more sophisticated than this. Play it smart -saddle up at the bar and put your appetite in the confident hands of the chef’s menu. Make sure to explore the space and don’t miss the Japanese bathroom “experience”.


Top of The Standard, 848 Washington (at the Standard Hotel) designed by Polshek Partnership
The view is phenomenal, the people beautiful and the drinks entirely pro. The space makes you feel like you’re at the pinnacle of Manhattan. Under no circumstances should you miss the bathrooms.

Bar 89, 89 Mercer St, designed by Ogawa Depardon Architects
Maybe the first truly modern bar in Manhattan; Bar 89 is cool, confident and comparatively modest in its SOHO surroundings. This is the place that started the whole bathrooms-as-cool-design-element movement, so don’t miss the bathrooms.

Lobby Lounge, 80 Columbus Circle
There are 3 reasons to visit this high-class establishment: view, view and view. Putting on your good duds will help you land a window-side table.

Hudson Hotel Bar, 356 W 58th, designed by Philippe Starck
As a clear homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, the back-lit floor casts a warm glow over the Louis XV furnishings. Go early or plan on waiting in line.


MOMA, 11 W 53rd St, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi
This is the mother ship of modernism. Not to be missed are the Architecture & Design exhibit on the 3rd floor and the sculpture garden on the ground floor.

Cooper Hewitt, 2 East 91st St, designed by Babb, Cook & Willard
As the National Design Museum, the Cooper Hewitt is the place to keep a pulse on current architecture and design.  The former residence of Andrew Carnegie affords a pleasant sequence of experiences for the rotating galleries. Take advantage of a coffee in the private courtyard.

Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road, Queens
That it’s across the river in Queens weeds out most of the touristo-trons, leaving a serene atmosphere for the design dedicated. Wander through the peaceful indoor and outdoor spaces where every design move is careful and deliberate.


baby-blue Gagosian, 555 West 24th St, designed by Gluckman Mayner Architects
This gallery is so design-forward that the shows typically leap headlong into unfamiliar and esoteric territory. But the art is usually fun and the themes demand rumination. The space is light filled, open and inspiring. It’s also a great starting point to the mind-numbing amount of galleries in Chelsea.


Alessi, 130 Green St, designed by Asymptote
One of the most seamless interiors in New York; grab an Americano and peruse the gorgeous industrial design.

Calvin Klein, 654 Madison Ave, designed by John Pawson
Designed by minimalist architect John Pawson in 1995, this interior introduced Manhattan to the delights of simple, austere design. You may want to restrict your wardrobe to black and white prior to your visit, and for God’s sake –don’t touch anything!

Apple Store Mid-town, 767 5th Ave, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
A minimalists Shangri-La, if this structure were any more attenuated it would be invisible.

Eileen Fisher, 395 West Broadway,  designed by CR Studio
A truly timeless piece of architecture that is located, ironically, right in the heart of a neighborhood that invented fashion and trends. Pay attention to the handsome entry courtyard.

Prada, 575 Broadway, designed by OMA
Shopping experience hyperbole or pure visual candy, take your pick. This space is a fun-house for architects and designers. Don’t miss the digital dressing rooms.

Comme des Garcons, 520 W 22nd St, designed by Future Systems
The entry experience alone makes for a lively visit.


Morgan Library, 29 East 36th St, designed by Renzo Piano
Architect Renzo Piano proves, once again, that he may very well be the world’s most masterful architect. The delicate architecture links several classic buildings together and creates wonderful light filled spaces in between.

New York Times HQ, 8th Ave & 40th, designed by Renzo Piano
It’s not easy to design an 840 foot tall structure in such a way that it appears delicate and sophisticated, but that’s exactly what the NYT headquarters achieves. Don’t miss the main floor lobby and garden courtyard beyond.


The High Line, Gansevoort St to 20th, designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro
One of the most ambitious and forward-thinking public works of the decade, the Highline is a modern wonder. Set aside an hour or so to walk the highline, making sure to check out the details along the way. Don’t miss the ipe lounge chairs which slide along vintage train rails.


Knoll Showroom, 76 9th Ave 11th Floor
Not only does the showroom cover an entire floor with drop-dead gorgeous furnishings, but the views offered throughout the space are magnificent. You’ll have to check in at the main floor and get a name tag – but it’s worth jumping through a few hoops.

Boffi, 85 Grand St
Clean, sleek design in a sanctuary of a space; the staff at Boffi are so quiet and invisible that it may be tempting to make yourself a meal in one of the model kitchens.

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