Article written by Rachel Kashdan for Boston Magazine
Looking for a fun challenge? Try not to touch anything at Modern Relik’s new 6,000 square-foot home showroom. Located on 485 Harrison Avenue in the South End, the space teems with plush furnishings and chic accessories. Thankfully, running your hands over everything in the store isn’t just okay—it’s encouraged.
Owner and designer Meg Kimball’s philosophy is to give customers a “sensory experience,” she says, which starts with a European-style coffee bar located in the front of the store and continues to the back, where vintage and new pieces in covetable textures and finishes flawlessly intermingle. “My overall concept is to create something that’s new and different—more experience-oriented—and give people a reason to get off the couch and come in,” Kimball says.
After converting Modern Relik’s two-year-old Waltham location to a trade-only showroom, Kimball came across this expansive raw space near SoWa Open Market, and it instantly “screamed our name” she says.
With a location secured and a concept for a new open-to-the-public shop in mind, she then recruited restaurateur Michela Larson to help her add food and drink to the equation in the form of a café called MOD Espresso. The goal? To entice even non-shoppers to come in off the street for coffee from La Colombe, MEM tea, and bites ranging from toasts made with Clear Flour bread to Toscanini’s ice cream sandwiches, all served on Modern Relik’s own dishware. “I didn’t want something that just felt like I was putting a Starbucks up at the front of the store,” Kimball explains. “I wanted it to be really integrated.” Across from the coffee bar, the showroom also features a floral shop with a selection of seasonal blooms and decorative vessels, as well as a floor-to-ceiling display of design-themed Rizzoli coffee-table books.
Head further back into the expansive space, though, and that’s where you’ll find Kimball’s treasure trove: an array of eye-catching vintage and new furniture, décor, textiles, and gifts designed both by her own company, as well as artisans the owner discovered while traveling the globe. Shoppers can buy right off the floor, but nearly every piece is customizable, too.
All of the goods are displayed in curated-yet-approachable vignettes (think: a dreamy cream-hued bedroom or a group of beautifully styled tablescapes) that make it easy to imagine yourself sleeping, dining, or kicking back in every single setup. And luckily, if you need a little help making that vision a reality, the showroom’s in-house design team, led by design director John Dransfield, formerly of Dransfield & Ross, can assist on projects big and small.
With the store being open just over a week, Kimball says its debut has fulfilled a “lifelong dream,” adding that the team couldn’t be happier with the reception so far. “People are thrilled,” Kimball says. “We’re finding it very fun and invigorating.”
Peek inside the showroom below. (Photo credits: Melissa Ostrow)