Why do you decided to create this association?
SDD was created and grew organically out of the long over demand from our market. As many of the showrooms were facing rising rents and could not afford the drastic renewal increases, they were curious how other brands were responding. Unfortunately, many did not know their neighbors, so I organized a first meeting back in February 2014 to openly discuss our shared challenges. From this first meeting grew the voices of our business needs and the agreement to join forces as a community to achieve our joint goals. We were all marketing to the same clients, advertising in the same places and having events for the same reasons, so why not do it together and expand our outreach. As you could imagine, this was not an easy task when this meant that many had to work together with their competitors. It was quickly proven successful when our first joint event as SoHo Design District was able to drive much more traffic and exposure to all our showrooms then our individually planned events could.
Do you organize other events to animate the District during the year?
Definitely, so many! Our efforts are to continue to support our showrooms and the design community all year long in diverse, educational ways. This past April we just finished our neighborhood sample sale. We also plan to have our annual Summer Happy Hour Raffle again this June where attendees can visit for a chance to win beautiful design products from our showrooms. In October we partner with the Architecture and Design Film Festival for the fifth annual Short Film Walk. At this event, visitors can come to all our participating showrooms for an evening of cocktails and short films carefully curated by the ADFF. Plus, coming soon for the first time this year, we will launch our walking design & architecture tours.
What are the next steps for the next years?
Our future is to do more to support design education. As our days get quickly filled with our current projects, we tend to forget about our future market. New York is home to so many amazing design schools: we are working on several initiatives to support these students into their next steps towards a career in design. Many of our brands have such a long history and so much to learn from.
There have been many new openings in the city: what is the reply of the District?
Actually, none of our members have moved out of SDD since we started in 2015. This year we have several brand-new design showrooms opening in SoHo, Oasiq, The Guild, Material Lust plus Tom Dixon moving to Greene Street into a much larger showroom. Last year we saw more then 5 design brands move to SoHo. As the design brands grow, more and more districts are being newly created. Now that there is a decrease in commercial real estate rate we anticipate many more design brands will be moving to SoHo in the upcoming years.