We recently opened our NYC office and were lucky enough to have the wonderful women of Merchant Modern design the space. Sara and Denise flew out from LA and worked their magic in only few days. They successfully brought the ocean breeze and swinging palm trees to the heart of Manhattan. Here is a little about these two beautiful artists, what inspires them, and what’s in store for Merchant Modern.
You designed the entire Washed Ashore office in NYC from scratch in
less than a week. What was the inspiration behind it, how were you
able to bring the Beach to Manhattan?
We wanted to create a space that brought a dreamlike Californian
palette to New York City. We were able to bring multiple prints from a
local photographer in Venice that we represent at Merchant Gallery
called Torrey West. His double exposure analogue prints capture a
nostalgic feel of the Californian coastline combined with the female
figure. Displaying select prints with unique mid-century furniture and
handpicked sculpture we were able to transport a piece of Merchant to
What is important to you when designing a commercial or office space?
It is important to us to create multiple unique areas within one
space. For the Washed Ashore Showroom, we wanted you to feel at home
however at the same time transported to from one space to another.
Merchant always incorporates signature pieces such as our select
vintage moroccan rugs, mid century furniture & sculpture. Each space
in the showroom functions for a different purpose, the office floats
with a mid century danish desk opposite a colorful vintage chair
designed by Milo Baughman, opposite a rattan couch sits with a large
circle mirror opening up the space. Alongside one wall showcases
select jewelry on a travertine console, opposite a vintage peacock
chair surrounded by tropical plants. Its as if you didn’t know you
were in the heart of soho and you have been washed away to California.
How did you discover your passion for design and art?
Merchant is a mother daughter duo company, we both bring different
elements to our brand. We are both inspired by everything around us,
in particular we are drawn to unique shapes, pops of color and
interesting objects and textures we see. Daughter , Sara Marlowe
artist and buyer brings her passion of art, color, shape and sculpture
to each space, sourcing local artists in collaboration with Merchant.
Mother Denise Portmans, has an incredible eye for picking rare
signature vintage pieces of design and furniture. Together we combine
our aesthetics into one.
What brought you to California? What do you love about it?
California is unlike anywhere in the world full of stunning landscapes
and incredible opportunities. We were excited to be able to live in
Los Angeles and be surrounded by clients that have an open mind to
design and art.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Travel is the most inspiring element to our work. We are lucky enough
to travel to Morocco in order to handpick unique vintage rugs and
across the world for select objects and furniture.
Do you have advice for people who would like to achieve a similar
vibe as the WA New York office?
The key things to look for when sourcing for your space would be:
plants, sculpture, interesting pieces of design and art, adding
texture and layers and different shapes to the space.
Are there design rules that you go by?
For us we love to mix mid century pieces with local artists and designers.
You own Merchant Modern, Merchant Gallery, Merchant House & Merchant
On The Road. How do you do it all and are there any upcoming projects
you’re looking forward to?
As a team we manage photoshoots, home interior design and consulting.
All our locations are located in close proximity and we are able to
curate and pick together for each space. We are currently curating our
next show at Merchant Gallery for the new year, stay tuned.
Keep up with Denise Portmans & Sara Marlowe Hall: