Over the past few years, we have witnessed what might be called the rise of a new aesthetic. With whisperings found at design shows, craft fairs, and artists’ studios, this new style melds contemporary notions of small-batch craft production, the aesthetic of Postmodernism, and the impulses of minimalism. One might call it the more cerebral cousin of the 21st century’s craft revival; an offshoot that seeks to elevate the status of traditional and domestic handicraft to that of high art.
Every new design movement needs its taste-makers, its curators, its organizers; people who define the aesthetic by taking seemingly disparate threads and weaving them into a cohesive whole. Lauren Snyder, the proprietor of Brooklyn’s The Primary Essentials, is one such person. Opened in the fall of 2013 with the goal of providing “new outlets for unique beauty,” Lauren’s shop has in many ways become emblematic of this new trend.
Although the term “curation” has become anathema to many at this point, there doesn’t really seem any other way to describe what Lauren does. At Primary Essentials, she has brought together some of today’s most exciting new talents (Caroline Z. Hurley, Hopewell, Chiaozza, Recreation Center — the list goes on) and presented them in a fashion that is just as interesting as the objects themselves. From the shop’s dotted exterior signage to the long central table that houses all manner of craft objects, to the rear windows that contain an indoor garden of houseplants, Lauren has managed to cultivate an aesthetic that champions materiality, form, and warmth while keeping everything pared down to, yes, The Primary Essentials. A beautiful exploration of rich materials (palissandro blue marble, butternut hardwood, decorative encaustic tile) and considered restraint (surfaces are kept markedly clean and all excess is tucked behind wall-to-wall, custom-built cabinetry), the shop presents itself almost like a gallery. With room to breathe, objects are allowed come to the fore, their sculptural and artistic considerations heightened. For both its serenity and on-point interpretation of contemporary craft, The Primary Essentials is most definitely worth the trip to Downtown Brooklyn. —Max