Curator and designer Alan Eckstein is one of New York’s most in-demand taste-makers. Born and raised in Great Neck, New York, Eckstein initially followed his passion for jazz music by pursuing a musical degree, before switching to fashion at the Fashion Institute of New York, a move that would eventually see him co-found the Timo Weiland label with Tim Weiland and Donna Kang. In his latest career pivot, Eckstein has moved into the world of interior curation and design with his Williamsburg outpost, The Somerset House, "a Staging, Interior Design and Gallery curated by Alan Eckstein". - The Somerset House.
We caught up with him to chat about his passion for great furniture design and the power of a well-assembled room…
OS: Hi Alan. Can you introduce yourself please and tell us what you do?
Alan Eckstein: Hi! I'm Alan Eckstein, founder of The Somerset House, a vintage furniture showroom and interior design studio. I guess you can say I'm a curator, and a designer.
OS: What is it about the world of interiors and furniture that makes you so passionate?
AE: There is so much to be excited about. There is so much history that comes up with each piece we acquire. I love the rush of the end result of an interior project. But I truly believe furniture can be some of the most impactful art ever created. Value can be based on innovation, quality, cultural significance, materials used, handwork and of course taste. It's always fun getting to refinish or bring back to life incredible design. I feel the same way about designing rooms in someone's house. Lots of creative opportunities.
Havana Short Sleeve Shirt Cannon Beige
Oli's T-shirt Ladock Navy
Fishtail Trousers Sheldon Navy
OS: What genres or styles of interior design are you most drawn to?
AE: I've always been in love with mid-century design, Danish modern, Italian, French, American, but over the last year or two have been really into deco, especially the stuff coming from Austria. I like to think of them in musical terms: Art Deco is kind of like the blues, whereas mid-century design is more like rock'n'roll. Both such great genres of modernism.
OS: What’s the key piece of advice you would give to someone faced with a blank canvas of a room?
AE: If you have the means, consider getting good vintage furniture. In the long run, vintage will always be made very well, something you could not say about current manufacturing. Getting great, classic vintage pieces from the start will probably save you money in the long run as you won't be breaking items as much as something that comes from Ikea. Back in the day, furniture was made to last. Pieces would be passed down the generations. Today, it’s all about something temporary - stay away from that mindset.
OS: How would you describe the New York interiors scene right now?
AE: It seems like it's booming, especially after the pandemic. It's very exciting to see so many great new designers on the scene. New York interiors feel kind of like what fashion felt for me 15 years ago.
OS: What’s your favourite part of the city?
AE: All of it. I love the variety of each street being different from the next. The different neighborhoods and boroughs are so unique, it's continuously amusing. I grew up here and I'm still in love with this city. Our gallery and my home is in Long Island City and I love the daily comradery it brings.
OS: What are your personal style signifiers?/Or how would you describe your personal style?
AE: Classic with a twist. I love jeans, some fun sneakers or penny loafers and a button-down, and lately, a bucket hat.
OS: We’re loving the vibe of Exquisite Sounds, your monthly playlist. What has inspired your musical choices?
AE: Thanks! That's a melting pot of music I've been listening to or just want to have rotating through the gallery. Sometimes it's classical, sometimes it's punk rock - it has a serious variety going on.
You can find out more about The Somerset House by clicking here.