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Designer destination: Howard Street, New York City

New York Designer, Tyler Wisler, takes HOSS readers on a tour of Howard Street in New York City.

Where it’s located:

Howard Street is a little gem, running a short four blocks from Mercer Street to Centre Street in Manhattan. It bridges the uber chic land of six-foot tall models known as Soho and the gritty hustle and bustle of Chinatown.

Why we love it:

Howard Street packs a design punch for both interior lovers and fashionistas. The unassuming one-way street could be missed by any cabbie or pedestrian who wasn’t paying attention, but folks like Jil Sander and Opening Ceremony thought it a chic enough destination to call home. Covered in layers of graffiti in some places, with shining examples of historic cast-iron architecture in others, it’s a visual delight!

Where to shop:

Michele Varian is both the owner and designer of her own namesake boutique. The shop is a wonderland of chic, on-trend items, ranging from her own successful line of throw pillows, wallpaper and lighting designs, to a myriad of decorative objects and an extensive offering of jewelry for men and women from over 70 artisans! Varian has a distinct point of view and is a master of curating both new and vintage furniture pieces along with creating many of her own.

Floor changes are perpetual, enabling customers to have a new experience every visit, not to mention the revolving pop-up shop Varian hosts for various small businesses several times a year!

Events are also commonplace at the shop, and they are fun! It’s not unheard of to walk into a live garden in the back of the space where a florist has been brought in to create one-of-a-kind arrangements, or to be welcomed to have your Tarot cards read by a psychic! I know! Amazing!

Ralo is just two doors down from Michele Varian’s, but these makers of luxurious, traditional Tibetan rugs offer a completely different aesthetic. Stepping through the large wooden doors, you are greeted with the subtle smell of sandalwood incense and the sounds of soothing chanting.

The sprawling shop feels bathed in light, perfect for flipping through the gorgeous Tibetan rugs, fabricated to rigorous standards and neatly laid out in the showroom along with pillows and antique furniture pieces. The charming and knowledgeable staff are always ready to help. Downstairs, you’ll find hundreds of more rugs in their warehouse sale space, selling at a nice discount.

Rugs of all sizes, styles and colours are available, but the beauty of Ralo is its ability to customize anything. Love the pattern on a rug but need it bigger? Can do! Obsessed with everything about the rug, but it’s the wrong colour? No problem! They can create the perfect rug for you.

Where to refuel:

After you’ve spent an hour wandering around Michele Varian’s then found that perfect rug (and calmed your spirits) at Ralo, you’ll probably be peckish. Stop by the wonderfully quaint café, Smile To Go for scrumptious baked goods like Meyer lemon & poppy seed scones or cheddar scallion biscuits. The dozen twirling rotisserie chickens will take care of larger appetites. With only about seating for eight, it’s small, but worth it!

Howard Street truly is a special find – and home to wonderful shops that many New Yorkers haven’t discovered yet. But that doesn’t matter, because now YOU have! Go out and explore it the next time you’re in New York City!

-by Tyler Wisler