Living the Lifestyle with Mark ZeffMarch 19, 2018
How did Black Barn evolve from your East Hamptons house to a lifestyle brand?
The house is refreshing with concrete flooring and an indoor-outdoor aspect that is unique. It’s a very humble house—it’s not ostentatious, it feels like an art gallery.This became the brand. A friend of mine [chef John Doherty] came out for the weekend, and we [decided to] enter into the restaurant world together with Black Barn in New York [in 2015]. About a year later, I moved offices from Manhattan to Dumbo [in Brooklyn] and there was an opportunity to have a retail space. We converted the loading dock facility, which used to be a paper recycling facility, into the Black Barn shop. In November, we opened a new store in Chelsea Market, allowing us to get together again with John to add a café in the back of the shop. The next move is a Black Barn hotel.
Until that happens, tell us about a hotel you are working on.
Virgin New York is a 42-story, ground-up building in NoMad. It’s big, it’s flashy, it’s about Virgin’s tongue-in-cheek attitude to the world. We looked at Bollywood movies for the pool area and the bar, and the art scene in New York for the outdoor restaurant. There’s a tented structure on the deck that will be fabulous. We have huge natural elements going into these spaces, so it’s not just glass and steel. We’re using some interesting lighting concepts. In one room, we’ll have two million tassels hanging from the ceiling with lights behind it.
It feels like this wonderful old opium room.