Open Air Modern

Open Air Modern

Photo: Open Air Modern

Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Type of Place: Books Furniture

Heading to the subway, on my way to Coney Island to meet my good friend Christopher (a weekend of great beach weather! woohoo!), I passed a shop that had been "Coming Soon" for the past few weeks. Today—open! Turns out their first day of business was Saturday, August 15th; so the fact that they exist is very recent news.

And it's great news, too, for anyone looking for a creative gift, a rare book, some decent vinyl for the stereo (yes, many of us still have stereos, and vinyl!), or some especially fabulous furniture.

The books and the furniture at Open Air Modern—so named for the outdoor space it originally occupied—are the focusses here. The furniture is 20th-century, very stylish, and in great shape. Obviously a sofa or a table will be site-specific, bigger-ticket items, rather than things you scoop up on a whim or as a "Thanks for having me to dinner!" token. But if you've got a need, do check out the stock; you just might find the couch, chair, lamp, etc. that brings your whole room together.

The books are also pretty amazing—and more easily purchasable just because you feel like it. Some are rare items priced in the hundreds of dollars, but most are more affordable treasures. They're second-hand and/or gently used, but they're in top condition. There's a great selection of art books, from Caravaggio to Maplethorpe. Milton Rogovin's wonderful photography book, "The Forgotten Ones," is one of my favorites and $30 (in hardcover). I was also happy to find Ultra Violet's "Famous for 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol" ($13); "Fifth Avenue Old and New" (published in 1928, with gorgeous color illustrations), $20; and a first-edition copy of a John Cheever short-story collection, "The World of Apples" ($12). And I loved the Art Coloring Book, which lets budding creatives color in the works of artists like Keith Harring ($13, and not pre-colored!).

There are also the above-mentioned albums (from about $7), plus vintage photos and postcards (from about $3). As I wandered around, listening to the Beatles' "Let It Be" (on vinyl!) and chatting with the shop's owner, Matt, who has a sculpture background, and his girlfriend, Elissa, who's getting her Masters in architecture, I felt truly psyched to have this groovy new shop close to home. "I could buy something here for just about every one of my friends," I enthused. One-stop gift shopping, here I come! Stop in to see what inspires you.   - Pamela Grossman; Aug 16, 2009

Open Air Modern
606 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222