The year 2020 saw the shuttering of many brick-and-mortar stores, as quarantine measures and a slowed economy decreased the traffic that typically sustains physical retail spaces. In the midst of this all, fashion designer turned design collector and curator Alan Eckstein found himself crafting a new kind of design retail space in Brooklyn: The Somerset House, “a spacious, light-filled space in Williamsburg that blends decades and styles to create something totally its own.”

Alan sits in a chair at the Somerset House.

Kendall Mills

Alan, who has spent his free time over the past years amassing a respectable collection of international and domestic vintage design, began to move into the world of interior staging after a townhouse in Manhattan’s West Village that he staged in 2019 sold in just a matter of weeks. Staging, which is intended to bring out the best of a space through thoughtful styling of furniture and objects, was a way for Alan to apply his love of interiors and to share highlights from his large collection, pieces that “deserved to be shown and shared.”

While in the midst of designing a living space in Williamsburg, Alan was approached by the building’s owners and asked to consider making use of the then-vacant ground floor space to showcase his design collection. From this partnership the Somerset House was born—“a place to look, buy, and get excited about furniture.”

For visitors to the Somerset House, the space is the perfect complement to the pieces inside: soaring ceilings and a light-filled interior frame pieces that blend styles, eras, and locales—a testament to Alan’s skill as a collector and curator. “We are a true blend of collectible pieces from many different cultures, locations, and eras around the world,” says Alan. “We want people to be inspired when they come to the store.”

It’s easy to see how you would step foot inside and want one of everything from the Paul McCobb Mahogany Nightstand to the Eugenia Butler Oak Puzzle Chair and the Sigfred Omann Danish Rosewood Secretaire Desk to the Ettore Sottsass Callimaco Floor Lamp by Artemide.

Alan is quick to welcome visitors into his space, which is available by appointment. He’s passionate about vintage furniture, and gladly shares his knowledge with a listening ear. “Vintage furniture is usually made, designed, and executed better than most furniture manufactured today—it’s just that simple,” Alan says. “Solid wood construction, hand-beveled marble, things of that nature [are] not something you see in furniture today, and that’s why our interest for unique vintage furniture is here to stay. I think as a society we will learn to covet well-made pieces that are meant to last.”

There are so many gems to find at the Somerset House. Sitting pretty in the middle of the composition is a lovely mushroom-like lamp and an abstract Zig Zag sculpture.

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