The Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg was established by businessman Richard M. Woodhull, who had visions of turning the Manhattan outpost into a suburban hub. But in the 1800s, it proved difficult to pull New Yorkers off of the island; in consequence, some of the largest industrial firms, such as Pfizer Pharmaceutical, were established in the borough of Brooklyn.
With the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1903, a large Jewish community established itself in Williamsburg. New immigrants followed, allowing the area to house a variety of cultures, including Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Lithuanian. By the early 2000s, the mix of backgrounds and more affordable housing options had turned Williamsburg into a place of music innovation with a vibrant nightlife and strong art scene, which gave it the nickname Little Berlin.
In recent years, gentrification has pushed long-time residents further away, and the neighbourhood has attracted a more affluent population. Thanks to the construction of new buildings and the repurposing of abandoned warehouses, today Brooklyn, and in particular Williamsburg, has also evolved into a thriving hub for entrepreneurship, start-up companies, and postmodern design. Here are some of the shops in which to get a taste of today’s Williamsburg.
A&G Merch was established to offer the population of Brooklyn a more affordable and equally modern and unique option for home furnishings. This shop thrives on bringing an urban, youthful energy to its very well curated list of products, featuring makers from Brooklyn and around the States. It is filled with cheeky details that make shopping a pleasant visual experience.
A touch of green is always welcomed in urban lifestyles. Sprout Home is a nursery that offers a variety of plant species as well as vases, containers, and decor options that add a more fun and elegant presentation for typical home plants. Geared towards the urban gardener, the store is an easy place to spend an afternoon planning new growth.
Mociun is both a jewellery line and boutique with a collection of distinctive artisan-made homewares and ceramics. The founder, Caitlin Mociun, creates unique jewellery pieces that feature beautiful and rare stones, and also sources the work of other local and national up-and-coming designers.
Oroboro is a boutique store dedicated to supporting authentic creative expressions. Its collection includes everything from clothing to ceramics to beauty goods, but the main focus is the mostly locally-made, handcrafted items.
Beam has an excellent collection of under-the-radar brands and artful objects spanning from home furniture and kitchenware to lightning and art. One is pretty much guaranteed to not walk out of the store empty-handed. Brands such as Seletti and Tom Dixon are part of the collection, which makes this store exciting and diverse.
Specializing in antique and vintage textiles, Sharktooth is a great place to find inspiration for patterns, shapes, and colours. Customers can get their hands on amazing Persian textiles from the 1800s, Turkish Kilims, or South American flat weaves.
Williamsburg has changed rapidly over the years, becoming almost as much of an explorer’s destination as Manhattan. With creative, fresh, and fun shops like these, it is not hard to understand the appeal.
Stay on trend. Read more from our Design section.