By Shani Silver

Published on February 22, 2016

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Photography by THE ELK

text by   SHANI SILVER

Any shop can be a shop. A cafe can cafe with the best of ‘em. But when a space decides to do more, to become a multifunction, multipurpose establishment speaking to more than one interest, we’re interested. New York is never shy on creative spaces, and today we’re talking up three of them. Ode To Babel, American Two Shot, and THE ELK. We’re inspired by these owners and creators who can see a space for what it is–and all the things it can be.

THE ELK

Claire Chan

Owner At The Elk.

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Photography by THE ELK

WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR SPACE’S PRIMARY PURPOSE?

As a cafe. A space for people to gather, meet friends, grab a coffee or breakfast to-go, or sit and enjoy the ambience for a while. It is kind of a home away from home.

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Photography by THE ELK

WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR INTENTION TO MAKE THIS SPACE MULTI-FUNCTION?

I always wanted people to be able to feel at ease and comfortable, so in that sense yes. It had to match different desires and lifestyles – be flexible enough for someone to sit and read a book, or for someone to host a business lunch, or for a few friends to meet and catch up. I tried to make the best use of the small space (it is NYC after all). If given more space, I’m sure I would have been able to make it even more multi-functional – maybe for the next one!

HOW DID THE DECISION TO CREATE A MULTI-FUNCTION SPACE AFFECT YOUR DESIGN PLANS?

The use of woods was intentional, to give it a certain warmth and natural feel. In this way, the space could exude a certain warmth but still feel modern. I definitely wanted to stay away from any materials that felt too sterile.

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Photography by THE ELK

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE, PERHAPS UNEXPECTED, USE FOR YOUR SPACE?

I love THE ELK after hours and hosting dinners / small gatherings after we close for business. The space can completely transform and take on a whole new feel than it has during the day.

WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION YOU’VE HEARD TO YOUR SPACE SO FAR?

Someone once said they wanted their home to look and feel like THE ELK – I thought this was the ultimate compliment: they liked our space so much that they wanted to incorporate it into their own personal lifestyle.

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Photography by THE ELK

photos courtesy of   THE ELK
design & carpentry by   ENNIS MCINTOSH

The Elk

128 Charles St, New York NY 10014

(212) 933-4780
Website | @theelknyc | Facebook

ODE TO BABEL

Marva Babel

 & 

Myriam Babel

Founders of Ode To Babel.

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Photography by PATRCIK CLINE

WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR SPACE’S PRIMARY PURPOSE?

Bar/lounge, with a multi-purpose platform for independent artists and creatives.

WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR INTENTION TO MAKE THIS SPACE MULTI-FUNCTION?

YES, we love the idea of having a space that speaks many languages of one’s life(style).

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Photography by ODE TO BABEL

HOW DID THE DECISION TO CREATE A MULTI-FUNCTION SPACE AFFECT YOUR DESIGN PLANS?

The goal was to keep things “fluid” in order to accommodate the need of the space at any given time–whether it’s a magazine issue party or an acoustic artist performance, the space is interchangeable but still feels intimate and familiar.

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Photography by MARVA BABEL

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE, PERHAPS UNEXPECTED, USE FOR YOUR SPACE?

When we first opened, we had a wonderful, intimate communal dinner party hosted by the Fortunato Sisters (Lizzie & Kathryn). The event brought together a group of about 20 amazing women from various creative backgrounds and industries, enjoying great conversation, amazing food, and kick-ass cocktails by Ode to Babel. It was an authentic evening of great company and solid friendships were formed.

WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION YOU’VE HEARD TO YOUR SPACE SO FAR?

It’s unique, different. In New York you see so many cool and amazing spaces, so to get that reaction from people that walk in, is wonderful.

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Photography by PATRICK CLINE

photography by   PATRICK CLINE & MARVA BABEL
interior design by   MARVA BABEL
artist   SONOMI KOBAYASHI

Ode To Babel

772 Dean St, Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 484-3847
Website | @odetobabel | Facebook

AMERICAN TWO SHOT

Olivia Wolfe

co-owner of American Two Shot.

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Photography by OLIVIA WOLFE

WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR SPACE’S PRIMARY PURPOSE?

ATS is primarily a clothing store, but we constantly are finding more and more ways to utilize this space. We’ve had concerts, readings, art shows, trunk shows, the list goes on. We hosted a mixer once for some Columbia University doctors

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Photography by OLIVIA WOLFE

WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR INTENTION TO MAKE THIS SPACE MULTI-FUNCTION?

yes we absolutely always wanted the space to be flexible, not only to utilize it differently but even just to change the look and vibe easily. We try and move everything around every month or two so the store always feels a little different and fresh whenever you come in.

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Photography by OLIVIA WOLFE

HOW DID THE DECISION TO CREATE A MULTI-FUNCTION SPACE AFFECT YOUR DESIGN PLANS?

a lot of our design directly reflects our intention for the space. Nothing is really build in expect the coffee bar and some peg board. Everything is on wheels, including the large wood platforms. They double as a stage when we have music events, and during the day just add a nice little dimension to the space.

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Photography by OLIVIA WOLFE

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE, PERHAPS UNEXPECTED, USE FOR YOUR SPACE?

I listed a bunch above, but my favorite events have been the Blood Orange album release show (it was so special) and the erotic reading we host every Valentine’s Day with Adult Magazine. It’s SO fun / come by!

WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION YOU’VE HEARD TO YOUR SPACE SO FAR?

at least once a day someone walks in and looks around and then just goes “wait where am I what is this” and I get a kick out of that every time. Also, my friend Jenna once said “ATS is like a clubhouse but where everyone’s invited” and I LOVED that.

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Photography by OLIVIA WOLFE

photography by  OLIVIA WOLFE

American Two Shot

135 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

(212) 925-3403
Website | @americantwoshot | @alltheseshrimp