When New York City–based photographer Matt Albiani teamed up with Santa Barbara’s Ron Brand to open Mate Gallery in October 2013, they had more than California on their minds. “We were inspired by a nautical East Coast sensibility,” Brand explains. “And this sleepy beach community—with great surfing spots and a bit of a resort feel—was the perfect place to present that world to the West Coast.”
“It’s about offering products that have a story to tell,” Brand says of the shop’s art, accessories, and furnishings, “whether it’s a surfer tee or a vintage nautical flag.”
“Size was obviously a challenge,” Brand says of the 170-square-foot space. “But tackling this small room was a fun project.” The duo took advantage of the shop’s high ceilings, displaying vintage paintings alongside Albiani’s celebrated pics.
“The gallery is really just an extension of our personal styles,” Albiani says. “We love nothing more than a long summer day, kicking back on the beach with a beer and a good book. And our hope is that when people come into the shop, they’ll want to be
a part of that day.”
A growing collection of Hardy Boys books pays homage to the founders’ youthful spirits.
Old nautical paint-by-number scenes—often scored at summertime yard sales in Montauk—line the shop’s walls. “At one point, we had a whole wall of boats,” Brand says.
Vintage Nigerian striped textiles—which can be used as throws or beach blankets—are among Brand’s favorite pieces. “They’re so versatile,” he says. “And the blues and creams are very us.”
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