This story originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Domino, titled “Good Things in Store.” Subscribe to be the first to receive each issue.
At the New York flagship of men’s clothing label Noah, the chunky Chesterfield furniture and color-blocked corduroy safari chairs aren’t just for looks, they’re for sitting on and chatting with the staff—something that is not only common but encouraged, according to Estelle Bailey-Babenzien, co-owner with her husband, Brendon Babenzien. “The ethos of the brand is not about what you wear, it’s about what you do while you’re wearing it,” she explains.
As proof: The expansion of the store this summer included adding a tea bar that serves two flavors on the house, as well as an art gallery wall with rotating exhibitions (first up was work by Louis Philo, Phoebe Philo’s brother) set among preppy nautical–meets–Caribbean cool streetwear and pattern-forward suiting. A cross-section of hip-hop, reggae, rock-and-roll, even some classical music scores the scene. As Bailey-Babenzien rightly puts it: “I’m an architect of experience.”
Though she is the mastermind behind the aesthetic of every Noah store—with additional outposts in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo—the Brit-turned-Brooklynite started her career in fashion merchandising. Days spent putting together eye-catching displays, she says, led her to realize, “I can’t stand overly staged stuff. What’s the point?” Following her first interiors project in 2013, doing a gut renovation of a restaurant (it has since closed), she launched her creative studio, Dream Awake, developing retail shops (an all-pink confection for jewelry designer Melody Ehsani’s Manhattan location) and trying her hand at residential design (actor Adrian Grenier’s townhouse is in the works).
Currently, though, it’s all Noah, all the time. Bailey-Babenzien is in the midst of planning the brand’s second Japan outpost, opening next year in Osaka in a 100-year-old noodle house. And those corduroy chairs? You can pick up a set of your own when Noah’s first furniture collection debuts this fall. Still, there’s something about hanging out in a place that already has the best playlist and herbal tea on tap that makes you want to kick back and stay a while.
Bailey-Babenzien’s Decorating Tips:
Glossy tile lining the inside of a doorway and a nautical-inspired graphic create cool (and easy to DIY) details.
Free up floor space by suspending a clothing rack. Luxe materials, like leather and brass, elevate the look in every sense.
When space is at a premium, built-in storage is your friend, such as an upholstered bench with plenty of room to stash stuff away.
Stretched cotton rope adds texture to the tea bar area, along with grasscloth wallpaper (the ideal surface for pinning up inspiration—no visible marks!).
Magnify an artwork’s impact by displaying things in multiples. Louis Philo’s series of painted branches helps the gallery wall look cohesive—and notches in the wood-paneled backdrop make switching things up easy.
More Decorating Tips:
Painting Your Walls Freehand Is Incredibly Liberating
Who Needs Cabinet Doors When a Simple Piece of Fabric Will Do?
5 Designers on the Lessons They’ve Learned From Renovations Gone Wrong