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The New York Design Center is a Must-Visit for Interior Lovers

Laveta Brigham

In bustling midtown Manhattan, The New York Design Center (a.k.a. 200 Lex) has been a haven for interior designers, decorators, and design lovers for nearly a century. The center is America’s oldest furniture and design establishment, located at 200 Lexington Avenue in a historic 16-story building designed by Ely Jacques […]

In bustling midtown Manhattan, The New York Design Center (a.k.a. 200 Lex) has been a haven for interior designers, decorators, and design lovers for nearly a century. The center is America’s oldest furniture and design establishment, located at 200 Lexington Avenue in a historic 16-story building designed by Ely Jacques Kahn in the 1920s. Today, the space houses nearly 100 showrooms of furniture, decor, textiles, antiques and vintage.

Inside, design enthusiasts can discover everything from a new shade of paint to custom wine storage and furniture in styles ranging from iconic to avant-garde. The center is a treasure trove of finds that can transform and enhance any space in a way that feels deeply unique and personal.

Read on for a crash course in the New York Design Center’s legacy and why it should be on every design-lover’s radar—plus a few standout showrooms where you should book appointments ASAP.

A Storied History

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The Gallery at 200 Lex

When the building first opened in 1926 as the New York Furniture Exchange, access was limited to furniture and department store buyers. In the late 1970s, as the showrooms shifted their focus towards interior design and architecture, they began to welcome consumers as well.

“We’re the oldest, yet most progressive building of our kind in the United States,” says Jim Druckman, president and CEO of the New York Design Center. “At 95-years-old, it is our history that propels us into the future and makes us an institution of design.”

The building houses over 500 lines of contemporary, traditional, and custom fine furniture in a whopping 500,000-square-foot space. It’s also filled with lighting, wall coverings, decorative accessories, and antiques. One highlight of 200 Lex is The Gallery on the 10th floor, which showcases an eclectic mix of more than 50 vintage and antique dealers.

In person and via the online site, powered by Incollect, shoppers can explore beautifully curated vintage and 21st-century designs ranging from midcentury chairs to sculptural Murano glass, 19th-century lighting, Persian rugs, one-of-a-kind artworks, and more.

“With pieces sourced from around the globe, there is always something for everyone,” says Gallery Director Suzy Rechtermann. “The space is set up as a gallery, with each dealer offering their own unique perspective and inventory that is constantly changing. This allows us to offer a one-of-a-kind shopping experience for designers, collectors, and consumers.”

Designer Matchmaking

While exploring the mind-blowing showrooms of 200 Lex on your own is part of the fun, if you’re not sure where to start, a pro can help narrow down the seemingly endless choices. That’s where the New York Design Center’s Access To Design program comes into play. The service pairs designers with clients based on their preferences and customization needs.

“We’re really putting consumers in the hands of the designers as much as we can. It’s about making the connection and giving designers clients that want to work with them,” adds Alix Lerman, chief marketing officer. 200 Lex also holds an annual showcase event called What’s New, What’s Next, with programming on new materials, products, and industry trends.

Whether you’re touring the building on your own or have a designer to guide you, here’s what you can find to fulfill your design dreams.

Surprising Hardware

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SA Baxter

A Hudson Valley-based metal foundry, SA Baxter has carved out their niche in architectural, handmade hardware such as cabinet pulls, door levers, and wall sconces. Craftspeople use a 10-step process known as lost wax casting to produce pieces with the weight and texture of handcrafted antiques, reimagined in bold and often unexpected shapes.

“While every piece of hardware inherently has utility, our pieces represent something more,” says Tara Limoges, director of sales and marketing for the brand. Their work can be seen in homes and castles (yes, really!) across the world.

Star pieces include the Shark Collection designed by Sasha Bikoff, a series of knobs and pulls that resemble the animal’s teeth, and the Fluted Collection by Robert Stern, streamlined, industrial-looking door handles, knobs, and locks adorned with striated grooves. The 4004 Art Deco Suite is an updated take on 1920s design, while the Hill Park Collection experiments with organic movement by using curved knobs and handles for a modern, sleek look.

Stunning Built-ins

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Amuneal

Since its inception in 1965 as a magnetic shielding business, Amuneal has grown into one of the country’s foremost designers of bespoke and artisanal furniture in striking materials—think built-in shelving, cabinetry, desks, and doors, all of which can be seen within their showroom at 200 Lex.

Their bespoke Loft 2 Person Desk is an elegant office solution (and a dream for couples working from home). For wine lovers, the gleaming Collector’s Wine Room Shelving offers two storage options, an open wine rack to display bottles and solid oak shelving along the bottom for case storage.

The family-run company also offers unique design options such as this custom wood cabinetry in dark silvered walnut, complete with machined brass pulls, gray smoke mirror cabinet doors, which they created for a private Boston residence along with a kitchen island and a dramatic drop chandelier.

Mystical Paints

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Benjamin Moore

Legacy paint brand Benjamin Moore recently linked up with celebrity medium Mystic Michaela to explore how one’s aura influences a space, and how to choose a paint color to match. Their long-lasting paints, including the AURA Interior collection, come in an array of curated colors that can help any individual express their energy throughout their home.

While the heritage brand is available to consumers through independent paint, decorating, and hardware stores, designers and consumers alike can get a first look at the seemingly endless rainbow of hues (available in five luxe finish options) at their 200 Lex showroom.

Artful Accessories

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Global Views

Don’t miss Global Views on the 6th floor, a total home resource offering boldly original lighting, accessories, furniture, decor, textiles, and more. “They have such a breadth of product in every style and they’re all beautifully manufactured, plus they’re constantly refreshing their line,” says Lerman.

Favorite finds include a Draped Glass Chandelier featuring hand-pulled glass rods over an antique bronze finished frame, and the Library Bookcase Collection, a modern revival of a classic updated in mango wood. Expect to find surprising art pieces, too, like the Ben Floor Mirror designed by FORM Design Studio. Inspired by the work of a famed Belgian artist, this mirror was created using an artisan technique of melting glass onto an underlying, undulating form—with striking results.

Timeless Designs

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Profiles

Profiles has been a staple at 200 Lex for 30 years, providing unique pieces like the Lahar Coffee Table by Michelle Gerson for Randolph & Hein. The finish of the elegantly curved, layered table can be customized—maybe all the better to complement Wacky Geometric Wallpaper by Brett Design, a bold geometric patterned design with interchangeable color blocks.

If your style skews more minimal, try the cozy, plush, Altamont Swivel Chair, or the elegant sophistication of the Bonaparte Sofa framed in buttery leather.

Legacy Lines

cliff young ltd

Cliff Young Ltd.

Founded in the late 1960s by Alberto Azzolina, who later took the company’s name as his own, Cliff Young Ltd. quickly became an in-demand modern house known for its CY Signature Collection. The brand’s signature, award-winning style is kept alive by Azzolina’s daughter, Leslie Zarra, who has expanded the business over the years to include a curated selection of lighting and rugs in addition to furniture. Nearly everything is customizable or one-of-a-kind.

Stop by to ogle the glamorous CY Nobu Entertainment Unit and an Art Deco-inspired CY Allegro Sectional complete with elegant tapered armrests. Other highlights of the showroom include the Quickship Tosca III Table & Ottoman, a finalist in 2022 NYCxDesign Awards.

As you’ve undoubtedly already gathered, there’s no way to take everything in on one visit. Focus on what excites you most—and plan to return often.

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