A Design Lover's Guide to New York City

A Design Lover's Guide to New York City

Regina Yunghans
Jul 23, 2013

The task of writing a traveler's guide for design aficionados in the city that never sleeps is, well, daunting. A truly exhaustive list would be practically endless (and/or ever-changing), but here I've touched on some of the don't-miss spots if you're a design lover visiting our fair city...


  • Museum of Modern Art: The MoMA's building, designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi, is a work of art in and of itself. Admission is free on Fridays, from 4 to 8pm.
  • The High Line (above): Elevated on an old freight train line, the High Line was revitalized into a contemporary park designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Field Operations. The park allows visitors to traverse from Gansevoort Street north to W. 30th Street without touching the ground below.
  • Chelsea art galleries: Visit west Chelsea on a weekend night and you'll be sure to run into openings at many of the dozens of galleries lining the streets. Two of the biggest galleries in the neighborhood are Gagosian Gallery and Pace Wildenstein.
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum: Although it's currently closed for renovations, this is obviously a destination for design travelers. The museum is located in Andrew Carnegie's former mansion, and two other townhouses on the property make up a campus that includes the National Design Library.
  • Center for Architecture: The headquarters for AIA New York. Stop in here for a look at ever-changing exhibits focusing on New York City architecture. The galleries are free and open to the public. There is an admission charge for special events and lectures.
  • Wave Hill: Visit this public garden up north in the Bronx for inspiration outside of the daily norms. It's an absolute escape to step onto the grounds, sit back in a Wave Hill chair, and meander through the gardens, greenhouses, and galleries. The Wave Hill House, at the center of the property, just reopened this summer after a two-year renovation.


  • 101 Spring Street: The New York residence of artist Donald Judd and the birthplace of permanent installations. Said Judd of the space: "I spent a great deal of time placing the art and a great deal designing the renovation in accordance. Everything from the first was intended to be thoroughly considered and to be permanent."
  • Open House New York: For one weekend every October, the public is invited to tour spaces that aren't normally easily accessible. See private residences, behind-the-scenes perspectives of historic landmarks, construction sites — the list goes on and on. It's always free and always a tremendously fun weekend activity.
  • Governor's Island (above): A former military base, Governor's Island is located right at the foot of Manhattan. Surreal views from the island provide a backdrop for special events and occasional art installations. Travel by ferry to the island on weekends and holiday Mondays throughout the summer. Development of a new public park is underway here.


  • ABC Carpet & Home (above): Shop four floors for beautiful home goods like rugs, decor, furniture, and accessories. When you're done, you can stay for lunch at ABC Kitchen. Shops are organized by designer, and you'll find things here you won't see anywhere else.
  • Van Alen Books: This is the architecture and design bookstore of the Van Alen Institute. It's a new fave since the closing of Urban Center Books.
  • Brooklyn Flea: Whether you come for vintage clothing, antique decor, or food, you'll always find something of interest here (even if it's just a celeb spotting or two).
  • Zabar's: This is a seemingly-endless shop of foodstuff and kitchen gear, a staple of the Upper West Side.
  • Bergdorf Goodman: A New York City department store at its best: ultra high-end goods, a restaurant with food (and decor) to die for, and holiday window displays that are unmatched (even in this town).