This is New York.... Sometimes, before you settle on that ho-hum Crate & Barrel sofa, it's important to go somewhere just to drool -- somewhere where you hope the salesperson doesn't throw you out, and the ottomans start at $5,000. Usually, this implies Italian, but the most surprising things can happen... In my (ongoing) quest for a sofa, I breezed into Format on Wooster Street a little while back. The endlessly sleek white sofas sat like Ferraris waiting to be moved deferentially to so many cavernous Tribeca lofts. Kevin Butler said "ciao" to his guests and floated across the floor to where I was eyeing a Moroso couch much like that in the picture.
He was supportive when I confessed my appallingly low price range and told him what I was looking for. He thought for a moment, and then he said they might just have something in their basement. Would I like to take a look?
A basement? My heart quickened. So down I went with Kevin to discover a world of yesterday's stars stacked cheek-by-jowl: sofas, elegant bar stools, a round lounge chair -- Ferraris in off-colors, or custom pieces orphaned by fickle wealth. Prices vaguely within reach. Kevin and I climbed over bright velour chaises and pushed stools aside to get a better look. Far from throwing me out, he seemed a co-conspirator in my mission to get a good deal. I left empty-handed, but fully-satisfied, and may yet go back. It's a secret: the basement at Format and Kevin Butler. Pass it on.
*Format also has a location at 179 Lexington Avenue, Tel: 212.696.2661
(Originally reviewed by Oliver on 6.25.04)