White on White: Mid Century Modern Designs for Less
White is the creation of Karazona Cinar — the downtown Robin Hood of vintage furniture — and his merry band of hip misfits who have collectively managed to build a thriving low-cost manufacturer of high end furniture in New York’s recessionary service economy.
“There’s nobody in this business doing what Karazona is doing,” says Bert Oullette a furniture bounty-hunter who arrived on Friday with a truck-full of chairs and credenzas by famed designer Florence Knoll which he had salvaged from an office building in Canada.
Cinar, who has also had success as an East Village restauranteur, recognized the growing appetite for modern designs when a friend offered to buy his dining room table in 1997 – a table he had acquired at the Salvation Army. Shortly thereafter, he launched a small used furniture store called Lollipop out of his home on Essex Street.
In 1999, he moved the business to White Street just east of Broadway, hired designers, and began manufacturing his own versions of classic pieces by the likes of
From the beginning, he was able to undercut the market — which was dominated by furniture boutiques selling original pieces or higher cost Italian imitations – and still make money.
“The industry was kidnapped by art galleries and museums,” says the 37-year-old Kurdish immigrant from Turkey’s troubled Tunceli province. “They think this is only for a furniture elite….We want to bring this design to the public at the lowest price possible.”
White now has 70 employees and 80% of its business is wholesale. It manufactures pieces in factories all over the world, including one that it owns and operates in Turkey and which Cinar’s 73-year old father manages.