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Only in New York

Jul 31 2016

Our designers, anthropologists, and architects are professional wanderers. And we don't have to wander far in NYC to find inspiration—it's right outside our door. Take a tour of some of the local experiences on our radar this summer.

The Met: Manus X Machina

This year's exhibit by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute explores the fashion designers’ attempt to reconcile hand-made and machine-made. Using the lens of 6 métiers of fashion—embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework, and leatherwork—museum goers can explore how the balance between man and machine has shifted since the industrial revolution. The simple layout allows you to focus in on the details of the ensembles, some of which are enhanced by a backdrop of elaborate ambient projections. Perusing the pieces in the exhibit is only half the fun. Take a moment to step back and observe the crowd coming through. Its popularity has tourists from Indiana walking through next to hip fashion grad students next to retirees from the Upper East Side, all producing a cacophony of approval, disapproval, exhilarated sighs, and scoffs of disbelief.

Manus Xmachina 1

Image by Metropolitan Museum of Art

Manus Xmachina 2

Image by Albert Vecerka

Russ & Daughters Cafe

For their 100 year anniversary—yes, they opened in 1914—Russ & Daughters decided to expand and open Russ & Daughters Cafe, a place where one can finally enjoy all of their classic Jewish food while sitting in a booth (the original location has no place to sit down). Designer Kelli Anderson led the makeover of the brand’s iconic imagery, creating custom fonts on menus and a WPA-era-inspired tile facade.

Russ Daughter Bag Pen

Image by Kelli Anderson

Bag, pen, and menu graphic design.

Russ Daughter Interior

Image by Kelli Anderson

The interior of Russ & Daughters Cafe.

Inutilious Retailer

This shop in the Lower East Side is an art project disguised as a storefront. And though "retail" is in the name, you won't be able to actually buy anything here. The unusual "shopping" experience starts long before you even walk into the shop. First, interested visitors message the retailer through the store’s Facebook page to get the address. Then visitors show up to an unmanned storefront and must use their imagination to answer a question and enter on the other side. Inside is a secret workshop with more than 1,000 Victorian printing blocks and letters. The catch is visitors can only take something if they create a piece of art to leave behind using the supplies, which creates a cycle of connection between creators and shoppers. We chose a mass-market polyester garment and turned it into our own version of a little black dress. We decided to take home a t-shirt adorned with an artfully crafted burger, which was designed by a Serbian artist. With no currency involved, you can still feel the presence of an economy—one where stories about consumption and connection drive demand.

Recommended by guest author Daniel Miranda, Design Researcher, IDEO New York


Image by Daniel Miranda

IDEO designers Daniel Miranda and Sera Koo.


Image by The Guardian

Inside of the shop at Inutilious Retailer.

54 Below

This intimate and luscious cabaret space below the old Studio 54 space offers a respite from the bustle of midtown. You descend through a brocaded staircase and into the opulently appointed dining room, designed by theatrical designers John Lee Beatty and Ken Billington. As you tuck in closely to your fellow audience members (it is a tight space and you frequently end up sharing a table with total strangers), you'll have a moment to chat and get a bite or sip before the show gets going (I highly recommend the 54 Manhattan, but ask for cherries instead of the orange twist). 

Though the food and drink is great, the star of the show is really the stars who perform there. From Broadway powerhouses such as Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Barbara Cook, and Norbert Leo Butz to lesser known, but equally impressive talent, you are certainly in for a mind blowing performance.

54 Below 1

Image by 54 Below

Inside 54 Below’s Main Dining Room.

54 Below 2

Image by 54 Below

Entranceway of 54 Below.

54 Below 3

Image by Jenny Anderson/ Broadway.com

Patti LuPone performing at 54 Below. 

  • Mollie West Duffy

    Senior Organizational Designer, IDEO New York
    Mollie loves creating order out of chaos and helping people work better together. In her free time, Mollie enjoys taking personality tests, listening to podcasts, and seeing comedy shows.
  • Daniel Neville-Rehbehn

    Global Leadership Coordinator, IDEO New York
    Daniel works with IDEO's Global Managing Directors to support a variety of global projects and strategic initiatives. With a background in theatre and nonprofit administration, he is passionate about the power of in-person interaction and is always looking for new ways to orchestrate moments of connection.