The First Annual Shelter Island Design Walk went off on Sunday, after Saturday’s weather forecast was threatening, and the change resulted in a perfect day for the outdoor visits.
With the humidity lower and the temperatures mild on a sunny day, visitors to the six design studios on the Island filled the open spaces to hear from the designers about their unique styles. Conceived by designer Frederic Bernstein and Ram Design owner Cristina Peffer to be mutually supportive, it brought together a design community that’s been taking shape here over the last couple of years.
A group of masked visitors, many from the art and design world themselves, stopped in to each studio in turn. Refreshments were served and each visitor got a gift bag at the end. At Marika’s Eclectic Boutique, where her collection of gently-used furniture is a familiar part of the landscape on South Ferry Road, the owner talked about how the business has grown since her father encouraged her to begin it back in the 1980s.
Asked if there is a current trend to put together different styles or eras, she said she was seeing a lot of modern mixed with rustic. Guests praised the frequent turnover of inventory at Marika’s, so that every visit brings new surprises.
Mr. Bernstein welcomed visitors to a backyard oasis fitted with outdoor furniture that is exclusive to his shop. Mimosas, mint tea and quiches were served. He described how he had developed his style as a self-taught designer, first working in fashion, then creating sets for plays, now focusing on home interiors.
The mimosas, welcomed by the guests, proved fatally attractive to yellow jackets, who swarmed around the orange juice and champagne drinks, then swam drunkenly before succumbing.
Some of the visitors, already familiar with Mr. Bernstein’s work, praised his style as being “joyful.” The designer said he found the increase in residents who’d decided to stay on this winter a positive force, and highlighted some recent additions to the business community, including the cheese wagon and the new seafood place replacing Bob’s.
“Everything’s up,” he said, “There’s a really nice tone here now, without the obnoxious drivers you find in other parts of the East End.”
The tour moved next from the Center to Bridge Street, where three new studios are clustered. Ram Design, owned by Cristina Peffer and Bill Tancredi, introduced guests to featured artists Louise Eastman and knit wear designer Nancy Winter, who were in attendance, as was artist Adrianna Shamaris. Described as the Number One dealer on the 1st Dibs website, Ms. Shamaris has art on display throughout the store. Ms. Peffer told visitors, “The store should be a unique art experience. I want the store to feel like a composition.”
Next door, at Heiberg Cummings, partner Jill Dienst of Dienst+Dotter introduced guests to the Scandinavian antiques and period pieces displayed in the front of the Bridge Street office. “We love to be on Shelter Island, it is heaven on earth,” said Biernt Heiberg. “We hope to make Shelter Island bloom.”
At Dirt Design, upstairs from Marie Eiffel Market, in a beautiful loft overlooking Dering Harbor, audiences met Scott Murphy and listened to a recording from Dirt Design partner Lucas Lai on his philosophy of design, including quotes from different poets, underlying the historic and metaphysical approach to his work.
Up the hill, on Grand Avenue, Patricia McGrath gave some practical tips to the gathering in the backyard of her shop, Coastal Cottage. One recommendation: “Invest in rugs and upholstery — something that people don’t change much. It helps furniture to hold up nicely.”
Her shop reflects her clean, fresh approach to decorating for Island life: “I don’t go towards kitschy beach stuff, I like to honor this beautiful place we get to live in so close to the water.”
She said it’s important to listen to what the client is saying. Do they like to entertain, cook? Do they prefer gathering spaces, or places to go off to be alone?
“I like it,” she said, “when the client says ‘I come home at night, I just open the door, and I’m just happy to be here.’”