Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet met when they were both working at the same Chelsea gallery in 2011. They fell in love and two years later decided to open their own shop, Coming Soon. It wasn’t that they knew exactly what they were getting into by running a small business, but they had a visceral sense of what was missing from the marketplace just then. “I do think it was great timing,” Barquet says of that minimalist era of beige rooms, marble slabs, and Edison lightbulbs. “We were like, ‘Well, maybe it’s time for some fun.’”
“It started in my bedroom with a mood board,” Faria says of their first steps. “We felt we wanted to start something for an audience like us,” Barquet adds. “We just wanted it to feel irreverent.” They are sitting in the back of their Canal Street store, the location they opened in fall 2020 after seven years around the corner on Orchard Street, on a pile of rugs from Cold Picnic, one of the many small brands the shop carries.
“Back then,” Barquet says, “it felt like there were two options in terms of going into design: There was the high-end-gallery way or the essentials, like basic, and we thought there was a space for something in the middle. Once we started meeting some of the designers that we still carry, we felt they were thinking the same thing and, like, who’s going to sell them? Where do they fit? They don’t fit into either one of these molds. So I do think to some degree it was also great timing because we were growing at the same time they were. And truthfully, seeing how the people we knew were living, having vintage furniture along with things from CB2 and Ikea, that was what was real to us.”
The store has the vibe of an enchanted playland where color and texture entice you to touch everything. It reminds me of when I first went to Moss when it opened in Soho in 1994. It too was a game changer in a completely different way: the retail store as museum and graduate school of higher design learning, where Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell curated a world of designers we had never heard of — the Campana Brothers, Studio Job, and who had ever seen Maarten Baas’s charred furniture? That same rush of newness hits you when you enter Coming Soon. It has a warm, welcoming charm, a feeling that your life would be better, more joyous, and hipper if only you had one of Gaetano Pesce’s brilliant cartoony wall clocks, a rug or three from Cold Picnic, or some Facevessel glasses by Degen to add to your apartment.
The shop first opened in a 560-square-foot former office space at 37 Orchard Street. Faria and Barquet did a painstaking renovation that included putting in a glass façade, pouring a new cement floor, and building a loft area for storage. Their second year in business, they rented a basement space that could be accessed only from the street, so any time they needed anything, they had to leave the store. Four years later, they took a showroom and began to sell vintage furniture, all the while staging events and happenings in the basement at Orchard Street. “We called it the Plyroom,” Barquet says, because they covered the walls in 8-by-14-inch pieces of plywood. “We at that time thought the basement was fabulous.” They also launched a blog that included “Tiger Homes,” featuring visits to clients’ homes to see how they had incorporated pieces from the store. They would show up with Zodiac masks for the homeowners to wear while leading them on a tour. When COVID hit and the space on the corner of Canal became available, they took it. It had a basement accessible from within the store, so no more leaving to retrieve items.
“Our current store is wild,” Faria says of the design aesthetic. “It’s all scraps. Like the counter was done by Chen Chen & Kai Williams, and it’s all leftovers from their old studio, like pieces of marble and Corian and stuff they just put all together.” The shelves are from the old Mission Chinese restaurant. Faria and Barquet are friends of the owners, helped design parts of the restaurant, and had their engagement party there, so when it closed, they went in with a drill and took down the shelves to repurpose in their store. They decided to save the off-kilter hanging fluorescent light fixtures that had been left at Orchard Street and that “looked like a John Chamberlain,” according to Barquet. “It was the beginning of the angles and the vision of the aesthetic.”
There was never any question that the store would be on Orchard Street. They loved the neighborhood and had been going to their favorite places, like the Fat Radish, Mission Chinese, and Zarin Fabrics for years. “We didn’t know exactly what we would be selling,” Faria says of their initial days in retail. “That is why the name made sense,” Barquet says. “It signified something was coming, but we ourselves weren’t sure what it was.”