Joining the ranks of acclaimed galleries like Negropontes and Maisonjaune Studio, who returned this year to NYC’s carefully curated Salon Art + Design fair, London-based homeware and gifting platform ABASK set a standard for enticing, accessible decor with their debut booth. This was the first-ever physical presentation in NYC for the retailer, which partners with more than 200 global artisans for an inventory of more than 4,000 different home-design items. And if the enveloping green hue they chose to decorate their booth is any indicator (as well as their marvelous product selection of pieces from the likes of Carl Aubock, Oeuvres Sensibles, Lobmeyr and Osanna Visconti), we foresee continued commercial growth and an ever-expanding, dedicated consumer base. In perusing ABASK’s installation, we fell in love with so many items, each with its own story and all within a broad spectrum of pricepoints. To learn more about the vision of the brand, as well as how they’re capable of delivering to 165 different countries within four days of a purchase, we spoke with co-founder and CEO Nicolas Pickaerts—who even explained to us what an ABASK wink is.
Why was Salon Art + Design an ideal partner for ABASK?
Salon Art + Design is renowned for displaying the world’s best-in-class design objects and for bringing the international design world together. At ABASK, our mission is to spotlight the world’s most exquisite craftsmanship and home-design objects, so when we were invited to be a special exhibitor we were immediately on board. We are also approaching our first anniversary, so bringing all our incredible makers together both in our booth and on our stage during our panel session felt like a great way to celebrate one year of ABASK. While we are a global direct-to-consumer retailer, the chance to present ABASK in real life so that visitors could enjoy a physical touchpoint was a fantastic opportunity for us.
What led you to stage such a distinct, green room?
The shade we used is the ABASK green that is our signature hue. We were thrilled to have the brilliant creative director Stefan Beckman on board to design the space as we really wanted to make the booth stand out. It turned out to be the perfect background color to display all our home-design objects in Stefan’s captivating set design that perfectly conjured ABASK’s home-design wisdom and tongue-in-cheek wit. He said he wanted “to celebrate the eclectic and unique nature of ABASK’s home-design objects by creating a fantastical, surreal and immersive world that conveys its warmth and appetite for fun,” and he absolutely did that.
What did you choose to display and why? How is it a reflection of what ABASK offers?
At Salon, we spotlighted 100 of our world-renowned makers which included over 600 items, 60 of which were exclusive to ABASK—and that is just a flavor of what we have on offer. Currently, we stock over 4,000 home-design objects on ABASK.com. At Salon, we wanted to show the breadth and depth of our home-design offering, incorporating all our rooms—including the dining room, the snug, the games room, the kitchen and the study—as well as our aesthetics—modernist, minimalist, bohemian and classic—presenting not just the makers who people are already familiar with, but the lesser-known artisans who have amazing stories to tell and that we take pride in sharing.
Where have you and your team dedicated time in the year since ABASK was founded?
The customer’s experience is at the heart of everything we do and we have placed the utmost importance on enhancing and fine-tuning the user journey—from first encounter to receiving their purchase—to ensure it’s a seamless one. Our buying team has continued to hone our edit based on what we know the ABASK customer is responding to, which in turn has propelled the launch of more rooms and more opportunity to share our makers’ work and we have also developed our trade service, where we work with interior designers to help source the smalls for their projects.
How do you curate your offerings on the site? In turn, how did you build relationships with more than 200 local and global artisans?
Both Tom and I feel very fortunate to have a brilliant team who are all at the top of their game. Our buying team, led by buying director Bryony Sheridan, is constantly on the hunt for exquisite talent and interesting design objects all over the world and their tenacity and taste is reflected in our diverse offering. Once we have invested in a maker, we remain in close communication with them, building relationships on trust and mutual respect, which often leads to exclusive collections such as archive re-editions. On ABASK.com, we present our objects in the rooms they have been designed to be used in, which is how our customer likes to shop and allows us to create little worlds which we communicate with our original storytelling, interviews and exclusive tastemaker edits from the ABASK collective across the website and our social-media platforms.
Your delivery promise—one to four days in 165 countries—almost doesn’t seem possible. Can you tell us why it’s important?
People were used to receiving fashion purchases within that timeframe but not home-design objects. Because we are a retailer that buys and holds stock, as opposed to a marketplace that redirects to third parties, we are in a position to offer this service and guarantee is reliability. At ABASK, our modus operandi is to take the hard work out of finding, buying and receiving a unique design object—whether that be for oneself or as a gift—and so our promise of delivering to 165 countries within four days is absolutely essential to that. We spent a lot of time working with the artist Sarah Martinon to develop the artwork for our packaging, too, as we want people to feel excited when they see an ABASK box headed their way, knowing that they can trust that whatever is inside is going to be exquisite.
Is there one overarching ABASK aesthetic?
All our home-design objects have been individually and specifically chosen because it is an exquisite piece that celebrates skill and artisanship so our curation has that in common; all our products are either handmade or have the hand touch. Aesthetic-wise, we are working toward four aesthetics that our curation falls into but as far as one overarching theme goes, I would say it is more of a mood than one aesthetic; everything on ABASK has something special about it, which we call the ABASK wink.
And finally, is there something you wish consumers would know about ABASK that they might not know yet?
The most important thing to us is our customer-first ethos which transcends throughout every area and touchpoint. Being a retailer that sources, curates, buys, sells, packages and delivers all our home-design objects—as opposed to a marketplace that redirects customers to third parties—is absolutely key to that. That’s how we can guarantee the best-in-class customer service that is hard to find elsewhere in the home-design space.