Marion and Peter Feig chose to specialize in French Art Deco because they clearly love it, but also because it never goes out of fashion. “It’s easy to live with—comfortable, but elegant,” says Marion. “And it mixes well with a lot of styles.” That includes the industrial lofts that defined the neighborhood when their store, Antiqueria Tribeca, opened on Duane Street sixteen years ago, as well as the more traditional apartments that have cropped up since. Moreover, says Peter, French Art Deco is known for its high quality: “Because the French had African colonies, the pieces are made with exotic woods that you can’t get anymore.” For those who really fall for the style, the Feigs also offer design services. Just ask the client who liked the store so much he bought an apartment in the building and had Antiqueria furnish it….
How did you get started in this business?
Marion: Peter worked in the corporate world—he was vice president of international Hilton hotels. We traveled the world, while I followed my passion—I’m an interior designer by trade. We went to all of the antique shops and markets. I bought so much…. After 29 years in the same company, Peter was ready for something new. A friend said, “Why don’t you open a store?” It was a natural thing for us to do.
When did you open this store? Why here?
Marion: We started the business in 1999 and opened the store in 2000. Our friend’s son in the art business drove us around Tribeca. It spoke to us, and these furnishings made sense for these lofts. Also, the neighborhood was a destination. There was the American furniture store across the street, Secondhand Rose wallpaper, six antiques shops along Duane Park. There were restaurants—Le Zinc, Rosemarie’s….
What is Antiqueria known for?
Marion: French Art Deco antiques from the ’30s and ’40s. And mid-century continental furniture, accessories, and lighting.
Peter: We have a 7,000-square-foot warehouse where we refinish, rewire, and reupholster everything ourselves.
Marion: Designers love the warehouse. They always think we’re hiding the best pieces there.
I’ve always loved your logo. Is there a story behind it?
On our very first buying trip to Paris, even before the store opened, I passed a little street fair while getting lost on one of those charming Parisian streets. Among the broken toys and mismatched china I stumbled upon a bag full of old printing blocks. I bought the entire bag without a clue as to what to do with them. The rest is… logo history.
What’s the most satisfying part of what you do?
Marion: Finding the pieces, restoring the pieces. And the interaction with customers.
Peter: We become part of their world.
Marion: Most of our early clients became our best friends.
Most popular type of item?
Peter: Dining suites—tables, chairs, a sideboard.
Most expensive item?
Marion: That sideboard over there. It’s by a designer prominent in the 1930s, Maxim Old. Very, very elegant. It’s made of black lacquer and parchment, with semi-precious stones laid in bronze. It’s $34,000.
Marion: You’re thinking of baking paper? No, it’s goat skin.
Peter: What drums are made out of.
Least expensive item?
Peter: $35 candles from Archipelago Botanicals.
Marion: We have tons of accessories. Barware, crystal, Champagne coolers, decorative vases….
In my experience, it’s best not to refer to one’s partner as property.
Marion: [Laughs.] We buy every single piece ourselves. If we don’t like it, we don’t buy it.
There must be something that’s your favorite right now.
Marion: The mid-century Italian chairs in the front of the store. Very chic. Timeless. I have two in my house and I wish I had room for two more.
Tribeca has obviously changed a lot. Any changes that have surprised you?
Marion: Our customer base is less than 10 percent local, and I’m surprised that hasn’t grown as the area became more residential. People say they want independent stores, but they don’t support them. It’s not just us—I’ve heard this from others. And I do not know why.
I honestly don’t either. Is it because they’re buying everything online?
Peter: The problem with shopping on the Internet is that people might buy a table, but they don’t end up buying an armchair, too.
Marion: It’s like if a man goes to a store buy a suit, the salesman matches a shirt, or a tie.
Peter: That doesn’t happen with online shopping. It really changes your business.
Tell me a crazy customer story.
Peter: A man comes in, looks around the store, and asks if we have more. I say yes, we have a warehouse, and he asks if I can take him there. On the way, he explains that he’s the architect for a project and the owner loves Art Deco. I show him around the warehouse, and on the way back, he asks if it would be OK if he brought His Royal Highness in this afternoon. The Crown Prince of Morocco was building a 140,000-square-meter palace. Later that day, two men come in and say, “With your permission, the Crown Prince would like to come into your store.”
Marion: He was wearing a leather bomber jacket and jeans. Very handsome!
Peter: We show him what the architect liked, and he says, “No, I’ll take this and this and this….”
Marion: So knowledgeable.
Peter: He leaves, and we’re left wondering how exactly how to proceed. The next day, the phone rings: They want an invoice. So I send one. The phone rings again: They want the designer’s discount! He asks if we take credit cards, and I say yes. A few days later, he comes into the store to pay with the card. I asked how we should get him the furniture. “When it’s ready, call this number,” he said. “They’ll put it on my plane and bring it to me.”
Marion: Months later, we were at a great lighting store in Paris, and everything was sold. We couldn’t believe it—until they told us that the Prince of Morocco had just been there!
What does the future hold?
Marion: You tell me! Do you have a crystal ball?
I think you’d be more likely to have one….
Marion: An Art Deco crystal ball!
Peter: At my age, I’m working on a 20-year plan.
Marion: He’s optimistic! [Laughs.]