The SoHo Design District Launches in Manhattan

  • On July 31, 2015

The new nonprofit looks to protect the SoHo neighborhood’s character

Andrea Lillo

NEW YORK – The SoHo Design District officially launched this week, looking to protect the Manhattan neighborhood’s character and promote its design community. Twenty leading furniture, lighting and home decor brands with stores in SoHo—such as Design Within Reach, Artemide and Fontana Arte—are members of the new nonprofit.

The event’s speakers—which included such policy makers as Daniel Squadron, New York state senator; Letitia James, New York City public advocate and Margaret Chin, New York City council member—stressed that it was important to retain the character of such neighborhoods as SoHo in the midst of rising rents and with big-box retailers looking to set up shop there. Several mentioned the need to enforce the 10,000-square-foot limit on retailers.

The neighborhood is unique, but—like many places in New York City—rising rents and the larger retailers that can afford them are affecting its character, according to James. Allowing larger retailers to come into SoHo would “destroy the character of the neighborhood.”

The 20 design store members “are more than retail stores,” said Dahlia Latif, president, SoHo Design District, as they also provide information and help the industry and visitors.

With 40,000 practicing interior designers, “New York City has the most designers in the U.S.,” said Ed Hogikyan, senior vice president of marketing for NYC & Co., New York City’s marketing and tourism partner, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago.

The nonprofit will host events in the future, and several are already being planned for Archtober, the architecture and design month in October.