CALLIGARIS OPENS IN SOHO
LET’S MEET OWNERS NIKI & SHAOKAO CHENG
By Joe Meny
Italian furniture store Calligaris opens first flagship store in New York City’s trendy Soho neighborhood.
Asian Fusion talks exclusively with owners Niki and Shaokao Cheng, who share the inside scoop on all the excitement.
AF: Can you share with us how this came about? Why Calligaris? Did you approach them, or did they find you?
NC:The Calligaris brand has always been my first dream, even before we started Boconcept. When we were ready to expand our business, they were also ready to explore the possibilities of a mono brand store in NYC.
AF: Who is the target market for Calligaris?
NC: Calligaris’ target market are clients who are design conscious and appreciate great quality furniture.
AF: What were the factors that helped you choose the SoHo location for Calligaris?
NC: Soho is still a design-focused area in NYC. When we saw the opportunity at the 55 Thompson Street location, we couldn’t let the opportunity of this great location pass us by. This is a destination spot, and we believe the neighborhood craves something like Calligaris.
AF: What is your concept for Calligaris? What do you want your customer to feel when they walk through the door?
NC: At Calligaris, you will get the highest quality product for the best price. Plus a delivery timeframe of less than 3 weeks!
AF: Is this the first flagship store for Calligaris in New York City? How does your Calligaris store in SoHo compare to other furniture stores?
NC: Yes, this is Calligaris’ first mono brand store in NYC. We feel that the rest of the brands that are also in Soho are compatible with Calligaris. In this market, as intelligent and savvy NYC shoppers, people like to shop many different brands.
AF: Is there a well-known celebrity or personality who has been, or is, a customer of this brand? Is there a spokesperson or well-known representative?
NC: No, not yet. But we will make that happen! The brand is still “new” in NYC.
AF: In general, can you share with us some information about Calligaris? Why is it so popular in Europe? How would you describe the style of the furniture?
NC: We call ourselves “Calligaris Smart Italian design”.
What does “smart” mean for us? Smart is harmony between technique and aesthetics, between reason and emotion; because each Calligaris piece represents the know-how of our experienced designers combined with our creativity applied to contemporary living.
AF: Why are we popular in Europe? The Calligaris brand has been around for 90 years and it has always been one of the pioneer brands in Italy.
NC: Four powerful words help describe the Calligaris brand:
*RELIABLE: a company based on a “can do” attitude and passion.
*INGENIOUS: offering smart products, the brainchild of intelligent design.
*ACCESSIBLE: accessibility in terms of price, use and adaptability.
*VITAL: a colourful and well-designed universe that dictates the style of Italian furniture.
That is how Calligaris has become an international brand that stands for quality and creativity. With a wide, well-structured range of functional furniture that is unmistakably stylish, that leaves room for individual feelings, indulging tastes and blending with other shapes, colors and materials, for an infinite number of options.
AF: Is there a signature piece that you feel best represents the brand? Is there an iconic piece that you would recommend to the first time shopper?
NC: There are no special signature pieces, but Calligaris is famous for their extendable dining tables. We are always striking for a balance between great design, functionality, quality and good prices.
AF: We know that you have been very successful with another brand in the New York market. How do you feel Calligaris is positioned in a competitive New York furniture market? What will be the key to the success of Calligaris in New York?
NC: We believe the keys to Calligaris’ success in New York are the following:
1. Modern but not minimal
2. Italian design sensibility, not Scandinavian design
3. Strong product design, especially in dining and bedroom
4. A large collection that is in stock and quick to ship
5. Price point that starts at a West Elm price, and going up to a Minotti price
AF: In the 2017 collection, what’s hot? Such as color, accessory, design, or individual piece?
NC: The new pantone color for 2017 is ‘Greenery’…but don’t run out and paint your whole living room ‘Greenery’! This color is great as accent pieces. A side chair, an artwork piece, or pillows. It is like bringing the nature from outside to inside to create a peace of mind and serenity.
AF: You are a “power couple” who participate in many art, cultural, music, and philanthropic endeavors. As your businesses continue to grow, what are some ways you balance your work life and family life that help you to always be happy and positive?
NC: Work life balance is very important to us, but as entrepreneurs we are always working so we really focus and put in the effort to create a balance. We do this through a daily yoga practice that is both meditative and physical. We’ve designed a home that’s spacious yet “hygge”, which in Danish expresses a space that is comfortable and filled with love. On the weekends, we like to stay at home and cook, bake, watch movies, play games, etc. with the kids. It’s truly when the family quality time happens for us.