Must-See SoHo: 12 Things to See and Do
by Claire Lui, 01/01/2010
Photo (left) courtesy, Saturdays; Kittichai photo by David Mehr
Where can you find a woven wooden basket (imported from Finland, naturally) exactly the same as the one in architect Alvar Aalto's country house for $75, and then walk a few blocks and find an authentic Eileen Gray Bibendum Chair for almost $10,000? SoHo, of course. A love for fashion and art—and a real respect for design rather than for designer labels—provides the momentum behind everything in this neighborhood, which is short for "South of Houston." Even the average guy and gal on the street are carefully styled: the locals have a distinct sartorial flair, with an edgy, sophisticated chic.
The area's ambience begins with its architecture—SoHo has the largest collection of cast-iron buildings in the world, mostly dating from the late 19th century, each one distinctively frosted with ornate cornices, columns and railings.
Terrific shopping is a given here, but the singular collaborations between designers and stores are what really stand out—and why fashionistas will camp out to be the first to buy pieces from Jil Sander's line at Uniqlo. Stores, both big (like Apple) and small (like Kiosk), are all directly plugged into the art world, and their events and merchandise reflect some of the best curatorial eyes in the City. A surprising number of artists from SoHo's early loft days still live in the area, and their talent is subtly woven through the streets and shops: painters own yarn stores and grocers style heirloom vegetables in beautiful still lifes.