I often get asked…”so what’s the deal with the D&D building?”
hey want to know if they’re allowed inside the infamous “to the trade only” building in New York City without being escorted by an interior designer or architect. So, here’s the lowdown, not only on access, but on all you need to know about this iconic building. I hope you find it insightful!
Located on the upper east side of Manhattan, the Decoration & Design building, otherwise known as the D&D, is home to the leading high-end fabric, wallpaper, and trim brands in the world. It also showcases several high-end furniture, lighting, accessory, hardware, window treatment, and other beautiful home product showrooms. There are 18 floors, with each floor containing approximately 10 showrooms.
Many of the showrooms represent several different brands, so as you can imagine, it can get a bit overwhelming for the new visitor. There is a nice café on the 14th floor that serves lunch and is open to the public. The café space can also be rented out for private events by the public and is very nice. There is also a great bookstore on the lobby floor, called Assouline Books, which sells fantastic design, art & architecture books. If you love design, I highly recommend a visit to Assouline and yes, the public is welcome to peruse and shop in the bookstore.
The D&D is specially set up for interior designers and architects and therefore does not cater to the public, which is why it’s called “to the trade only”. In order for the trade to shop in the showrooms, we must first fill out an application and open a trade account. The showrooms won’t do any business with a designer without opening an account first.
This doesn’t mean, however, that if you wander into a showroom they will call security and have you thrown out. Different showrooms have slightly different rules, but basically anyone can go into the showrooms and look around. You can get a sense of what the different company’s product style and look are, and see what their overall product lines include. That’s about all you’ll be able to do though. so unless you are with your designer, you won’t be able to get much more information. Occasionally, a showroom might give you a sample or a “tear sheet” on a product with a photo and measurements, but most likely they’ll say you need to contact your designer. If one of my clients wants to go to the D&D by themselves, I will give them my business card to show the salespeople, and then call my sales rep at the specific showrooms they want to visit to alert them in advance that they are indeed my client and that it’s ok to show them items and give them samples and tear sheets for items they’re interested in. The showroom salespeople still won’t give any pricing directly to the client, that will only go to the designers.
I have been shopping at the D&D for clients for over 20 years and so I’ve become an expert on its layout, showroom product offerings, and have gotten to the know the major players intimately. I’ve seen several of it’s represented brands come and go through the years. I’ve also watched many of my favorite brands merge, evolve their product lines, expand, or occasionally go out of business. I’m familiar with most of the salespeople in many of the showrooms and have developed great working relationships with them. It’s become a second office in a sense for me, as I’m sure many of my fellow designers feel as well. With such a concentrated amount of the world’s best products in one building, there is no other place in the area like it. So, at least for me, it’s the only place I need to go to shop for fabrics, wallpaper, or trims. Through the years, I’ve definitely carved out my favorite “go to” showrooms in the D&D and will be highlighting them in my upcoming posts, so stay tuned for those!
The question of whether to shop with clients or not at the D&D pops up on occasion. I tend to do most of the fabric, wallpaper, and trim shopping without my clients because I work 10 times faster alone. The sheer volume of fabric options in the building is totally overwhelming to navigate for someone who is not familiar with shopping there. When I have to go through the fabric or wallpaper wings slowly with a client, and then explain why I think a certain fabric is appropriate or not, you can imagine how much that would slow down my selection process! Only if a client has a very specific item in mind for something and is capable of making decisions quickly and/or just wants to experience shopping at the D&D building, will I agree to shop with them there. Typically I find it’s a much more efficient system if I shop alone and then meet with my clients at their home to review the samples I’ve selected for their designs. 99.9% of the time they love what I’ve picked out!
I hope you found this post insightful! Let me know what you thought in the comments section below or if you have any questions that are still unanswered.