The History of the D&D Building: An Inside Look With Fabrics & Home

interior of D&D Building

Interior of D&D Building

Good design takes time, but the right timing can also create something wonderful, too. Take the Design & Decoration Building, for example, which for half a century has housed everything interior designers require — from fabrics to wallpaper to furniture to lighting to accessories.

Developer Aaron Diamond first envisioned the spot (979 Third Avenue) as a perfect space for an apartment building. But the best-laid plans sometimes fall apart … and Diamond found as construction began that the real estate market didn’t support more housing.

His partner, Abner Rosen, suggested creating a central shopping location — full of individual showrooms for various home design brands to sell to those in the trade exclusively. His father, Joseph, worked in the textile industry and had often seen companies crammed into unsuitable offices. The first tenant to occupy a showroom was Samuel Sack, founder of Saxony Carpet Co., Inc. Scalamandré also became an early resident.

Quadrille fabric

Quadrille fabric

The Early Days

When the D&D building opened in 1965, most of the showrooms were filled; Rosen and Diamond discovered their timing was perfect and the 18-floor space became an important part of the New York design industry. It remains such a hub today, although time has changed it. Charles Cohen, president and CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation, purchased the building in 1996.

Under the new ownership the D&D Building underwent renovations, including a lobby redesign, a 2003 expansion that added an annex with an additional entrance at 222 East 59th Street, and a new facade. Potterton Books, a London-based chain, opened in a space near the lobby to offer an array of tomes on architecture, home décor, landscaping and D&D showroom-produced editions. Assouline Books and Gifts moved into the foyer a few years ago.

Some companies have remained at the D&D Building for decades. Brunschwig & Fils, for instance, came in at the beginning and is still there, even after Kravit Inc. acquired the company in 2011. Today, DDB has more than 100 showrooms, representing 3,000+ manufacturers, available to design trade professionals.

Holly Hunt furniture

Holly Hunt furniture

Contemporary Times and Challenges

Covid altered the day-to-day at the D&D Building, just as it impacted the daily lives of everyone else. The restaurant closed and business shifted to increased online and virtual activity.

Most of the brands have a marketing department, a strong website and social media and handled the change well, said Jared Braverman, marketing director at the D&D Building. Still, despite internet presences, the showrooms prioritize remaining personal, fostering relationships with the interior designers that work with them, and providing a physical place to find ideas. “People want to see things in person … there is still a place for the showrooms here in the building,” offered Braverman.

With the days of the pandemic waning, the D&D Building is replacing Zoom with live events once more. This October, the D&D Fall Market October featured receptions; showroom grand openings, open houses and trunk shows; and several panels, including, “Interior Design from Castles to Cottages & Everything In Between,” with designers Holly Holden, Brian McCarthy, Greg Tankersley and Robert Ventolo, moderated by Peter Davis, editor in chief of Avenue magazine. Several authors did book signings, including Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson (“Bold: The Interiors of Drake/Anderson”). More events will follow in the future, according to Braverman, along with new building amenities, possibly a café.

Photos by Lorie Thur Katz

Garrett leather samples

Garrett leather samples

Kroll Showroom

Kroll showroom

 Nina Campbell living room

Nina Campbell living room

Holland & Sherry living room

Holland & Sherry living room

Wolf Gordon studio

Wolf Gordon showroom

Elitis showroom

Elitis entryway

For more behind-the-scenes content, visit the Fabrics & Home blog.

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