In the current home furnishings climate modern and cleanlined styles are gaining ground very rapidly. However, in the post-2008 economy, consumers are looking for great design, quality and excellent service all at a reasonable price point. Living Modern offers just that and caters to a wide range of consumers, from Baby Boomers to Millennials.
Living Modern has arrived in the Dallas market, offering the kind of fashionable furni- ture and home accessories one might see in high-end trade showrooms at prices that are mid-range. Owners Norma and Evan Gerstein specifically chose a space on Oak Lawn Avenue, north of the Design District and in the core of Dallas’ booming Uptown-Turtle Creek and Park Cities areas, in order to be accessible to the general public.
They also have an extensive trade program catering to interior designers, builders, architects, developers and home stagers, which offers special discounts and other benefits, including waiving receiving, unpacking, assembly and storage fees.
After six months of extensive renovations, the Gersteins opened their 7,500-square-foot showroom last November. “Our showroom concept is very innovative in that we sell everything off the floor,” says Evan, as he strolls between beautifully staged living room and dining area displays, featuring Italian makers such as Nicoline Salotti, Tonin Casa and Dall’Agnese. “That means you have to replace things very quickly. You have to be very diligent about buying and take a little bit of risk about what you think the market will like.”
Norma handles the buying decisions, drawing on extensive retail experience and a lifelong passion and exposure to interior design. After earning a master’s degree in visual arts from the prestigious Domus Academy in Milan, Norma spent 10 years running her parents’ 30,000-square-foot furniture showroom in her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, ultimately transforming it into a design studio, revamping the product offerings and providing clients with a broad range of services.
She and Evan met at a trade show in High Point, North Carolina, where she was buying for her furniture business and he was selling a decorative accessories line. The couple married not long after and later opened their own retail space in Monterrey, selling high-end plumbing fixtures and decorative hardware. Both of Evan’s parents have been interior designers since the early 1970s. In 2012 they sold their fixtures business and relocated to University Park.
“She’s the creative force behind everything we’re doing,” Evan says, proudly, as he gestures toward the expansive showroom floor. The space is stocked with hundreds of sleek, modern pieces, from upholstered and leather seating to coffee tables, sideboards, accent pieces, lighting and accessories. A large, honed white marble-top dining table with “butterfly” legs, carved from a single piece of solid Italian walnut and designed by Angelo Tomaiuolo, reflects the light by the street-front windows, while shelves stocked with richly hued throw pillows create a colorful divider along the opposite wall. The back of the showroom is mostly dedicated to a chair gallery, with dining and side chairs in dozens of styles, all kept in stock so customers can enjoy their purchases right away.
Living Modern also sells a wide range of artwork, including one-of-a-kind originals by local and nationally known artists as well as prints and giclées.
The showroom features more than 60 lines of high quality merchandise from curated vendors, which means they are not mass-produced and new styles are introduced at various times during the year.
Says Evan: “Our mission in the beginning was that we wanted to open the doors and have everyone who came in say, ‘Wow, that looks good.’ Then let them touch, feel and sit in it. Then look at the price and say, ‘That’s a good price.’” Judging by the activity on the showroom floor one recent weekday afternoon, Living Modern appears to have met its goal, hitting a sweet spot with the Dallas market.
Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design.