Kevin Burke and David Kimelman are having a homecoming of sorts.
WAG is visiting the Hudson Valley couple in early November on the fourth day of business at the Burkelman home design and accessories shop on the Bowery in Manhattan.
The Cold Spring residents were longtime city dwellers, with this area a particular favorite — in fact, they even had their first date right around the corner from the shop.
“We’re East Village people,” says Burke with a laugh.
“Eastsiders,” Kimelman adds.
The city shop marks the second brick-and-mortar incarnation of the brand, which launched as a website back in 2014. From the start, Burkelman has been a collaborative effort, drawing on Burke’s years as a creative executive in the fashion industry and Kimelman’s work in documentary and portrait photography.
The original shop continues to thrive in Cold Spring since opening in the summer of 2015 — first mentioned in a WAG story on Cold Spring shopping in spring 2016 followed by a full feature that summer.
Progress, it’s clear, continues.
“The main thing we’re doing is building a brand, so the form it takes reveals itself to us, ” says Kimelman.
“Though we’re solidly Hudson Valley,” he adds — noting he and Burke are raising their 4 ½-year-old twin boys in Cold Spring — a shop in the city was the next step.
The neighborhood was selected for its understated cool — or, as Kimelman adds, for being “very chic, sophisticated … a little quietly though. There’s newness, oldness … a dynamism.”
Landing in Manhattan was almost a given considering Burkelman’s reach from its northern flagship.
“We’ve seen people come up from the city to shop our rugs,” Burke says of Burkelman’s most successful offering. While many would make a day of it, having lunch in the Putnam County village after shopping Burkelman, they decided to offer their city-based customers a closer option.
And in true Burkelman tradition, a disco ball makes an appearance, adding that bit of funky glitz to the front window, inviting shoppers into the stylish surroundings filled with sophisticated selections.
“It’s all custom,” says Burke, pointing to contemporary glass display cases but also the sleek overall design. He notes he and Kimelman met B. Alex Miller, partner of the noted Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design firm, through Cold Spring and tapped the Brooklyn-based firm for the interior work.
When looking at potential spaces, they found many of the classic long-and-narrow retail options — “We would think this would be great for a jewelry store,” Burke says of places they scouted.
In the end, Burkelman NYC ended up being bigger, some 1,800 square feet versus 1,000 in Cold Spring.
As Kimelman says, “Originally, the plan was just like, ‘We’ll do a small version,’ but then it was like ‘Go big or go home.’”
Adds Burke with another laugh, “We do the opposite of everything people do. I’m not sure if you noticed.”
Here, the shop unfolds gently from front to back, starting with entertaining and decorating, moving on to what Kimelman calls “our accessories moment,” and then to the home spa selections before ending up at the area devoted to that most popular category.
“People really know us for our rugs,” Burke emphasizes.
The new space has allowed for expanded offerings, particularly in fine jewelry. There are pieces featuring opals and pearls, which Burke notes are ideal, “for special events and gifting for the one that matters.”
There is also much more related to unwinding, such as robes created from handmade textiles from Turkey and a new category called flounce wear, “a term we invented, we think, shapeless, sizeless and easy to wear,” says Kimelman.
While decorative goods for one’s home remain a mainstay, Burkelman has also always been a place for gifts.
“People shop us for the gifts that matter,” Burke says. “We see it over and over again.”
Because of that, Burke and Kimelman are more than ready to share their holiday picks, already having selected the top-five options.
It’s no surprise they start with their signature candles, 100 percent soy wax, cotton wick and hand poured in New York. Developed over three years and offering a burn time of some 60 hours, the affordable-luxury ($38) line is led by the signature That Hudson Valley Candle, a mix of fire, tobacco leaves and moss that evokes a winter fireplace or summer campfire.
“That’s what it all comes down to, what they smell like,” says Kimelman.
The second pick is the Opalescent Champagne Coupe. “It’s scalable to whatever you want to spend, (buy) two, eight, 20,” he adds.
Rounding out the picks are a marble cheese board with brass details; colorful sheepskin pelts ideal for the baby room, to throw over a chair or even for a dog bed; and the quirkiest little mouse lamps, white resin designs available in three whimsical poses and ideal as a nightlight.
All sum up the Burkelman approach.
“It’s beautiful, interesting products — but it’s fun,” Kimelman says.
Though these holiday picks can also be found online, Burke says some products — such as the unique jewelry and the newly arriving flounce wear — will be offered in-store only.
“Burkelman is all about coming in — see, touch, feel and smell.”
Burkelman is at 332 Bowery (at Bond Street) in Manhattan; and at 101 Main St. in Cold Spring. For more, visit shopburkelman.com.