Bernd Goeckler

The moment you enter Bernd Goeckler Inc., located on East 10th Street in Manhattan, you’re overwhelmed by a whole world of exceptional design. Not only is there a vast array of incredible chandeliers and light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, but the store itself is full of pieces of furniture that could – and do – double up as works of art. Indeed, many people walk in just to marvel at what’s on display.

The store, originally sited around the corner, was opened by Bernd in 1989 after he relocated to New York from Switzerland. The following year, he moved the gallery to its current location, though its size doubled in 2007. Bernd has since retired, but his dedication to high-end pieces has been continued by his niece, Katja Hirche. And while it began as an antiques store, the gallery’s focus has evolved during its three-decade existence.

“We’ve shifted from 18th- and 19th-century Neoclassical and Biedermeier furniture 20 years ago,” Katja explains. “Now we concentrate on art deco and art moderne along with more contemporary things from American, Italian and French artists and designers with whom we work exclusively on special commissions. Each piece is hand-produced especially for our customers. But I think it’s also important to still keep some antique or vintage pieces in our inventory, something that cannot be reproduced, that’s totally unique.”

Whether you’re looking at the store’s more regular furniture – sofas, chairs, tables and the like – or at exclusive pieces made by a roster of high-end designers such as Simone Crestani, Roberto Rida, Paula Swinnen, Franck Evennou and Laurent Chauvat, everything within its walls is genuinely extraordinary. Two Crestani items – his ebullient Bollicine light fixture, which features glass bubbles floating around rectangles of brass, or his even more remarkable Console, comprising a slab of marble supported on delicate glass rods – exemplify the stunning inventory.

Much as pieces like these might look museum ready, Katja is adamant that nothing at Bernd Goeckler should be bought just to put on display. “A lot of people worry about interacting with these pieces because they are expensive,” she explains. “But I think you should use them. Put your feet up on them! They’re unique works of art, but they’re also meant to be enjoyed.”

It’s also important for Katja that there is a regular turnover in the store. She constantly travels to ensure that there are always plenty of incredible pieces on show and for sale. What’s more, it’s essential to her to keep what’s on offer as exclusive and unique as possible. By importing pieces from abroad, she ensures that will always be the case. “I usually go to Europe every six weeks to find things,” says Katja. “And we have a shipment approximately every eight weeks. We also try to make new gallery vignettes every two to three weeks, and obviously we have to replenish the things that we sell, too.”

Above all, Katja wants to make sure that Bernd Goeckler remains a destination for the truly discerning customer – a real-life treasure trove in the very centre of Manhattan. “I think it’s important for us to stay a singular boutique gallery that makes people’s dreams come true and provides them with opportunities to encounter things that they might not know about. It needs to be special. There should always be a little bit of magic in the store.”