Ebony, ivory and nude. Bucket bags, tassels and totes. Fried wontons, fortune cookies, meringues and Hakutsuru sake. Human beings, a dog and a Keanu poster. These are the hues and shapes that occupied the humid Building Block flagship during its grand opening last Friday in Chinatown.
Established in 2011, Building Block is an accessories brand that was founded by sisters Kimberly and Nancy Wu.
“The intent of each product is to clear away conventional standards of luxury by magnifying what is essential and editing out excess. Building Block suggests a minimalist alternative to accessories, finding continual inspiration in returning to square one,” according to the company’s website.
The brand combines essentialism and functionalism for heavy duty wear. The straps are durable. Each fold is tough to the touch. However, the leather is sleek. And the silhouette is a sight for sore eyes.
The bags and other accessories are designed in Los Angeles and assembled in Taiwan, the motherland of the siblings. The leather is Italian, and the hardware is sourced from various parts of the world.
The flagship was designed by Kimberly and Nancy with the help of their friends Kristin and Shin Dickson-Okuda of Iko Iko/Waka Waka. The curved drywall, the bent metal reception desk and the the giant steel coils were all custom made. Overall, the design and building process took five months. A former pyramid of limited edition posters face the Phoenix Bakery’s “Sweets for the Sweet” mural.
According to the Wu sisters: “The goal behind the space was to create an appropriate context for our bags, so we took inspiration from our favorite exhibition “Machine Art” at MOMA from 1934. The original exhibition highlighted industrial objects such as coils and propeller blades that when taken out of context, became abstract and geometric in their beauty. This approach to presentation spoke to us because a lot of our designs include utilizing raw materials such as wood and rubber, and elevating them to a luxury level. We wanted to define the space with the type of beauty that is inherent: Beauty that is embedded in function and form and is classically appealing because of the honesty of pure material.”
The accessories brand sits comfortably between the price points of Céline and COS. The Beltpack, a half cylinder punch on an adjustable belt loop, costs $415. The Line Tote, a rectangular, two panel bag made of duck canvas, costs $122. The leather tassels come in colors ranging from brick to taupe and cost anywhere from $52.50 to $125.
Building Block is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 12-7 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. at 970 N. Broadway, #104. Fore more info., visit www.building–block.com.