WHAT WE LOVE: An Upstate New York art and antique shop that is set up with a gallery of vignettes, each telling a story. Founded in 2007, Kabinett & Kammer is a contemporary curiosity shop of antiques, natural wonders and art. A medical, botanical and zoological design resource, it’s the dealers’ secret with everything from vintage school charts and taxidermy to 19th century primitive utilitarian furniture.
WHO: Artist, collector and author, Sean Scherer. Sean’s recently published book Creating Authentic Interiors is a visual treat sharing and explaining the artist’s style and approach to interiors.
WHERE: In the charming Upstate NY town of Franklin at 422 Main Street, where Kabinett & Kammer shares a space with designer Gary Graham.
In conversation with Sean Scherer, artist, author and shopkeeper at Kabinett & Kammer
Why did you name the shop Kabinett & Kammer? It’s German, Kabinett as in Cabinet of curiosities and Kammer, which is a chamber or room, so in effect it is Cabinet and room.
What are Kabinett & Kammer’s signature products? I always have an assortment of antique boxes, mirrors, and stools.
What do you think makes Kabinett & Kammer unique? My artists approach to items. Since I’m primarily a contemporary artist I take a more contemporary approach to 19th century antiques. I often liken it to walking into a real life Joseph Cornell assemblage. It’s an art installation that happens to be a store where you can buy the individual items.
Who are Kabinett & Kammer’s customers? People looking to find the interesting and unusual for their homes.
How has the internet impacted your business? Social media has had a big impact in y following and being able to reach a worldwide audience,.
Have you adapted your business to the pandemic? We are lucky to have a large space that has social distancing built in so we haven’t had to change much this season. More out reach via social media on Instagram.
Sean Scherer, shopkeeper at Kabinett & kammer
Who inspires you? Axel Vervoordt.
What inspires you? Honesty and authenticity.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a collector and artist, and still am! As shared in my book, it was at a dinner party at my house that friend and fellow shopkeeper, Brooke Anderson, prodded me to consider taking my home to the people. I had been scouring antiques shows and flea markets for decades, but oddly, the thought of opening a store had never crossed my mind. There happened to be an old corner store with floor-to-ceiling windows available; it had been the town’s original post office. It seemed like the perfect spot to give it a try.
From the outset, I strove to create a store that would feel at home in Miami or Paris, New York or London. With what I had learned from Brooke, I wasn’t going to dumb down the aesthetic or try to make it feel more country oriented. The whole store would be a revolving work of art and would act as a laboratory for my evolving collections and displays. I also wanted to emphasize the modernity of the utilitarian pieces I favored: objects and furniture that people had made in their barns for specific purposes and uses. They weren’t intended to be artistic, but simplicity combined with practicality—plus years of use—had transformed them from the ordinary into the extraordinary. I would build narratives around these objects, linking different items by color or shape but also juxtaposing them in surprising ways. It was all about the story and sharing my knowledge. To my surprise, the shop became an instant success.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Freedom to express myself.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Make sure you love and know your field deeply.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? The same, I see the shop as an extension of my art so no different really.
What are your favorite local independent businesses? Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta and Greentree Home Candle
I wish I could… go on a buying trip in the South of France
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“Obviously a strong social media presence is more important than ever before. Not just with online sales but to direct traffic to your bricks and mortar store. I think it will continue to be that way for sometime, if not the future.
422 Main Street, Franklin, NY