April 18, 2024
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BaBoo Is a Design Marketplace for Israeli Craftsmanship

The BaBoo showroom.

Galit Chay travels the world in search of unique pieces created by local craftsmen that will add a touch of elegance or whimsy—and sometimes both—to your décor. Her collection is on view in BaBoo, Chay’s newly opened retail storefront at 90 Franklin Street in Tribeca for both professional interior designers and discerning design enthusiasts.

Come in and browse the trove of quality, handcrafted items and see what would look fabulous in your home. Maybe it’s a crochet swing, just right for a children’s playroom, or a stool designed in the shape of a chicken, where you can put your feet up and relax without ruffling anyone’s feathers. Categories include furniture, kitchenware, decorative objects, children’s products, aromatics, lighting fixtures, rugs and carpets. “I try to keep 30-40% of the collection from Israeli makers,” Chay said in a Zoom interview from the showroom. “I love their work.”

The common denominator to the collection is craftsmanship, personality and exclusivity. “I only buy things no one else in the area is selling. If I love a piece and find out another retailer is selling it in Soho or close by to New York City, I’m not going to buy it. We strive to be unique; we don’t want to step on anybody’s territory and we want to be fair.”

Animal stools from Japan.

A native of Tel Aviv, Chay first opened BaBoo in San Francisco in 2013, and recently relocated to New York. She loves her new storefront where people from the trendy neighborhood can stop in to view her collection and chat. Designers are thrilled about the unusual finds that make their clients light up with joy.

“I could have moved to a location like the New York Design Building, but I genuinely like the interaction with people; I need the constant flow of foot traffic and action,” said Chay. After going through the pandemic, she is happy to be seeing people again. “We had to close for eight months during the COVID lockdown, and then I relocated to a larger space in the Bay Area design district, where I was limited to in-person meetings with designers by appointment only. For three years, I missed the joy and energy from interacting with people.”

In addition to the Tribeca showroom and retail space, BaBoo also sells online, but there are limitations: You can’t search for something you don’t know you want. “I must have a physical space because people enjoy seeing things in person,” the proprietor said. BaBoo offers unique and interesting items that really stand out, like the fascinating stools from Japan designed to look like animals with legs and a tail but no head. BaBoo is the only place you can find these for sale. “Typically, not many people search on Google for stools that resemble an animal,” she said. “But as soon as people see them in person, they’re immediately hooked.”

BaBoo specializes in decorative and accent pieces, focusing on smaller items rather than larger furniture like dining room and bedroom sets. “Our aim is to curate pieces that bring joy and make you smile, with interesting colors and textures,” said Chay. “Unique accent pieces, like the chicken foot stools, not only tell a story but also make for excellent conversation starters. And then there are our felted rocks, a favorite among kids. They’re soft, versatile, and can be used as a seat, for rolling, or as a cushion.”

The chicken foot stool.

Chay, once an avid traveler before COVID, eagerly looks forward to resuming her adventures around the world. “I like to explore the smaller streets where locals are crafting unique things, places where you can find hidden gems that larger companies often overlook because they are not made in mass quantities.” Since the pandemic, she has been working more with artisans she already knows and can order from online, which also provides added flexibility in requesting customizations due to their established relationships. “If we are working with an interior designer who is fitting an item for a customer’s space, we can often request adjustments to colors, shapes and sizes.”

Chay searches for specific items that not only complete certain categories but also resonate with her when she sees them. “In 2017, I wanted to add to my collection of high-end indoor swings, so I started looking around and found an incredible company in Poland,” she recalled. “The next year, I discovered another company in Israel specializing in amazing all-crochet-style swings. I do also attend trade shows, but often find that most exhibitors are presenting items that look too similar or that are mass-produced.”

Chay initially moved to the United States to study management consulting at Columbia University. After returning to Israel and working in the field for a while, she realized it wasn’t the right fit. Her true passion had always been about design, aesthetics and craftsmanship. Upon moving back to the U.S. (to San Francisco) with her husband and young son, she couldn’t work until she received her green card. So she decided to study interior design and ultimately turned her passion into her profession, a career that suits her perfectly.

BaBoo is located at 90 Franklin Street in Tribeca, near Soho. It’s an area with many home décor shops, boutiques and galleries. Plan a design day and visit BaBoo and the other eclectic stores in the area. Hours are Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

A crochet swing.

Visit BaBoo online at www.baboosf.com  and follow on social media at:

Instagram Baboo_nyc

Facebook baboosf

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/baboosf

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/galit-chay-3a289a6a/

Contact BaBoo at [email protected]

Schedule an appointment at https://calendly.com/baboonyc

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