Despite its widespread recognition as the hub of established culture, Park Avenue is the image of serenity on a sunny summer afternoon. Having passed the rush that’s brought on every morning by the folk in suits, it now stands still, with the occasional resident seen strolling down the long sidewalk, periodically glancing up at the window decors of the stores lined up at every corner, which try to entice potential shoppers to take the plunge and enter.
Among them, nestled in the corner of 59th and Park Ave, stands Scully and Scully. But this particular home furnishings store is distinctly separate from its surroundings. It boasts gold embellishments at the entrance and the bright light of it’s interior can be seen from the outside, making it a fitting establishment on this long coveted avenue. But it does not work hard to coax viewers to enter. While most stores present their product to passerby, Scully and Scully displays its meticulously curated selection of items, confidently allowing for the choice to be made by the customer on whether they’d like to keep walking.
Perhaps this confidence stems from its history. The store opened its doors in 1934 and is the oldest boutique on Park Ave from 34th to 96th Streets. Originally owned by a married antique dealer couple, it is now owned by their son, Michael Scully, who has expanded the boutique to more than twice its size over the years. Adored by international and domestic heads of state, celebrities and fans of the curated selection of items the store offers, Scully and Scully is not an unearthed gem.
It is the carrier of primarily traditional home furnishing items from select, mostly European vendors such as Herend, Hermes, Halcyon Days, Moser, Hermle and Queen Lace Crystal. Most of the merchandise is the product of month long trips by the owner Michael Scully throughout Europe in search of vendors to represent. Thus, the store is nothing short of a lens through which only items of quality can be seen.
When you enter through the tall doors held open by the doorman, the first thing you note is the long standing traditional influences on the space itself. The source of the brilliant light are the numerous large chandeliers hung from the high ceilings, further reflected by the green carpeting and the light yellow walls, resulting in a grandly lit area.
The classical influence can further be seen in the crown moldings, framing the walls adorned with merchandise and house décor and it can be heard in the pleasant classical renditions of the popular songs of today. But once details take shape in your view, you can begin to spot the esoteric, Avant Garde and contemporary influences in addition to the classical, on the countless home furnishing décor laid out in the deceptively large space, where each corner is seemingly occupied by one shiny item or another.
Where to look in an area so richly filled with even the smallest items? If you are looking for a particular item, you can certainly find the area designated for its category, but if you are a casual browser, brought in by the pull of curiosity and gleam, begin at your left. There you will find items from arguably one of the best selling brands that Scully and Scully carries: Halcyon Days.
Halcyon Days is a British company supplying luxury home goods that supplies English handcrafted luxury home goods. Famous for enamelware and fine bone china, it is a fitting supplier of a place like Scully and Scully. Displayed in cases are small enamel boxes, a row of colorful bangles and luxurious silk scarves, with the common trait of having abundant detailing on a limited size item. A word that easily sums up the flair of the items is “delicate”. The small enamel boxes are no bigger than the size of one’s palm, but with such an intricate and delicate design, it is hard to imagine them being made of a substance so durable. On these boxes, are either short sweet messages to a loved one or finely detailed illustrations of flowers. The meaning of the term “halcyon days” is a “period of calm”, often amidst a stormy time and it’s not hard to feel what the boxes try to incite. Seeing these items with the sole purpose of showing gratitude, appreciation and love placed side by side, it is hard to not get nostalgic of the calmer times they represent.
Perhaps the most important relationship Scully and Scully has had for its entire existence has been with the Hungarian brand, Herend. The amount of sheer space dedicated to the intricately designed Herend pieces speaks to its value. Beginning near the entrance of the store, a long stretch of the wall houses the famous figurines, organized in a color coordinated fashion, enriching the viewers’ experience of looking at the exquisite art pieces. A consistent piece in every color is the bunny figurine, some crouched in a lifelike fashion, others personified in their selected poses. A few among them are holiday themed, and if not out of adoration, one can’t help but be mesmerized by the amount of detailing on an item so small.
This year marks the 60th year of this partnership. Herend is undoubtedly the most influential source of fine china, dating back to the 19th century when it served primarily the European royalty. Today, it supplies the largest range of exclusive items to Scully and Scully, enriching its collection beyond those of its competitors. While famous for building an avid following among the collectors of porcelain figurines, Herend is also known for the uncompromising stand it has taken when it comes to producing quality items, despite the staunchly capitalist market for porcelain. Situated in a small town in Hungary, it has only a handful of artists who are certified to work on the designs, and equally as selective amount of people who perform the grueling effort of making the translucent porcelain base the company is famous for. While the porcelain market is constantly bombarded by products made in Southeast Asia, that are produced quickly and in bulk, finely made porcelain is completely different from its counterpart.
The miscellaneous items housed across from the Herend figurines range from walking sticks to board games, with some stationary present.
More illuminated than the rest, stands the section for handbags, seemingly in every color imaginable. The eye is drawn from here to the flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the store.
On the second floor, you can find a small selection of what the store offers for furniture. Most of the items here are made of leather, a notable one being the long stretch couch in a dark rich brown color, with starkly tufted indentations. It is somewhat intimidating to sit on it at first, but once I do it, it is evident that comfort is not compromised for the luxurious aesthetics.
As easily notable on the second floor are the rows of pillows and footstools. While these items are standard household items, it is amusing to see how they can elevate a household bearing the needlework they do. The pillows have an endless range of design themes, including animals, flowers and serene scenery. The small footstools are equally as elaborate, with some of them bearing needlework that capture a story scene.
The rest of the ground floor is dedicated to jewelry and of the most lucrative category of items in luxury goods stores: chinaware. The style of the jewelry pieces is fitting for a place like Scully and Scully, with strong emphasis on stones such as sapphires, rubies, citrines and amethyst. The space designated to the these eye catching works is similar to other boutiques on Park Ave, with display cases showcasing the pieces to any admirer or collector.
The china is interspersed in a section dedicated to miscellaneous items, some of which include gorgeous, towering grandfather clocks and crystal ware, transparent and reflective of the bright light. The first indication of the presence of china service comes from the set tabletop on an extended dining table, placed directly under a grand chandelier. Here, it is easy to get a visual of how these items would come together in a themed or special occasion dinner.
Looking at the store as a whole after exploring all of the details it has to offer, it is easy to get reflective. A carrier of quality product is no assurance of long term survival for traditional stores like Scully and Scully and it has acknowledged this changing of times, through investing in its own, now wildly popular e-commerce site. Today, the web supplies a major portion of customer base, though the long standing tradition of taking call orders and advertising through the store’s own catalog, has not been eroded.
But where does it stand on the push back against luxury lifestyle and the tailoring of the products to the old traditionalists? For some, the tides are changing for how they wish to consume quality products, in every aspect ranging from the price point to the ethical dilemmas in supporting luxurious goods stores. But this is where Scully and Scully perhaps differs from other, namely chain retailers of luxury goods. For one thing, it has a reputation of being a respectable name among its customer base, who are the highly respectable people of society themselves. The durability of the store in its market, while remaining wholesome and small-knit, are qualities that are not easily overlooked by conscious shoppers. The emphasis on heirloom investment pieces also elevates the store’s status as a source of materialism and promotes its focus on timelessness. Equally important to note is how despite luxury analysts quoting the company to be one of the most successful in the retail industry, it remains a small business with only one physical store in the world, and promotes other small businesses by relying on the niche products of the industry.
Whether you enter this grand store as a determined customer, or just as a casual browser, the experience of being in a space enriched with timeless items, much like the business itself, is an experience most will not forget nor regret.