BY: Sarah Shanfield
Years ago, Sean Scherer was in Philadelphia buying an antique countertop display case for the future New York City branch of his Andes, NY store Kabinett & Kammer. He drove the ancient case all the way to his hunter-themed store upstate before realizing that hidden in the back of the stylish antiquity were the all-too-familiar initials K & K. It was, undoubtedly, a sign. “An omen,” says Scherer. “And I believe in that stuff.”
Perhaps it is another omen that across the street from Scherer’s new East Village outpost of Kabinett & Kammer (on 2nd Ave. between A and B) is the laundry biz Klean & Kleaner. Next thing you know Nicky’s Vietnamese Sandwiches next door is going to change its name to Knicky’s.
There would be no surprise there, Scherer has been setting trends since he started collecting antiques and developing his signature earth-toned, leather-bound, taxidermy-friendly décor at the ripe age of 16 (check out his NY times mention).
Scherer’s love of post-Victorian Scandinavian biology charts, oak and gold-leaf framed images of vintage military medical photos, and stuffed forest animals with pensive expressions has been cultivated into a style that has become popular to the likes of such celebrities as Anderson Cooper, Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris, and a surprisingly macabre-appreciative Martha Stewart.
“There are other shops with similar aesthetics but no one makes it as clean and modern as I do,” says Scherer as he gallops like a matured Bambi around his shop-in-progress. The walls of the proper East Village-congested space are papered with the pages of a moderately disturbing and beautifully illustrated biology text book. “You can have the bizarre and beautiful, but I take the weird out of it.”
Though Scherer’s shop will be filled with the taxidermied likes of a baby zebra, a proud little fawn, and a massive deer with ten-point antlers, the tiny shop is surprisingly more like a cozy cocoa-scented log cabin than a chilly tool shed from Kubrick’s The Shining.
“We’ll say no to the weird stuff,” says Scherer’s partner Rick Gilbert. “Like, any menacing animal, or, fetuses in a jar.” But unlike many antique shops in The East Village, Kabinett & Kammer aims to sell antiques to the person who normally wouldn’t buy antiques. Scherer and Gilbert aren’t interested in pedigree or any Road Show mumbo jumbo, the discerning curators are committed to rustic perfection.
Scherer, in suspenders and what look like Lee Dungarees, manages to embody the aforementioned hunting man’s aesthetic without any hint of douchery or pretense. He waves a hand over a glittering piece of art on the wall, which turns out to be a 19th century German flow chart of jellyfish and other invertebrates. The ink is coruscating, like the pullout posters in Bop! or velvet paintings that glow in black light. “I like taking things out of their contexts, making them contemporary art” Scherer admitted that this piece will be very hard for him to part with. (Just warning you, Amy).
Kabinett & Kammer opens on March 2nd and will be open every day from 12 to 8 pm. Go in, take a look around, and pick up a pair of black beeswax candle sticks to break the ice before you get around to splurging on a set of stuffed bored-looking squirrels and fur covered ottoman to match. Happy antiquing!