Furniture retailer West Elm has designs on opening New York gallery

Company is collaborating with Uprise Art to create high-end store with contemporary art space

The international furniture retailer West Elm is getting into the art business. The Art Newspaper understands that the company is planning to launch an exhibition space as part of a new concept store in New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood. West Elm plans to showcase a new line of high-end design on the first floor and contemporary art on the second floor. The programme is organised in partnership with Uprise Art, an online gallery that specialises in affordable work by emerging artists. In recent months, the gallery also co-organised a series of exhibitions at a new Starbucks coffee shop in Chelsea.

Uprise Art, which offers work by more than 70 contemporary artists on its website, allows newbie collectors to buy work on an instalment plan and pay off their purchases with as little as $50 per month. The company’s founder declined to comment on the collaboration with West Elm. A spokeswoman from West Elm said she could not confirm the details of the project.

West Elm is not the first furniture store to make a bet on the art market. In 2013, Restoration Hardware launched RH Contemporary Art, a six-storey, 28,000 sq. ft gallery in Chelsea. But the project struggled to crack the clubby New York art scene. It stopped organising public exhibitions in September 2015 and is now open by appointment only, a spokeswoman confirms. RH Contemporary Art became integrated into the company’s overall design strategy, RH Modern, in October.