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A Unique Addition to Glenwood South: Hipsteria Modern

Hipsteria Modern is the newest small business to appear downtown, located in the left side of the Carter Building near the intersection of Hillsborough Street and South Glenwood Avenue. Open for only a few days, the husband and wife team that run the place were still in the process of getting everything organized when I met with them to talk about their new shop offering mid-century furniture and accesories.

This new small business located in a former textile/sewing factory is the culmination of something that was somewhat of a weekend hobby of the proprietors, Ben and Lee: bringing the gems of mid-century modern furniture to those who love it, at a reasonable price and with the artistic expertise to assist in proper placement in the home.

Above is the newest addition: Isamu Noguchi’s Cyclone Table, which consists of a column of chrome plated steel wires set in to a black cast iron base.

When asked about the niche that Hipsteria Modern hopes to fill, Ben stated that he is attempting to solve the need of the individual who doesn’t want to spend the time walking around flea markets/yard sales, wants to avoid the hassle of Craigslist, or doesn’t feel like dealing with the uncertainty of buying sight unseen on eBay and the shipping issues involved with it.

They aim to provide an experience of finding items that are of great quality at a reasonable price, in a short amount of time.

An assortment of bar accessories, as well as complementery artwork

Ben didn’t just recently get interested in the mid-century modern furniture retail scene, it’s part of a long family legacy that he draws upon to assist his customers. Both of his parents were designers who ran a design firm in New York in the 1950s. They attended Rhode Island School of Design and designed furniture for several companies in Grand Rapids.

He grew up in The Village, where his father had an art studio. He was brought to North Carolina by way of his mother who accepted a position as head of upholstery design for Heritage Furniture (later Drexel-Heritage). She later became the first female vice president of a North American furniture company. There’s even a scholarship fund in her name that allows students to attend NCSU College of Design to pursue further education in the design field. Ben states that growing up in this environment provides a degree of knowledge and wisdom that he uses to assist his customers in finding the right furnishings for their home.

Above is one of Lee’s impressionist paintings

In addition to Ben’s decades-long experience in mid-century furniture, his wife Lee is an accomplished artist with a studio at Artspace who can also lend advice not only with furnishings, but also the overall aesthetic impact of a piece on the home. Many of her illustrative and impressionistic works of art are throughout the store and available for sale.

Hipsteria Modern has a somewhat untraditional approach to operating a business and creating customer loyalty. Rather than seeing the internet as competition or as a threat, it is used as a marketing tool to draw customers into the store. The website functions both as a virtual showroom and as a communications channel with the “Hipsteriacs”, a group of folks who stay in touch via email to learn of new arrivals, discounts, and are privvy to other benefits by simply being a member. A unique feature of being part of the member list is being able to create a wish list. If there is a specific piece you are looking for, the owners will notify you first when it arrives, so you can get a first look before it becomes publicly available.

An icon of mid-century furniture, Harry Bertoia’s Diamond Chair.

Although Hipsteria Modern is open for business, they are operating on somewhat limited hours while they get everything in place before the grand opening celebration on February 21st. The opening party event is sure to be an entertaining one. There will be live music, including a classically trained violinist who at one time was part of a progressive rock band that was popular in Holland. Ben said he wasn’t sure if you should expect classical sounds or that which sounds more like Jethro Tull.

In addition to the live music, other events on opening night are sure to provide lively entertainment, such as a contest which involves defining the function/purpose of a mid-century modern object. The prize for the successful identification of said object (or failing proper identification, the most clever/comical guess) is an in-store gift certificate. Attendents of the opening night gala are encouraged to wear dress from the era.

For more information on Hipsteria:

14/18 Glenwood Avenue (Front door is down the loading ramp on left side of the image on Google Maps)

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