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As we’re seeing trends move increasingly towards zanier styles, I’ve been wanting to do an in-depth look at a company that represents one of the better aspects of late modern style: de-fetishizing mass production. While it can’t claim the idealism of the 1950s’ “modernism for the people” approach, the Pace Collection’s  passionate investment in craftsmanship makes them worth singling out. Founded by brothers Irving and Leon Rosen in the early 70s, Pace operated as a critical darling until it closed in 2001, maintaining a compelling presence in the heart of Manhattan. Alongside a strong portfolio by Irving and Leon, the Pace Collection featured works by Janet Schwietzer, Steven Holl, Guido Faleschini (whose “Tucroma” designs for i4 Mariani were picked up by the Rosens, with Pace as the exclusive US retailer), James Rosen, and Adam Tihany. By the mid 80s, with rents skyrocketing, the Rosens found themselves faced with a relatable decision — decamp, as many of their peers already had — for the remote new International Design Center in Long Island City, or double down on their Manhattan presence and hope the visibility would translate to sales. They opted for the latter, opening a Steven Holl-designed showroom on Madison Avenue in 1986. The space was so small they could only display a few pieces from the collection at any one time. These were rotated on an eight-week cycle, while the Rosens commissioned miniatures of the remaining pieces to be displayed on floating shelves spaced along the walls of the showroom. This crafty space-saver also dovetailed nicely with Pace’s customizable offerings. Aside from the imported i4 Mariani inventory, everything else in the collection was made to order by a workshop in Queens that specialized in the exotic veneers that distinguished many Pace pieces. There’s a tremendous alchemy between the brand’s commitment to luxury, and the industrial processes by which they achieve it. Every surface is mediated: polished steel, lacquered or bleached wood, patinated bronze and copper, glass strategically sand-blasted for geometric obscurity.

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