From handmade, poplar lamps and brass sculptures to sleek, ergonomic lounge chairs, The Beck offers interior design enthusiasts a chance to support artists of various disciplines in the Hudson Valley while furnishing their homes with pieces that are personal, yet functional.
A Mixed-Use Space
Located in historic downtown Rhinebeck, The Beck opened in July 2020 and is co-owned by Ana Claudia Schultz, owner and interior designer of Ana Claudia Design, and her husband Aaron Smyle, president and founder of Smyle & Associates, a tax and accounting firm. When the lease ended for Smyle’s previous office space, the couple decided to move to a bigger property and fulfill their longtime desire of creating a dual function office/retail space that they could both work out of while also showcasing local creators’ wares.
From the street, The Beck looks like a typical storefront or gallery. Passersby can view work from the current maker on display in the window, framed by a black exterior. Schultz rotates the featured artist quarterly, with Perch Objects, Amy Adams Ratliff’s line of handmade, monochromatic lamps and brass sculptures, on display until October. FN Furniture, which creates modern outdoor and indoor furniture, designed with sustainability and ergonomics in mind, filled the front window previously.
Behind the walls of the window display resides Schultz’s and Smyle’s offices, connected by an open floor plan. Both operate their businesses out of these rooms, conducting online meetings and in-person client appointments. The husband and wife’s workspaces are outfitted with pieces from several makers, including a custom black armoire from Braxton Alexander and stone coffee table from Taylor Forrest. Schultz designed the curated space to feature pieces that excite her. “The Beck is functionally an office,” she says. “Aesthetically, we tried to make it less officelike.”
While the fixtures commissioned for the office spaces are not for sale, Schultz will show them to people who wish to visit the gallery to share information about the artists that made them. Curious art connoisseurs can schedule an appointment to tour the space, as walk-ins are not currently accepted. Schultz will lead them through the front display as well as the office spaces, sharing information on each maker and piece. Those wishing to buy pieces from the artist in the front window display can do so.
The office and shop blends Schultz’s passion for design with her desire to connect both herself and her clients to their local community of makers. Creating what she calls “thoughtful contemporary interiors,” Schultz wants her customers to be attached to the pieces in their homes and their stories. “It’s really wonderful to have that connection with where you are,” she says.
Schultz’s love for local craftsmanship and experience with retail stretch back long before The Beck opened. She’s worked various retail jobs since she was a teenager, eventually graduating from Florida International University and working in architecture before starting Ana Claudia Design in 2012. Originally crafting jewelry, she ultimately pivoted to interior design. Before moving to Hyde Park, where she and her husband currently reside, Schultz lived in Brooklyn. She always tried to source local makers in her design projects, using city-based artists such as Roll & Hill for lighting fixtures.
She carried that passion for using local makers to The Beck, seeking artists working in a range of styles from around the Hudson Valley to showcase. Schultz chooses artists whose work she admires and who she feels have a distinct approach to their craft while also making pieces that are functional for homeowners. “There’s the initial reaction—love it—then the thought process, when should we display it,” she says.
The Beck’s online shop launched in August to provide a bigger platform for more artists to show and sell their work in a larger capacity than The Beck’s display alone can hold. Pieces can be purchased from makers who have already been on display in the gallery, those who are scheduled to appear in the coming months, and additional makers not scheduled for a gallery residence. Wooden tables from Andrew Finnigan, geometric, hand-printed pillows from Christine Ripley, and clean, angular benches from Phaedo are among the objects available for order online. Schultz hopes that both the storefront and online shop can continue driving business for these artists–which is one of the main reasons why she created The Beck.
“It makes me happy to see them succeed,” she says of the makers, an experience that is especially rewarding after building relationships with them. Shopping and supporting local establishments is important to Schultz which motivates her to use her platform and give these artists more exposure. Creators receive the majority of the proceeds from sales at The Beck, something that Schultz believes is necessary to support both the artists and the small business economy. Since The Beck houses her and her husband’s offices in addition to the gallery, overhead costs are reduced, benefitting both them and the artists. “We’re all sustaining and helping each other in this microeconomy,” Schultz says. “It’s really about uplifting the local maker.”
With the recent opening of its online store, The Beck’s future is full of possibilities. Schultz hopes to continue to grow and include more makers, both at the storefront and in her work for Ana Claudia Design. She sees most of The Beck’s current customers as being homeowners given the visibility of the products from onlookers walking by the gallery. In Schultz’s own company she plans to continue using local makers in her work, something that the opening of The Beck has made more pertinent. “With The Beck we hope purchasing locally made goods will be a philosophy and incentive more of our clients are open to,” she says.
Schultz is open to the possibility of creating a more traditional showroom in the future. For now, she wants to continue sharing the work of Hudson Valley artists with both visitors and homeowners. “We’re really happy with it,” she says. “We’re just taking it step by step, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
6378 Mill Street Rhinebeck, NY 12572