Nathalie Smith of Global Table uses the word “editor” to describe her talent. With an arty background and an English major, she ended up styling and editing at a succession of fashion magazines. A coveted job at the time, girls lived lean, dressed somehow better than their peers, would sometimes receive shoot samples, and occasionally travelled. The perks were supposed to make up for exhausting hours, dismissive treatment and the lack of a living wage. “Fashion chewed me up and spit me out.”
When magazine personnel regularly shopped Paris, Nathalie noticed an inordinate number made a beeline for ceramics from Compagnie Francaise de l’Orient et de la Chine. The choice was illuminating. There were a great many shelter magazines at the time. Aspiring aesthetes were just as interested in reflecting their characters at home as on their backs. Confident her eye could translate from apparel to tabletop/décor and resolved never to work for anyone else again, Nathalie decided to open a retail store-with no business experience and no advisor. “I’d never even worked at a shop.”
She gathered a collection of ceramics and glassware and did de facto research from a tiny booth at The Grand Central (Station)Holiday Fair. It sold out every day. Clearly she was doing something right. Dominique Browning, eventually at House and Garden, was one of her customers. “I thought, this could work.” Armed with a personal loan, Nathalie took a small space on sleepy Sullivan Street in 1996. The only destination on the block was the endlessly running “The Fantastiks” at The Sullivan Street Playhouse. She maintains the location. “It’s crammed with things, like a treasure shop. People sometimes spend hours.”
Most stock was purchased at shows and markets abroad. Natalie loves to shop. “Costs were reasonable then even with import tax.” She’s always felt it’s unnecessary to spend a great deal of money for beautiful objects. Prices at Global Table range from $5.00 for a decorative dish to $400.00 for an occasional table/alternative seating. For six months, the entrepreneur spent every waking hour learning her trade. The store was discovered by stylists and designers as well as locals and became an immediate success. At Christmas, extra help had to be hired. “After that I was able to live a life.”
In November 2012, a second Global Table opened on Amsterdam Avenue. “I was shipping a lot uptown.” This one has extremely high ceilings and spacious open shelving to showcase the fineness and shapes of her choices. It’s beautifully merchandised with a cohesive aesthetic.
Contemporary work by a fan of Caravaggio. Color, scale, and texture are artfully placed in sympathetic composition. Pieces come from about 15 different countries and include locals like great looking decorative laundry bags, placemats and napkins by Simrin, linen pillows from Thomas Paul, and ceramics by Judy Jackson. “I buy things I like and what I’d be happy and proud to have in my home.” Her apartment, featured in Lili Diallo’s book Details: a stylist’s secrets to creating inspired interiors, is a genuine reflection of the shops.
There are Senegalese and Thai baskets, Moroccan stools and floor standing vases, porcelain from Australia, Egyptian alabaster, French fish plates, filigree serving pieces from India, Italian ceramics-some rather Fornasetti, Japanese glassware; oversized bowls in nuanced colors, an assortment of coasters, candlesticks, lots of little spoons and dishes on a counter top…you get the idea. Only a small sample is on the web site: www.globaltable.com.
Nathalie travels much less now that she’s developed relationships abroad and has a two year old. She remains hands on and still spends 3 days a week in one of the 2 shops. “I’m definitely more of a creative than a businesswoman, but I manage to make it work.” Well worth visiting.
Global table ships UPS anywhere in the country. They gift wrap simple and smart in tissue and craft paper. A wedding registry exists.
107-109 Sullivan Street
Open 7 days a week, noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday
471 Amsterdam Avenue between 82nd and 83rd St.
Open 7 days a week, noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday