Magic Hill Mercantile Casts A Midcentury Spell On Kingston’s Wall StreetJoan Vos MacDonald | April 27, 2023
Sinatra’s “Girl From Ipanema” provides just the right soundtrack for viewing the carefully curated Midcentury Modern furniture found at Kingston’s Magic Hill Mercantile. That’s why co-founder Maor M. Shefer can’t help but sing along as he shows off the silky white fur on a reupholstered Russel Wright chair or the loveseat he rehabbed in contrasting sections of black and white Holly Hunt boucle.
“The whole vibe of the store is ’50s-’60s-’70s with lots of colors and brightness,” says Shefer, a jazz vocalist, home stager, and interior designer known to his friends as Myron. “I always liked Midcentury furniture. I like to change things. I like fabric. I like to experiment.”
Every two to three months, the store receives a container of vintage Swedish and Danish furniture, which gets a woodworking and upholstery makeover before winding up at one of the two Magic Hill stores. Shefer co-founded the first Magic Hill brick and mortar in Hudson in 2015 with his best friend and business partner Bruce Mishell, an interior designer and abstract expressionist painter.
“We were antiquing in Hudson, which we had done for years, and I said, ‘Isn’t it magical?” Shefer recalls. “‘It would be a great place to open a store.’” The first shop has successfully focused on sophisticated Mid-Century furnishings since opening eight years ago. But over time, it became obvious there were more mercantile opportunities to explore—if only they had more room. So, six months ago, the store owners opened a second location: Magic Hill Mercantile on Wall Street in Kingston.
Mishell, a prolific painter, initially limited reproductions of his paintings to prints and giclées, but Shefer convinced him there were more ways to marry art and the art of marketing, and thus a proprietary line of Magic Hill clothing, accessories, and home goods was born using Mishell’s art.
While visitors might come in initially for the vintage furniture, Shefer receives many compliments on the store’s happy profusion of colors. The glimmering discs of an orange chandelier center the retail space, while vividly colored paintings and prints, mostly by Mishell, fill the surrounding walls. “We decided that since I own my artwork that it would be beneficial to the store to use my artwork,” said Mishell. “Initially I wasn’t going to do it, but it’s worked out really well for both of us. He’s gone crazy with it as a creative director. Now we have our own brand.”
As a result, the Kingston location carries a wider variety of products than the Hudson store. There are accessories, clothing, homewares, and gift items galore—many of which reproduce the fluid patterns and Fauvist palette of Mishell’s paintings. “It’s actually absolutely amazing to see that my work could be on utilitarian objects,” Mishell says. “I’m very happy my work is out there for color therapy and to help people. People who come into the store feel the energy of the colors and many people have told us it brings happiness to their lives.”
Mishell’s lush colors emblazon mulberry silk ties, lacquered trays, silk scarves and even pima cotton t-shirts. Shefer continues to find new ways to present his friend’s art—and expand the definition of what art is. “As an artist you redefine art every second,” says Shefer. “Life is about defining, about changing, transitioning. Why stay the same? We want to experiment. Whatever we see we filter.”
The store’s abundance of colors is not limited to Mishell’s art and the products it inspires. A pair of men’s penny loafers sports joyful primary colors a la Mondrian. Vegan leather loafer slip-ons, fit for a prince, sport detailed embroidered flowers. Color blooms throughout the store—in plush velvet, down throw pillows and monogrammed velvet-lined coasters. Display shelves feature vintage hand-blown Blenko glassware in jewel tones.
“We’re not for everyone,” says Shefer of the colorful and retro wares. “You need to like colors, you need to not be afraid of colors. We’re bold and edgy.”
Along with some fashion classics, like a 100-percent wool trench coat, a selection of cable-knit sweaters, and a lavishly embroidered opera coat, there’s a sampling of vegan leather bags with the Magic Hill logo, even retro scents inspired by the “Mad Men” era. “Everything here we designed and created,” says Shefer, wearing a sweatshirt he designed that reads “Music is Magic.” “We don’t carry other people’s clothes. It’s our brand, our style.”
The store occupies two floors and a third floor will serve as a gallery, featuring works by Mishell and other artists. “I’ve already hung the show that I’m going to be calling 23 for 2023,” says Mishell. “It’s going to be 23 paintings from over the last 23 years. A retrospective that will be opening sometime in May or June at the latest.” After that another show is on the agenda, possible musical events, maybe even poetry readings.
“We took a leap of faith going to Kingston,” says Mishell. “And we’re very happy there.”
Read On, Reader...
Jane Anderson | November 22, 2022 | Comment
The Revived Howland House in Mount Tremper