In 2006, Russell Whitmore opened Brooklyn’s Erie Basin with a small collection of jewelry, objects, and furnishings sourced from the Northeast and his native Midwest. Since then, Erie Basin has become well known for a sophisticated, yet approachable, collection of antiques with a unique, well-defined aesthetic.
Erie Basin’s collection is heavily based on classicism and revivalism in the 18th and 19th century. Whitmore is interested in the way earlier styles were appropriated in Victorian and Georgian design – particularly the way classical symbols like urns and the Greek key came to be associated with mourning jewelry. Favoring gold, brass, jet and dark agates, his collection tends toward the dark and patinated, with accents of turquoise, pearls, diamonds, and bright colored paste. Whitmore pays special attention to how antique pieces relate to today’s tastes. Rather than letting collectability and provenance rule, Whitmore values good design that withstands time.
Whitmore studied art at a small liberal arts college in a part of rural Ohio that also happened to be rich in antiques. When he moved to New York in 2003, he was drawn to Brooklyn’s burgeoning contemporary art and design scene, and its association with historical design. Whitmore’s interest in contemporary design continues to inform his collection of antique pieces.
Erie Basin has been praised in international media as one of the best shops in New York, and for its superb collection of antique jewelry and furniture. The New York Times recently wrote that “arguably the most provocative design sensibility right now can be found in Red Hook [Brooklyn], at Erie Basin.”