Hot damn, it’s summer in the city. In celebration, a pop-up beach just appeared for the weekend at 171 Elizabeth Street. “Nolita Beach,” reads a blue neon sign outside the tiny gallery filled with 7,000 pounds of beach sand. Appropriately draped along its walls, like a set of functional tapestries, are beach towels created by ten prominent New York designers such as Jessica Walsh and Damien Correll. The crazed brain behind this bohemian beach is Tictail, an online marketplace where designers and artists create their own stores (think a less crunchy Etsy.)
The trendy towels are for sale at $50 a pop through the gallery and a Tictail page created especially for the project. “It’s one of the first times we’ve created our own store on the site,” said Dan Blackman, head of brand design at Tictail. Nolita Beach, explains Blackman, is basically a way of browsing the site IRL.
“I’ve been thinking about ways to showcase artwork in a different way,” said Blackman, who first realized the “untapped” potential of a beach canvas. “We care so much about our bathing suits and the bag we bring to the beach, but no one thinks about their towel.”
With a limited run of 50 towels made from each design, the proceeds (over and above production costs) will all be going to Arts in Parts, a non-profit “creative learning organization” that provides art workshops for kids in the Rockaways.
“There is something special about taking the ‘ordinary’ and making it spectacular,” said Timothy Goodman (the dude from 40 Days of Dating), on his passion for reinvigorating objects through design. “As kids we would turn anything into art, everything was canvas, everything had a voice. Also, beach towels are generally mundane, so I’m happy to see some cool ones for a change.”
So is this the start of a new trend? “I don’t want to sound like a dick,” says Blackman, “but I can assure you in the next year you’re going to see a lot of artists putting designs on towels. I mean, it’s like enamel pins man, those things are everywhere.”