Take a walk down any Brooklyn street, and artists, fashion designers and other creatives are everywhere. But many find themselves having to schlep across the river into SoHo, TriBeCa or other trendy Manhattan neighborhoods to showcase their work. No one understands this better than Christophe Roberts. The Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based artist has lived that experience for over a decade.
His passions and interests were always on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, leaving him to wonder why the options were so limited in his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and embarked on a five-year journey developing the concept for SEED Brklyn, a space to nurture the creativity that Brooklyn has always been known for.
“There’s a world that exists here that I felt was missing an experience like SEED,” he said. “And I’m from the school where you build what you don’t have.”
Roberts and his team literally built SEED from the ground up. And he says he approached the design and construction like an art project. Everything about the space, which officially opens on October 21, is intentional and a treat for all of your senses.
“Post-COVID, any space you go into has to be multi-layered. You can’t just have a rack of clothes,” he said. “You need a narrative. You need to have an experience.” And as a multi-disciplinary artist, building experiences people can interact with is one of the things Roberts does best.
From the moment you walk into SEED’s Greenhouse Cafe, you’re transported to an artist’s paradise that includes coffee from La Colombe, plants for sale, vinyl collectibles and more.
And once you’re caffeinated, you move on to The Garden, a two-level immersive retail space which is carefully curated with books about art and culture along with apparel and accessories from a mix of well-known and promising designers, including Martine Rose and Jason Markk. There’s also a Japanese-inspired sneaker laundry that lets you get your kicks cleaned while you wait.
From there, you move on to The Oasis, an event space and NFT gallery that features technology that helps artists and art lovers to interact with the digital space. “I didn’t think that the digital space was necessarily approachable, especially when it came to the blockchain, NFTs and stuff like that,” Roberts said. “I created a sculpture called the seed pod, which is a display system with digital touch screens, nooks and shelves in each wall that really makes sense for NFTs.”
Something that sets The Oasis apart from other NFT galleries is the partnership with Infinite Objects, a company that makes frames for digital prints. “When you mint an NFT, you get a physical item even if the artist doesn’t have merchandise. So you always walk away with something,” he said.
Roberts’ vision for SEED includes giving back to the Bed-Stuy community, with general classes on entrepreneurism, freelancing, and more. “I want to bring in lawyers to talk about LLCs for protecting creative assets,” he said.
If you can’t make it to Bed-Stuy to visit SEED Brklyn, you can still connect with the space on their website, where a lot of fashion and collectibles are for sale. “We’re building a global brand, so we put a lot of energy into the e-commerce site,” he said. To have a fair fight, we have to be just as resilient on the web as we are in person.”
As Roberts prepares to share SEED with Bed-Stuy and the rest of the world, he hopes to inspire other artists to create. “Seed is inspired by my journey, the landscape around me and the needs of it,” he said.