When designer Dan Mazzarini was a kid, he liked to play store.
It’s been a long time since retail was a game for Mazzarini, creative director and principal for BHDM Design, a residential, hospitality and commercial design firm with headquarters in New York and West Coast offices in San Francisco. Mazzarini’s work has helped define well-known brands including Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Waterworks and Movado.
His latest project — Archive by Dan Mazzarini — is more personal and is tied to that childhood fantasy of being a shop owner, but in a 2023 sort of way. Archive is a shoppable online source for interior design and lifestyle inspiration that launched in January. It’s part retail site, part trend forecast, part how-to guide. Mazzarini likes to call it a “blogazine.”
“We want Archive to be a resource. We want to be looked at as a designer authority. I like to think people may come to the site to purchase — hopefully they will — and then they’ll stay to learn something, too. Maybe they’re going on a trip to Paris and they don’t know anything about the flea market there and we can be a guide to that. And when they find some great piece of artwork but don’t know what to do with it, they can come to our site and learn how to frame it.”
The site has the feel of a shelter magazine, with plans to roll out major new articles and features monthly. “Ultimately, our hope is that our archives will be something visitors can go back to again and again.” Archive’s tone is authoritative, but accessible and fun — like Mazzarini himself.
Key sections include:
- House tours that give visitors a peek inside BHDM projects and Mazzarini’s own homes. The tours include copious links to other features on the Archives site where visitors can find more information about the looks and how to create them in their own homes. “This is set up so that each month will feature a house tour and within each house tour are hot spots that bring you to (product) roundups and trends,” Mazzarini says.
- Product roundups: Current roundups include “The Layered Look: The Coziest Gray Blankets to Throw on Your Sofa,” “Can You Handle This” (a look at large-scale baskets) and “Light and Lovely” (a collection of airy, woven pendants). Each features several examples with shopping links to affiliated retailers.
- Shopping by category: Visitors can browse and buy furniture (by room), tabletop (from barware to serveware), accessories (from artwork to lighting to throws) and even books. There’s also a “Found & Vintage” section.
- Apparel: Although focused on home furnishings, the site includes apparel, which, Mazzarini says, makes sense given his past work with fashion brands like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren. “There’s this notion that your interiors kind of look the way you dress. That’s part of my reality. So, having clothing and accessory items on the site makes sense, right? Archive isn’t just about furniture or pillows. It’s lifestyle driven.”
- A trends section explains the driving forces behind a key trend that shows the varied ways shoppers can incorporate that trend into their homes.
Mazzarini points to the “Leatha Weatha” trend as a good example of the site’s direction. In a short article, Mazzarini writes about what he loves about leather (“No matter the season, it seems it’s always time for leatha weatha — the perfect material to layer onto your style.”) Next up in the section: an array of representative products, mostly home furnishings, but also the unexpected (like a leather Nomad case for AirPods) — and all super stylish.
“We’re serious about design, but we like to have fun,” Mazzarini says. “We’re trying to show things that appeal to my sensibility and to find things that are really special, that make people say, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that existed.’ We’ve also done ‘Connecting the Dots’ about polka dots. But we took a different approach: We wanted to educate people, give them a history of polka dots — where they came from and how to use them. Some people might look at a polka dot pattern and think, ‘Wow! That’s a lot!’ But our approach is, ‘Maybe dip a toe in’ and encourage people to try.”
Coming soon will be travel-related features from Long Island, Hawaii, Chicago and other locales, as well as more how-to features.
Site visitors can become an Archive member and save favorites from the site, further curating pieces and ideas to their own tastes.
‘The best products out there for every space’
Products are for sale from a wide variety of retailers, among them 1st Dibs, CB2, Target, Neiman Marcus, Amazon, Saks Fifth Avenue, Anthropologie, Etsy, Chairish, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Horchow and Z Gallerie. All told, products are sourced from more than 1,500 retailers, producers and artisans. Prices on the site are broad, too, from $9 to $9,000. “Born in Chicago and raised in Pittsburgh, I’m very Midwestern-minded when it comes to value and believe that the most expensive thing does not necessarily equate to the best thing. This is why we aim to educate and encourage consumers about the best products out there for every space,” he says.)
The affiliate selling model is perfect for Archive, Mazzarini says. “What we’re good at for our clients is finding the right thing, buying one or two, making sure it’s perfect and getting it into their space,” he explains. “It would be challenging for us, at least in the beginning, to deal with inventory. We’d love to grow and see where it takes us, but this model feels very authentic to who we are.”
For similar reasons, Mazzarini isn’t ready to commit to opening brick-and-mortar locations, though, if Archive is successful, he says he might consider it. He and his team are planning to do a pop-up on Long Island (he’s got a house on the North Fork) this summer.
“It’s Hamptons and Connecticut adjacent, and I think it would be fun and it’d be great exposure, so that’s what we’re working toward,” he says. “… It would be a mix of things available on Archive but also some things from our inventory of French flea market finds, maybe bespoke tables that we would design and sell. So, Archive pop-ups could be a mash-up of to-the-trade and to the public.”
That mention of Mazzarini-designed tables hints at something else the designer is eager to do and something he hopes Archive might lead him to doing next: product design.
“We’re excited to get into product as soon as possible,” he says. “I’ve designed (custom) furniture for stores and brands and clients for 20 years. I’m really excited for the potential of Archive to act as a catalyst for the industry to see what we can do and our point of view and then (lead to) more actual product designed by me and sold on Archive.”
‘There is a personal style. … And it’s fun’
Archive is branded as a Dan Mazzarini business. His name is part of the logo and he’s the “I” in first-person articles posted on the site, but beyond an introductory photo, images of the designer aren’t splashed throughout its pages. That’s in part because Mazzarini sees Archive very much as a team project and outgrowth of his work at BHDM.
“Yes, my name is on it and yes, I’m the face of the business, but we have a team and I wanted to make sure they feel involved and invested in the company, as well. … In the other arm of our business — BHDM — I’m involved in every part of the process of all our projects, but it’s about giving credit to the rest of the team that’s working hard.” That team includes Sarah Major, BHDM’s director of residential design; Stephanie Metzger, BHDM’s director of concept and experience; and Sara Kerr, the firm’s office administrator. “We have a shorthand together,” Mazzarini says. “… So, we’re keeping it as much like a family as we can.”
The idea for Archive has been in the works for years: The team came up with the name about five years ago. It works on several levels: as a nod to magazines and their back issues, as well as to the idea that Mazzarini and his team are dipping back into past BHDM projects — many never seen by the public — to share them in a new way with a broader audience.
The intense work of the Archive launch started last fall. The most time-consuming part was uploading the content, something that surprised Mazzarini.
“At this stage of my life, I’m not as technologically savvy as some, but the technology part has been a fun challenge, to learn about a new field,” he says. “That’s made me expand in a really fun way.”
“That was the business challenge of it,” he continues. “The personal challenge was stepping away from the idea that we design for other brands and other people and really put a bright line around my personal style. But I realized very quickly looking back over our projects, there’s a consistency, a cadence to the things I like. It’s validating to look back and find that after 20 years of designing for other people, there is a personal style. It’s there. And it’s fun.”