North Front Gallery Is a Gem for Furniture Lovers in Kingston

Fashion-industry veteran Markus Scheffler pursues a new passion: Designing and selling heirloom-quality furniture in Kingston.

In 2019, Markus Scheffler was exploring North Front Street in Kingston when a vacant storefront caught his eye. Scheffler, a Manhattan resident at the time, had been visiting the artsy city from his weekend home near Phoenicia. “There was this beautiful window set-up and a sign for rent,” he says of the space. “I called to see how much it was without any business plan or strategy, really. Three months later, my store was open.”

So it was that Scheffler founded North Front Gallery, the furniture boutique the German-born entrepreneur has been running solo for nearly five years. When he launched the gallery, the now-permanent Hudson Valley resident had recently left his post as the visual merchandising director at Givenchy, one of several luxury brands he’d worked for throughout his decades-long fashion career. Scheffler credits his time at the French label with sparking his interest in furnishings. “We started to add very collectible vintage [pieces] in our flagship stores worldwide, so I was constantly researching these special chairs, sofas, and tables. I really became kind of an expert,” he explains. “I thought ‘this is much more interesting than fashion.’”

Owner Markus Scheffler
Owner Markus Scheffler

When Givenchy asked him to relocate to Paris, Scheffler declined, choosing to remain in the U.S. and consider new career options instead. By then, furniture had become “a passion of mine,” he says. “I always thought one day it would be so amazing if I could open a gallery. And then it just happened.”

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The George Nakashima Minguren II dining table and Björn Markus Scheffler chair C-01
The George Nakashima Minguren II dining table and Björn Markus Scheffler chair C-01

Inside the gallery, where Scheffler offers a selection of design-forward new and midcentury pieces from a range of makers, the vibe is more akin to a well-appointed home than to a high-end store. (In fact, Scheffler describes its roomy interior, where he also sells artwork, as an extension of his living space—complete with the presence of his two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Milner and Monti, to whom he lovingly refers as his “assistants.”) Thoughtfully arranged on the gallery’s hardwood floors, vinyl-and-teak Niels Koefoed chairs from the 1960s, for instance, mingle with a live-edge Marcelo Villegas table, crafted from cedar and bamboo. Dark-hued works by local painter Shelley McClure Tran, meanwhile, grace the gallery’s white walls. The effect is striking but minimalist, an aesthetic Scheffler chalks up to his years with fashion houses like Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. “If you look around, there is actually not that much color [in the pieces]. There are a lot of earth tones—colors you find in nature,” he says. “It’s a little more muted.”

The exterior of the gallery at 52 North Front Street
The exterior of the gallery at 52 North Front Street

Inside the gallery, where Scheffler offers a selection of new and midcentury pieces, the vibe is more akin to a well-appointed home than to a store.

The same can be said for the furniture Scheffler personally designs, which is sold alongside the gallery’s other collectible items. One example? The sculptural, solid-walnut C-01 chair, which—like Scheffler’s other designs—is handmade by a craftsperson in Kingston. “I’m not a trained designer. I just [create] what I think I would like to have in my home,” says Scheffler with a laugh. “I’m glad if it resonates with somebody else.”

As it turns out, he has indeed found an audience for his wares. Scheffler says the goods he sells in the gallery have won favor with customers near and far. He recently learned that one of the chairs he dreamed up, for instance, was purchased for use in a residential project in Japan. That client, Scheffler adds, found him through Instagram (@northfrontgallery)—a platform that, in addition to helping drum up sales, has proven quite useful in sourcing new pieces for the store.

A Pierre Jeanneret writing chair.
A Pierre Jeanneret writing chair at North Front Gallery

Scheffler is, after all, very particular about what he carries in the gallery. It’s this careful curation that he thinks separates his store from others like it. “You could probably find similar chairs for maybe half the price or less [somewhere else], but there’s a certain [level of] design I like to show in here,” he says. “They are more collectible than something that is basically just vintage.”

Going forward, Scheffler hopes to continue bringing these special finds to his customers and is especially eager to design more pieces of his own. For now, though, the gallery owner is just happy to be doing something he loves. “I’m so grateful for this place,” he says. “I really appreciate being here.”

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