Celebrating its twentieth year, Aero is a fixture in New York City’s design community. It remains one of the few original home stores in the downtown Soho neighborhood, an ambassador of the area’s loft and gallery legacy.
From Aero’s beginnings, the store has always been the design studio’s twin, co-existing under the same roof. Here Thomas O’Brien continually puts forth his latest finds and ideas in a revolving, imagined interior. As customers discover the store, many
have become clients of the studio for residential commissions.
The store houses O’Brien’s hand-picked, ever-changing selection of refurbished vintage modern furniture and lighting, antiques, fine art, tableware, accessories, and collectibles. In addition, Aero stocks the most complete offering of Thomas O’Brien brand home furnishings, both ready-made and made to order. It is the only place to find O’Brien’s custom Aero-label goods, from handcrafted, luxury upholstery and lighting to trays, bedding, and favorites like the perennially popular Aero leather tote bags.
Since moving in 2004 to larger headquarters on Broome Street, Aero’s classic cast-iron loft has become a destination for a new generation of shoppers from around the city and the world.
The space offers an antidote to the current domain
of digital shopping, with gracious, knowledgeable
staff on hand for design consultation and gift
registry services, the always intriguing décor,
and O’Brien’s frequent presence as he brings
clients through the store.
It was another time in New York, with the galleries and antique shops scattered through Soho. The factories still in the neighborhood, the artist lofts. The very beginning of the generation of home stores. Our first pictures, taken just moments before our opening party.
Our new street level shop connects to the upstairs gallery. We add more dinnerware, accessories, baskets, whimsies, and collected home goods, old and new. The moment the true store spirit comes together with the design world of Aero.
As the shop evolves, we begin to make our own hand-crafted leather bags, special trays, and lamps. Lighting, especially, is a constant interest that turns into an ever-growing product category moving forward.
In the spirit of vintage metalwork, we move from lighting to elegant faucets. The romance of the Machine Age inspires our new retro- modern bath fittings collection for Waterworks. Aero and Aero Retro become instant classics.
Thomas presents an influential bathroom
and sitting room suite, featuring the new Aero
plumbing and other custom bath furniture.
More Aero-made furnishings fill the interior,
introducing the studio’s broad
product design vision.
With years of refurbished vintage furniture,
eclectic antiques, and custom pieces for
interior clients, Aero’s repertory becomes
the inspiration for a new, complete American
furniture collection. The line innovates by
combining city styles with country, classical
with modern, formal with easy and casual.
The millennial decade is a time of increasingly
refined loft design. We begin to collect
important 20th century modern antiques
and art: a new level of curating to match
the interest in a more cultivated,
historically modern home.
The work of the studio turns to classical architectural detail in the industrial loft setting. This raw duplex loft is transformed into an elegant apartment-style home, with a chic, European lineage of furnishings and design.
We host a very downtown art opening to
celebrate our first ten years. The upstairs
gallery in its prime, welcoming friends from
the old and new Soho. Aero continues to
exhibit artists, do special custom framing,
and sell both fine and found art regularly through all the years to come.
We create our first fabric collection,
based on the vintage and apparel textiles
at Aero. Textile design is a favorite discipline,
interpreting both modern and traditional
patterns in many types of prints
and lavish weaves.
Introduced via our furniture partners, Thomas
is invited to create a full home collection of
bedding, bath textiles, and tableware for
Marshall Field’s. The collection launches
with an Aero boutique at the famous State
Street flagship store in Chicago. A most
special collaboration with a venerable
This definitive design partnership begins
with an Aero-inspired, signature grouping
of vintage modern lighting. Biannual new
introductions of modern and traditional
lights develop into a very extensive
collection that is ever-present in the
work of the studio and store.
As our product studio expands, we outgrow
our original work space. Aero moves to larger
headquarters in the new Broome and Crosby
Street corridor of antique shops and
boutiques, on the outskirts of Soho. The
store and the studio are reimagined in a
classic cast-iron loft on two floors, where
we still operate today.
Following the prize for furniture in 2002 with
his collection for Hickory Chair, Thomas is
named Designer of the Year in Elle Deco’s
prestigious International Design Awards.
The editors of the 25 international Elle Deco
magazines select the best designer furni-
shings, and one top designer from each
country, every year. An absolute honor.
The parent company of Marshall Field’s, Target
taps Thomas as the classic modern design
brand for its home division. The launch is
the largest in-store collection by a partnering
designer ever, with furniture, lighting, access-
ories, bedding, bathware, and a hugely
popular line of bath towels.
Thomas becomes the first brand designer to create a carpet collection for this well-known purveyor. The unusual styles come from varied textiles and classical architectural patternwork, all in luxurious silk and wool weaves.
The store and studio celebrate another
milestone. We look back to look forward,
with a first image of Aero’s opening night
remembered on the party invitation.
The partnership with this legacy American brand extends beyond traditional metalsmithing to include fine and casual dinnerware, flatware, crystal, and home accessories. The collaboration deepens with Thomas’s design direction for the company’s exclusive Heritage collection of timeless pewter homeware.
Lamps remain the quintessential Aero objects as we renew classic designs in limited editions. Each one is hand-made in New York City of luxurious materials—individual leathers, wood, glass, and other fine coverings—all with intricate tooling and detailing.
We begin to make our own boutique bedding
in elegant woven and embroidered fabrics,
all from antique mills in France and Italy.
Collections are seasonal, limited, and
loosely coordinated; only to be found
at the Aero store.
Thomas’s first book is an in-depth study of seven homes, including his own. Each residence is considered as a one point on the spectrum of what makes a design American and modern. Seen together, Thomas finds more in common than divided between the historical, traditional, and modern styles that make up his work.
Two decades. The Aero of now.
The second book. A visual history of the store and studio over twenty years. Thomas shares personal stories on the intersections of art, design, and the lasting creative friendships that have influenced his career and life in
New York City.
At over 125 pieces, this collection includes many types of furniture, from upholstery to handcrafted wood and metalwork, for every room of the home, and in time, the garden. In style it is hopefully just as ambitious and interesting. Diverse influences are refined and recombined through the ways that Thomas thinks about vintage and modern living.
The Aero Store & Studios moves from its SoHo beginnings to the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue, a vertical design neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan.
Thomas O'Brien and husband Dan Fink launch Copper Beech, a pop-up home emporium and prepared food store in Bellport, Long Island, complete with original artwork by Dan's grandmother Hilde. A full renovation is to follow, eventually leading toward year-round operation.