Inside Designer Michael DePerno's Charming New Preston Shop
What brought you back to the East Coast after living and working in Northern California? I wanted to return to my earlier roots, and I found a great house that clinched the deal. I was accustomed to living near San Francisco but not in the thick of it. This became my norm, and I wanted to replicate this on the East Coast. Selecting Litchfield County was a deliberate choice after looking high and low within a two-hour radius around New York City. I felt an instant connection to Litchfield County. My home is in Washington, and the shop is in New Preston.
Plain Goods is your third venture. How is it different from and/or similar to your other shops, Hope & Wilder in SoHo and Ren in Los Angeles? I’m doing this one with my partner Andrew Fry, who brings experience from the world of fashion. We’ve mixed new product in with the vintage and antiques, so the result is more layered. There are parts of all of the previous shops in Plain Goods.
How will it stand apart from New Preston’s great shops? We’ve been told that our place has an old mercantile/general store feel because of the range of dry goods we carry. The mix is what makes it stand apart from the other shops in the village.
What elements go into a successful business? I’ve always followed the same formula: work with things you love. Andrew and I share a very similar aesthetic sensibility, which makes this approach very easy.
You carry many categories of goods—fashion, beauty, home. What connects them? The common thread is well-made, simple, unadorned design, typically with a natural palette.
How important is the consumer experience? A well-designed room or shop should always beckon you. Our things have a tactile component—the softness of cashmere, for example, or the patina of leather. Whether our buyer is looking for that perfect shirt, a gift or that perfect piece of furniture, we’ve curated a selection that is sure to satisfy.
What are differences in consumer tastes on the two coasts? I’ve always found that the East Coast consumer has a deeper appreciation of classic, well-made things. Design is so subjective. Let’s just say that our aesthetic feels right at home here.
Have you sourced any products from the West Coast? We are working with our friend Sam Hamilton from March in San Francisco. Sam is incredibly talented and has a wonderful line of kitchen/pantry goods.
What inspires you? Beauty inspires me. I’m a detail man. I really appreciate well-made things—old or new. Andrew and I gravitate toward classic design that’s easy and unpretentious. We really appreciate quality fabrics and are excited to introduce clothing into the mix.
A version of this article appeared in the January 2016 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Good Times.