"When You Interrupt Us, You Have to Deal With Us": Murray Moss Invites You to Intrude at His Midtown Lab

Cathy McClure's Ferris Wheel and Carousel in "Midway" at the Moss Bureau
(Photo © Janelle Zara)

NEW YORK — Three months after closing SoHo’s venerated design destination Moss, founders Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell have settled into their latest business, the Moss Bureau consulting agency, in its new home in the Garment District. To see its inaugural exhibition, Cathy McClure’s “Midway,” all you need to do is take the elevator to the 10th floor, where it opens directly into the new office. The exhibit itself is quite sinister; robotic elephants spin on a zoetropic metal carousel revolving in the dark. A sign in the elevator warns of flashing strobes, but the most off-putting thing happens just before you step out: you realize you’re walking into someone’s actual office, where employees sit at their desks and work on their computers. The discomfort immediately settles in, as if you’ve intruded in a place you don’t belong.

The thing is, you actually are intruding, which is exactly how Murray Moss intended it; it’s all part of his ideal business model, carried out more theatrically here than was ever possible in the showroom he left behind in March. “When you interrupt us, you have to deal with us,” Moss told ARTINFO. “What I tried to do with Moss before, by having all the ‘Do Not Touch’ signs and things behind glass, was prevent you from accessing it without a human, without one of our people. I never meant for people not to touch. I meant for people to need to ask. You sell things when you are actually engaged with the person.”

Sales aside, the set-up of their new agency is more like a comical lab experiment in privacy. There may be a Richard Woods door hanging in the middle of the room, but there’s little separating you from the workers who could be, hypothetically, on the phone with customs at JFK trying to track down the Hermès-wearing taxidermy that was somehow lost in transit. “There’s this sense that you’re backstage, that you’re inside the mechanism of the company,” Moss added. “It’s as theatrical as Hollister and Abercrombie. I like the surreal quality to it.”

To see images of Cathy McClure’s “Midway,” their inaugural exhibition, and to take a tour of the office, click the slide show