Midcentury Modern on Route 27

John Birch’s decision to have an exhibit of work by Hans Wegner and Johannes Hansen at his store Wyeth in Sagaponack inspired him to open a second branch at the old Plitt Ford dealership in Wainscott. Catherine Tandy Photos

    Marking its third season in an industrial-chic space on Route 27 in Sagaponack, the antiques store Wyeth, which specializes in the sleek, stark offerings of midcentury modern furniture, has undergone a transformation for its summer exhibit, “Teak & Oak: The Collaboration of Hans Wegner and Johannes Hansen,” which will run through Sept. 30. Additionally, its owner, John Birch, has opened a new store in Wainscott.

    Mr. Birch, who has created eye-catching retail environments for fashion powerhouses such as Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani, is showcasing the clean lines and modern vision of two Danish artists: Mr. Wegner, a designer, and Mr. Hansen, one of Copenhagen’s finest cabinetrymakers, in the Sagaponack store.
    To accommodate the exhibit, which represents 10 years of meticulous collecting, Mr. Birch had to move all his current Wyeth pieces elsewhere, hence the new Wainscott space. “We had never had an exhibition before, but we realized if we didn’t do it now, it would never happen, especially if we sold another big piece,” he said.
    Mr. Wegner and Mr. Hansen began working together in the early 1940s, drawing from a wide range of influences, from the honest simplicity of Shaker design to the sharp serpentine lines of classical Chinese furniture. The resulting Modernist pieces in the collaborative collection lean heavily on the coupling of teak and oak, which was rarely seen before the men formed their partnership, Mr. Birch said.
    “This collection of furniture will never exist again,” he said. “It was an incredible task. Even within a museum, I don’t know where they would get all these things.”
    Although he has a store in Manhattan’s West Village and a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Brooklyn, Mr. Birch said he decided to empty the warehouse and show more furniture on the East End, so as not to lose some of his best designer clients who spend time here in the summer.
    The sprawling new Wainscott store, located in a former car dealership on Route 27, is a decidedly raw space, but all Mr. Birch sees is potential. Having transformed the Sagaponack Wyeth from a “fairly dilapidated and primitive” state into a loft-like showroom of glass walls, raw beams, and a ceiling striped with skylights, he is confident of his aesthetic alchemy at the new 10,000-square-foot space.
    “While most of my job is creating retail environments where things are more conceptual than physical, I’ve learned a lot of skills in building and designing spaces,” Mr. Birch said. “I knew I could just make a business of it because I look at a raw space and see something, and say,  ‘We can make it beautiful.’ ”
    The Wainscott space, which hung its sign on its powder-blue facade just two weeks ago, will not undergo an intense makeover, however. Mr. Birch said the store would be temporary, designed to last a year or so to accommodate his overflowing inventory. It may be fleeting, but “it was a huge break to find it available,”he said, and the transformation has just begun, starting with basic improvements such as paint, as well as the removal of a few doors, walls, and some old wall-to-wall carpeting.
    The rooms are slowly being carved out into varying vignettes; living rooms and bedrooms, each boasting eclectic and eccentric offerings, including an asymmetrical leather armchair, layered metal wall hangings, a vintage bowling ball set, and a chaise longue upholstered in plaid. The end result is yet to be seen.