i have been an auto fan since it opened in 1999, just when pastis became a sensation (and when it wasn’t a tourist destination) and really at the time that the meatpacking district had started to transform but was still really interesting and quirky (and florent was still alive). although i feel that much of the area has just become way too high end, a mini 5th avenue and soho put together, i will always love those cobblestone streets and the great new public amenity that is the highline, and of course auto.
auto describes itself as a mini department store with little bits of everything all infused with a great sense of design. auto has something for everyone, they usually are right on the current design trend (if not ahead of the curve), and though some of their goods are quite pricey there is a range and they have decent sales. i have been obsessed with their missoni towels (really the absolutely perfect gift for my very hard to buy for mum), their john robshaw bedding and pillows, plover organic bedding and soof rilli quilts from pakistan. auto often has some excellent toys for kids that you would be very happy to have in your home like the wood animals pictured below by david weeks studio. auto is often a good place to shop for men too. this fall they had in stock a few clocks by areaware, some very cool pens, little wallet holders and a few good design books.
auto carries a well curated but small selection of clothing accessories. they currently have some great scarves by judy ross and recently had some really cute tracy watts wool caps (not sure if they’re still available). auto has an excellent selection of jewelry at all price points. some of my current favorites include these number pendants from house of leifer and these very affordable charm bracelets from apsaras (might be moving up very high on the list for the upcoming birthday!).
for more of a sense of the aesthetic of the store and its owners, who live above the shop, see this new york times video(ooh, i would love all those furnishings, well except for maybe the billy shelves — i love ikea but not enough for any more of it). auto has an excellent, always updated website and frequent specials so if you can’t go visit you can certainly take a look online. auto, 805 washington street near gansevoort street, manhattan, new york, 212.229.2292.
note: just found out that auto closed in january 2010. very sad news.