The newest shop/gallery on the Island is far more than a retail space. Island Copper, located on State Road across from Cronig’s Market in Vineyard Haven, is designed to be a gathering spot as well as a showcase for artists and artisans from the Island and beyond. The building that once housed Craig’s Bike Shop has been transformed into a beautiful, rustic space with handmade furniture and many interesting copper accents. It’s a strikingly designed space, yet it maintains a very low-key and inviting atmosphere. Visitors are offered complimentary beverages, and there’s a comfortable patio out front, welcoming guests to sit and relax.
The artwork and merchandise are tastefully displayed so as not to overwhelm the space, and the items on offer all benefit from a simplicity of design. “We’re a little more home goods in our selection,” says Island Copper partner designer Noava Knight. “I think it’s accessible to everyone when it’s simple. I think of the store as pretty unisex. Men can come in here and find something they can buy.”
The display includes bags, pottery, cutting boards, beach blankets, and other practical items, along with paintings by Dan VanLandingham. There is also a sampling of handmade crafts from Uruguay, home of the other half of the Island Copper team, Daniel Vignolo. Among these are cowhide pillows, sheepskin products, leather bags, jewelry, and ornate mate sets and knives. “Uruguay has a mix of Spanish and Italian,” says Mr. Vignolo, explaining the range of designs offered. “The mate comes from the Indian part of our culture.” In Uruguay the caffeine-rich beverage, made by steeping yerba mate leaves, is defined by law as the “national infusion.”
Of course, it’s the copper that really stands out. Mr. Vignolo, who has been doing architectural copper work for many years, has now started showing some of his artwork and home furnishings. One wall in the gallery features a large American flag made from copper. Displayed around the space are zinc- and copper-top tables with bases constructed by local carpenters, planters, and a unique bar featuring a copper basin mounted on a repurposed ladder. Gallery installations include a copper sink in the lovely rustic bathroom (worth a visit), track lighting made from recycled gutters, and a beautiful distressed copper backsplash in shades of green that is a work of art on its own.
“Copper is an amazing material,” says Mr. Vignolo. “It has been used for 10,000 years. It was one of the first metals that people started using for jewelry.” Holding up a copper travel water bottle that the store stocks, Ms. Knight explains some of the health benefits. “Copper is antimicrobial. It purifies the water and adds some trace minerals. It’s an Ayurvedic medicine practice to leave water in copper overnight to purify it.”
The new venture is a collaboration between Ms. Knight and Mr. Vignolo. The two, who have known each other for many years, got together when Ms. Knight was seeking a studio to show her line of sustainably produced bags and Mr. Vignolo was interested in displaying some of the decorative and household pieces that he had begun creating as a side project to his installation work.
Ms. Knight’s line of bags — Human Imperfection — are not only attractive and sturdy, but also benefit from the designer’s commitment to creating a socially conscious product. The backpacks, totes, duffle bags, crossbodies, clutches, and more are all made in the U.S. by a small family manufacturing business, from materials that are as sustainable as possible. The latest addition to the Human Imperfection line is a large organic cotton convertible beach bag/backpack.
Ms. Knight’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint extends to the other products in the gallery/shop’s inventory. She met many of the artisans represented by the store during time spent at craft fairs in Chicago, D.C., upstate New York, Central Massachusetts, and Boston. “I wanted to bring some of these products to the Vineyard and start new conversations,” she says, adding, “It’s great to feel a connection to all of the products in the store.”
Every two weeks during the summer, the gallery will host a pop-up show featuring one or two different artists and artisans. Among the designers spotlighted so far are Roy Swim (bathing suits) and Rooey Knots (unique headbands made from repurposed neckties). Pop-up openings have incorporated fun activities like henna applications by Maple Mehndi, tastings from Not Your Sugar Mamas and the Larder, and massages by Abigail Gallant.
Starting on July 7, with an opening on Friday from 6 to 9 pm, Island Copper will feature the mixed-media artwork of Ms. Knight’s sister, Dawn Breeze. Future pop-ups will be devoted to crafts from Austin Designs and new clothing lines from Bananas boutique.
Island Copper keeps evening hours (open from 2 to 8 pm) in order, in part, to provide a community space. The co-owners encourage people to drop in for socializing as well as shopping. A recent post on the business’s Facebook page offered an interesting invitation. “Embrace the rain by enjoying the indoors. Come play chess at the shop today.” People can often be found relaxing on the patio, chatting, and perhaps, enjoying a cup of mate. Behind the shop is a beautiful patio complete with a traditional Uruguayan chimneyed grill and a canopy made from a sail. The patio will be the scene of occasional pop-up dinners hosted by Island chefs.
“I feel like my presence in the community has always been about bringing people together and supporting the artists on the Vineyard,” says Ms. Knight.
Island Copper is open Monday-Thursday, 2 to 8 pm; Friday-Saturday, 2 to 10 pm, and from 2 to 6 pm on Sunday. Visit mvislandcopper.com for more information.