Posts tagged with "Retail":

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New Practice breathes new life into New York's hospitality scene

One part cafe, the other some kind of shop or service—hybrid cafe-shops have been popping up right and left in New York City. The typologies are exhaustive: a barbershop-cum-cafe; a nail salon-cum-cafe; a record store-cum-cafe; and so on. Though, there are exceptions to the cliche. One of them is the New Practice Studio-designed tea room and accessories store, Sage Collective. As the story goes, founding partner of the Shanghai and New York-based firm, Neo Zhong, was approached by NYU graduate Feng Ye to design her first business venture: a tripartite retail-teahouse-bar space. In approximately 1,600 square feet (a modest size for a SoHo storefront), New Practice Studio devised a transformative enclave. Customers enter through a retail space with tea paraphernalia sourced from China. At the heart of the operation—the middle section—lies a cafe by day and bar by night. The expanse culminates in the rear with a semi-private tearoom.  This treatment of spaces slowly expanding into each other was inspired by traditional Chinese gardens. Traditionally, the layout of these classics landscapes were arranged so that visitors could not see the entirety at once. Instead, small vignettes were staged to be discovered as one wanders, one sees a series of intimate views.  “There are different depths of space," explained Zhong. "Your eyes are drawn to different focal points.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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World's largest Starbucks opens on downtown Chicago's Magnificent Mile

Nothing screams excess like a five-story Starbucks. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it’s poorly designed. Today marks the grand opening of the Seattle-based coffee giant's largest flagship store in the world. Located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the 35,000-square-foot facility fills every inch of a former Crate & Barrel store originally built in 1990.  Designed by an in-house team with added help from Perkins & Will, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago takes cues from the original architecture of the largely-all-glass-and-stone department store. It boasts plenty of natural light within the five-story interior thanks to the building’s existing rotunda and floor-to-ceiling windows. The characteristic materials of a Starbucks project are all there too: Jet black metal cladding cover the walls, both light and dark wooden accents populate the bars and ceilings, while the classic bronze finish found in other Reserve projects clad the railings and machinery. One new touch that defines the Chicago flagship is the ample use of soft green throughout the space, especially notable on the perforated wood panels that line the ceiling. At the center of the space, spanning all five floors, is a towering coffee bean cask made of eight cylindrical chambers. It stretches 56 feet-tall from the ground-floor upward and is surrounded by a spiraling escalator that guests can take to the second floor. From the very top, to see conveyors drop roasted coffee beans in the cask to cool. It’s a curvy interior and it deftly matches Crate & Barrel’s curvy aesthetic. The exterior of the building has been virtually untouched and the Starbucks stamp is minimal. Despite the intervention, the structure still looks like it belongs in downtown Chicago. Among the five other Reserve projects built around the world since 2014, this retrofit has already received early praise for its adherence to the integrity of the city and space in which it exists. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin loved the shop upon touring it and described the architectural appeal of the new "cathedral of coffee" in his review this week:  “It’s visually theatrical, crisply designed and carefully tailored to its host city even though it springs from a well-worn corporate template,” wrote Kamin. “The flagship reminds us that modern architecture celebrates the process of making things, unlike beaux-arts buildings that hide such things behind pretty facades.”  That must be the general allure of the Starbucks Reserve brand: The company has broken out these shops not as "everyday" places to grab a coffee but more as tourist-oriented theme parks or experience centers complete with merchandise and $15-to-$20 coffees But this will also be the company's last chance to impress this way. Starbucks has announced the Chicago space will be the final Reserve flagship in its portfolio. 
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Cactus develops a demystified look for skincare brand Ever/body

Brooklyn and Rio-based Cactus has gained a reputation for developing interiors that strategically blend its expertise in architecture and software engineering. Whether developing a dramatic scheme for an interactive cycle-gym or a bold concept for immersive pop-up exhibition Color Factory, the firm imbues each project with a sense of experiential enhancement. For its latest project, the outfitting of skincare brand Ever/body's first New York "studio" locale, Cactus translated this same meticulous attention to detail to create a scheme that helps embolden the company's image. Amidst the saturated dermatological market, in which conflicting advice often confuses consumers, Ever/body seeks to destigmatize high-performance beauty. Simplifying the cause and effect of skin-born ailments and desired results, the young brand offers clear solutions. This no-nonsense approach to product and service development informed Cactus's intervention and in turn, informed the brand's visual identity. The firm conceived a design that injects modernity into a relaxing haven; soothing clients as if they were entering a spa or traditional Japanese Onsen. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Activewear brand Outdoor Voices flexes its design muscles in its latest stores

Not many retail spaces are designed with neighborhood pools, Dolly Parton, and the heyday of the Chicago Bulls in mind. But for Outdoor Voices, an Austin, Texas-based athletic-clothing company, these motifs signal its lighthearted approach to exercise, which is more about #DoingThings—the firm’s hashtag motto for getting endorphins going—than about being first to the finish line. In nine stores around the country, the brand has raised its profile in brick and mortar one blush-colored display platform at a time. Three of Outdoor Voices’ newest stores opened in 2018 in Chicago, Dallas, and Nashville, respectively, with interiors inspired by YMCAs and other vintage cultural touchstones. Material palettes of unfinished plywood, ceramic tile, and rubberized flooring reference the retro rec centers, and custom fixtures are upholstered in Naugahyde, an imitation leather better known for dressing up classic diner banquettes. But these elements transcend nostalgia by being cast in vibrant and delicate hues, cut into crisp geometric shapes, and molded into curved forms that snake like Technicolor river rocks across the floor. Each store also gestures to the city beyond its walls, whether in the John Hughes–inspired color palette of the Chicago store or the Nashville installation that invites customers to play a golden Dance Dance Revolution console in tribute to Elvis’s footwork and baroque tastes. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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A study of L.A. strip malls validates a long-ignored building type

Sunset Market Plaza: Meditations on Strip Malls in Los Angeles Edited by Shaina Goel and Use All Five Published by Use All Five List Price: $35.00 If there was ever an official tribunal to determine what Architecture is and what it is not, the strip mall building type might be placed in the latter category without hesitation. Strip malls, sometimes known as mini-malls, can rarely be traced back to an architect, virtually never receive historic protections, and are rarely perceived as anything more than a response to the modern consumer’s demand for convenience. Even their origins struggle to align with any familiar canons of architecture history: when the 1972 oil crisis caused several gas stations to close throughout Los Angeles, their small corner parcels became ideal sites for the inexpensively-constructed building type, which attracted small business owners due to their relatively cheap rental costs. A new self-published book by the Los Angeles-based design firm Use All Five and edited by Shaina Goel intends to elevate the strip-mall into a building type as worthy of study as any other, complete with a historical overview, fine-art photography, and genuine speculations concerning its future against the prevalence of online shopping. Sunset Market Plaza: Meditations on Strip Malls in Los Angeles begins with a plea for clemency from Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s 1972 classic Learning from Las Vegas: “Learning from the existing landscape is a way of being revolutionary for an architect. Not the obvious way, which is to tear down Paris and begin again, as Le Corbusier suggested in the 1920s. But another, more tolerant way; that is, to question how we look at things.” Just as the two saw the common person’s tastes made legitimate in Sin City, so too does the team behind Sunset Market Plaza elaborate on its subject without a hint of irony or derision. Its spiral-bound spine and numerous fold-outs, in fact, lend it the essence of a field guide. The first half of the book details several of the “best strip malls in L.A.” and nearby San Gabriel Valley, each distinguished by their site plans rendered in dense green stripes and the businesses they contain. Comparing plans, it becomes clear that the strip mall is an infinitely variable thing: some are more than one story, some are irregularly shaped, some have scores of underground parking and many have surprising relationships to the street(s) in front of them. Reading through their descriptions tells us that many of the businesses have not only survived for decades but have also become some of the most popular destinations in the city for a variety of cuisines and specialty services. Sunset Market Plaza also includes a few proposals for the future (or alternate past) of the strip mall, in response to the highly informed marketing present in the world of online shopping. “What would happen,” its editors ask, “if these strip malls were designed with more explicit intentionality?” The results, as they imagine them, are “made with consolidation in mind.” One proposal imagines a strip mall as a one-stop-shop for self-publishing, with independent shops that, when combined, would become a graphic designer’s paradise, while another, titled “Wedding Chapel Plaza” divides the space into several independent businesses catering to the wedding crowd. It becomes up to the reader to determine whether these spaces function better with all of its spaces united under one industry or, more traditionally, as divided among many independently-spirited businesses. An interview between urban planner Jonathan Crisman and urban developer Sam Bachner, the “key figure in the history of strip malls because of his role in co-founding La Mancha Development Company,” succinctly reveals the thought process behind their unique aesthetics. When asked about his approach towards the architecture and design of strip malls, Bachner claimed that he has always aspired “to incorporate elements which are reflective of the specific community in which they are located… Some places might care more about color schemes, or I might have one place with a bell tower, or maybe I will use a blue tile roof in Koreatown—it’s all about community context.” Near the end of Sunset Market Plaza are Catherine Opie’s panoramic photos of strip malls across Los Angeles, all of which honorably confirm the site-specificity Bachner describes as well as their delicate beauty. “[Strip malls] are about the American dream for me,” writes Opie. “But they’re very fragile. They change almost overnight, and are often forgotten about, just like the freeways.”
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Scott & Scott Architects crafts a monochromatic facial bar in Vancouver

Far from the flickering fluorescent lights and bleached-white surfaces of most clinical environments, self-proclaimed “world’s first clean skincare bar” Fig—the latest addition to Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano neighborhood—challenges the sterile tropes of healthcare spaces. Behind an unassuming 1900s-era facade is a rich, tonal boutique replete with velvet, metal, marble, and more, all courtesy of local practice Scott & Scott Architects. Borrowing from the brand’s moniker, the 400 square-foot space is a monochromatic study in layered tones of viridian, olive, and sage. “The color range of a fig is utilized to create a relaxed experience with soft acoustics and illumination,” Scott & Scott principal Susan Scott explained about his and his partner’s evocative choice of materials. Thick full-height velvet curtains define three skin treatment and injection rooms; each with its own Japanese barber chair and hanging metal number plate. To capitalize on the compact interior, Scott & Scott stripped back the ceiling to the full height of the existing rafters, which were then clad in rows of curved perforated steel with a desaturated mint coating. The resulting coffered ceiling integrates indirect lighting while concealing HVAC and electrical equipment. A series of scalloped metal forms continue from the roof to line the surface of a single wall and create a dimensional product display. Circular glass shelves, storage for inventory, and a washbasin to test various skincare items are integrated into these alcoves. Dark green marble tops the central counter, product storage units, and a low bench to further emphasize the nature-inspired palette. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson brings Everlane’s Williamsburg outpost back to basics

You can never have too many black t-shirts, particularly if they are sustainably and ethically made. This sentiment rings true for online clothing retailer Everlane and their latest minimal, refined, and airy outpost; set in a historic 1960s two-story structure. For their fourth and largest store to-date, located in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the brand sought out US firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ)—best known for their work with Apple and Blue Bottle—to helm the design. The result is a 2,700 square-foot space illuminated by a 20 foot-high glazed facade that punctures the white brick exterior to flood the paired-back interior with natural light, all while nodding to the transparency of the brand. Pale maple fixtures with white metal accents, designed by BCJ in collaboration with the retailer, line the women’s department while adding warmth to the muted walls and flooring. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Studio Robert McKinley tailors a European-inspired market in Houston

Following the success of their contemporary honky-tonk, Goodnight Hospitality has taken a break from nightlife in favor of daytime fare. Montrose Cheese & Wine, one of their newest concepts located in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, is tucked behind a crisp-white brick facade accented with tailored viridian moldings. The intimate 800-square-foot cafe and store provides “a local, independent and high-quality source for retail cheese, wine, and pastry needs,” said Goodnight’s David Fleck. Designed by New York-based Studio Robert McKinley and inspired by the vendors, or salumeria, found throughout Europe, the new space contains far more than its moniker implies all while retaining the charm of this old world reference. A curving oiled oak and marble display case sits atop the terrazzo floor and houses a rotating selection of pastries and cheeses courtesy of cheesemonger Shannon McCracken. A sleek metal shelf, suspended on delicate arms behind the counter, presents additional pantry must-haves and further emphasizes the space’s market inspiration. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Taller KEN infuses color into Costa Rican fashion brand Hija de Tigre's new San José boutique

New York and Guatemala-based architecture practice Taller KEN has transformed a formerly unimpressive modernist block in San José, Costa Rica's trendy Escazú neighborhood into a multi-volume boutique for local fashion brand Hija de Tigre. Evoking the label's ethos and business structure—being run by women of different generations—the architecture and interiors project incorporates a full-color spectrum. Renovating an existing building, the firm added additional concrete volumes and did away with obstructive ornamentation to render a more perfect cluster of boxes. Inspired, in part, by Latin American architects Luis Barragán and Ricardo Bofill, the facade is clad in a tropical gradient that ties all components of the architecture together. “The facade is a consequence of the context," Taller KEN co-founder and principal Inés Guzmán said. "Until very recently, suburban San José was farmland. Today it is gated communities of houses and convenience malls and shopping centers. For us, the project was an opportunity to make the stand-alone building “stand out” and bring a fresh, hip and colorful vibe to the surroundings and break from the standard palette of new constructions you see around.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Foster + Partners tops Apple Aventura with wavy white precast roof

Foster + Partners has broken out of its traditional glass-box bubble and designed a different kind of Apple Store—one that’s arguably distinct because it wasn’t built in a major city center, or within another development (and doesn't resemble a Macbook). Apple Aventura in Aventura, north of Miami is a piece of actual mall architecture that ripples above and beyond its predecessors in terms of design.  Located in a new wing of the posh Aventura Mall, the two-story building isn’t a huge departure from the firm’s other work for Apple. It is, in fact, boxy and of course includes trees inside. But the undulating white concrete roof evokes a certain feeling of fluidity in the bayside shopping center that doesn’t exist elsewhere.  “We love the honesty and purity of the concrete,” said Stefan Behling, head of studio at Foster + Partners in a press release.  Behling and the design team worked closely with Jonathan Ive, the former chief design officer of Apple. They said the building’s exterior design mimics Miami’s white art deco-style architecture, as well as its nautical design scene. “This store is very ‘Miami’ to me,” said Ive. “Its special trees, the light, and the new roof. It is also quintessentially Apple, marrying the outdoor lifestyle with a sense of freedom and creativity that is intrinsic to the way we work.”  According to Foster + Partners, the wavy roof design was made from seven precast concrete arches that together form a barrel-vaulted ceiling. The entire structure is held up by steel columns each covered with another thin architectural precast column that's also painted white. Per other Apple stores, this one boasts floor-to-ceiling glass windows, revealing all the activity within the stop.  The result is a light-filled Apple store that actually breaks a big design boundary for the tech giant: Of all its retail spaces, the building is the only one to use precast concrete as a predominant structural material. The idea was first introduced within Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, also known as Apple Park, in 2017. Inside Apple Ventura, the ground-floor is decked out with rows of elongated wooden tables that serve as Apple’s signature product displays. A large terraced seating area anchors one end of the store, allowing guests to relax while waiting for their Genius Bar appointments or to secure space for an in-store event. The flight of interior steps is outfitted with leather seating and charging stations.  Outside the store, a densely planted garden features teak tables and chairs that seamlessly reference the interior architecture. Customers can also hang out in the shade of the outdoor “Genius Grove” while they wait for assistance.  The Apple Aventura store is situated just steps away from the spiraling Aventura Slide Tower by Carsten Höller, a 93-foot-tall piece of public art that's among the most famed parts of the 2.8-million-square-foot shopping campus. The entire site is the second-largest mall in America.
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Retail is getting reimagined with augmented reality

Retail is dead. Long live retail. With the ubiquity of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail has become more competitive. Good deals and low prices aren't enough to draw customers into stores anymore; today's customers are looking for experiences, according to developers and retail prognosticators. Canadian outdoor goods retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has teamed up with creative technology from Finger Food to offer an in-store—or in-home—experience that bridges the digital and the physical: augmented reality tent shopping.  "Retail has gone through significant disruption and it's only going to get faster," said David Labistour, CEO of MEC. The outdoor company sees this disruption as a unique opportunity for growth. MEC offers more tents than can fit in their stores. Rather than hanging excess tents from the ceiling, MEC asked Finger Food to develop an application that would allow customers using a phone, tablet, or AR/VR goggles to see and explore a full-scale, fully rendered (inside and out) 3D version of every single tent that MEC sells. What's special about this particular use of the increasingly common AR technology is the unprecedented level of detail Finger Food was able to achieve.   Finger Food create their ultra-realistic 3d models in an enormous room they call the holodeck — named after the high-tech virtual reality rooms in Star Trek. Using a proprietary photogrammetry rig and accompanying software, the company can take thousands of photos of any object to capture its geometries and textures at extremely high resolution. In addition to the realism, Finger Food's solution is distinguished by its speed—scanning an object requires less than an hour, compared to days that could be spent creating a 3D model from scratch—and the system has proven its capability to capture objects of any scale, from a pair of sunglasses to a semi-truck.  Their work for MEC isn't Finger Food's first foray into the retail space. The group has previously worked with Lowe's home improvement stores to develop two augmented reality apps. One lets users see what products look like in their homes—everything from accent tile to a six-burner stove—and easily make a purchase afterward. The other app guides users through Lowe's 1000,000-square-foot stores to find the exact products they're looking for; it also notifies employees when an item needs restocking.  Customers can currently use the AR application at MEC's flagship Toronto store, with a larger rollout planned. "We believe the future of the customer experience will be significantly changed through the integration of technology," said Labistour. If these technologies prove successful, the retail experience and store design could be changed as well. In a future with augmented reality and next-day delivery, less space may be needed in stores as fewer items would be kept on display and in stock.
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Fashion brand BLDWN taps Montalba Architects for Melrose Place flagship

A true American clothing brand that draws influence from the country's most iconic artists, BLDWN identified a kindred spirit in firm Montalba Architects. Calling on the Los Angeles and Lausanne-based practice to design it's latest 1,100 square foot Beverly Hills boutique, the label sought to create a space that would evoke it's bold yet tasteful aesthetic; a vocabulary Montalba translated in an almost symbiotic fashion. The compact retail space is defined by a series of framed vignettes, positioned as a curated series of snapshots depicting the brand-story and projected lifestyle image of BLDWN. Montalba implemented a minimalistic material palette, one it has become famous for in numerous projects, that is both structurally sound and functional in providing ample display space. Custom-built white-oak millwork and strategically-placed black-steel volumes combine in a multi-layered shelving matrix. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.