The Bare Necessities
For a high-end lingerie store in New York, MOVK got down to the basics
Linas Alsenas -- Interior Design, 4/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Two years ago, Lauren and Allen Blankenship sold their men's lifestyle Web site, www.rouze.com, to Playboy Enterprises. Not content to rest on their laurels, the husband and wife entrepreneurs then crossed the gender divide to dream up Bodyhints, an intimate-apparel venue somewhere between a department store and a high-end boutique. "The concept was born of Lauren's frustration with lingerie shopping," explains Allen Blankenship. "For designer items, she had to go to some old-lady, boudoir-type boutique where someone's constantly hovering over you." Dismissing Victoria's Secret as the "Gap of lingerie," the couple conceived Bodyhints as a destination for pricier unmentionables worth mentioning, from Chiarugi to Roberto Cavalli.
Consummate Internet veterans, the Blankenships went directly to www.newyork-architects.com in search of the right firm to convert a SoHo gallery to retail use. MOVK Architecture + Design won out, and principals Mark Oller and Victoria Kirk were charged with completing the job—in a flash. "We gave them a completely unrealistic time frame, but they totally delivered," says Allen Blankenship. A month after MOVK signed on, rapid-fire construction began, and the store opened less than two months later. Kirk credits the flexibility of the existing space for the fast turnaround: "We were basically presented with a white box and a maple floor." Lighting, fitting rooms, and storage and display units were installed, and an existing stairwell was updated with frosted-glass panels and a coat of silver paint. The versatile laminate wall system allows easy reconfiguration. "We spent a lot of time talking about how to hang underwear nicely—it's a very tough product to show," says Kirk. Display units, both freestanding and built-in varieties, were designed in oak and stainless steel. Samples on hangers attract perusal, while different sizes are stored in drawers below.
Adding a casual, residential touch are an oversize mirror and a walnut cashier's table. Above hangs a custom light fixture shaded by little glass squares woven together with nickel wire. ("The shade reminded us of a bodice," explains Kirk.) MOVK also made the fitting rooms sizable and comfortable. Surrounded by plush cream carpeting, substantial red curtains, and muted lighting, patrons feel more at home stripping to their undies.