Triple 5 Soul gets back in touch with the urban groove at a New York store by Readymade Projects
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 11/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When Camella Ehlke launched Triple 5 Soul in 1989, she envisioned more than just a line of street-savvy sportswear. "It's a whole urban lifestyle—a movement of artists, musicians, dancers, and DJs," she explains. Her boutique on New York's Lower East Side was more hangout pad than store, with Ehlke playing den mother to an influential underground crew. In 1997, she opened in a SoHo space better suited to selling merchandise but, due to the small size, not ideal for exploiting artistic synergies. Expanding into an adjacent storefront, which added 1,400 square feet to the existing 700, has provided an opportunity to reconnect with the downtown community and rethink the relationship between the brand's retail and marketing strategies—a job entrusted to designer Stephen Burks of Readymade Projects.
With movable fixtures and a cluster of colorful counters that does triple duty as cash-wrap desk, bar, and DJ booth, the new boutique also hosts album launches and photo shoots. Rotating art allows for continual reinvention. "The store is constantly changing, much like the product," says Burks.
His budget was largely consumed by infrastructure and new pine flooring, thus dictating the use of inexpensive materials found in industrial-supply catalogs. Fixtures were fashioned from 13-ply maple plywood and plastic laminate. Old wood chairs were spruced up with brand logos picked out in the same orange tape used to wrap packages. Ceiling-mounted custom hangers made of chrome-plated steel display clothing for sale. For in-store experimentation only, "wearable listening stations"—hoodies with built-in headphones and CD players—encourage grooving in the store window.