Cole Haan moves ahead with a laid-back look, coordinated by Valerio Dewalt Train
Cindy Coleman -- Interior Design, 4/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Since 1928, Cole Haan, maker of high-quality shoes, bags, and outerwear, has been an American style icon. The company built its business and reputation on superb quality, craftsmanship, and service, and those fine attributes endured through 1988, when Cole Haan became a wholly owned subsidiary of another uniquely American company, Nike. Now take a fast walk forward to 1999, when Gordon Thompson, a trained architect and former member of Nike's executive brand team, arrived at Cole Haan. Today, as Cole Haan's executive vice president and creative director, Thompson oversees all product, store, and advertising design and is reinventing the brand as a multifaceted reflection of current American style.
Part of Thompson's branding concept involves reimaging retail outlets across the country. For a new Cole Haan flagship in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile shopping district, Thompson and his in-house team collaborated with Chicago architecture firm Valerio Dewalt Train Associates. Both Thompson and Valerio Dewalt Train project principal Randall Mattheis felt that the new aesthetic Thompson was bringing to the Cole Haan product line was strongly connected to the inventiveness of California modernism. Accordingly, they designed the 4,200-square-foot store to evoke the style of a 1950s California house.
A central spine sets up the traffic flow and organizes the deep space. Rooms at either side of the spine are demarcated by ivory-colored block walls with large circle cutouts where shoes and bags are displayed; the focal point at the end of the spine is a latticework teak wall that beautifully recalls Cole Haan's signature woven leather. Eamesian custom shelving mixes with vintage daybeds, lounge chairs, cabinets, and consoles, giving the rooms a residential scale and appearance. Over the seating, pendant globe lights hang from cantilevered wooden beams. "The modern artisan design of the interior clearly defines Cole Haan's visual vocabulary and bridges all aspects of the brand, from advertising to product design to the shopping experience," says Mattheis. And better yet, the store brings a hint of warm-weather ease to the Windy City—you'd wear out a lot more shoe leather walking from Chicago to Palm Springs.