Right at Home
Daniel Rowen evokes the comforts of home in Michael Kors' new Madison Avenue shop.
Henry Urbach -- Interior Design, 9/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
The Michael Kors boutique on New York's Upper East Side was designed by Daniel Rowen to reflect the simple, modern, plush attitude of Michael Kors' clothing. Rather than following a minimalist approach, however, the choice of many designers working at the upper end of retail in recent years, Rowen treated the shop as a kind of residential interior, with fixtures and furnishings that invite repose and suggest a certain homey, tactile intimacy. "We wanted to make a store that would feel luxurious," he says, "but still be part of the neighborhood. The idea was to invite the customer to feel comfortable by providing an old-world ambience, even though the point of view is clearly contemporary."
The 3,500-sq.-ft. store occupies the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and East 76th Street, with a white, Thassos marble entry separated from the retail floor by a curving, stainless-steel bead curtain and freestanding panels of acid-etched glass. The beaded curtain is reiterated at a smaller scale along the 76th Street façade, where little window vitrines are also backed by strands of these metal pearls. Floating, hinged panels along the interior of the wall provide access to the vitrines while allowing daylight to seep into the boutique; the panels further articulate a framed surface that sets off the hanging clothes, displayed on linear steel rods.
Men's and women's sportswear, women's eveningwear, and accessories are displayed on the main level. Walls and ceilings are painted white and the floor is a dark, stained African boire wood. A single, wide mirror runs floor to ceiling, and three different kinds of light fixtures were installed above to create a highly variable mix of direct and indirect lighting. Large changing rooms, marked off by leather curtains, are located at the rear of the space, as are open wooden stairs that lead to the VIP fitting room, additional dressing rooms, and service area below.
Within this sleek wrapper, Rowen installed an ensemble of furniture elements that suggests a more domestic environment and invites customers to occupy the space in a more relaxed manner. An early Florence Knoll design for chairs and settees is rendered in camel-colored leather (camel is a classic Kors color), and various tables and dresser-like vitrines are made of stained American walnut, glass, and stainless steel. Towards the back of the main floor, a large "dining" table provides a surface for display and light work tasks. An acrylic chandelier above the stairs, along with various standing and table lamps with linen shades, further enhances the illusion of shopping at home.