Fresh Air

Timberland’s new temporary space on New York’s Fifth Avenue brings nature inside, encouraging visitors to embrace the great outdoors
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Posted January 1, 2019

When you think of “pop-up” retail, chances are that Timberland’s (Stratham, N.H.) new flex retail space on New York’s Fifth Avenue is not what comes to mind. Though the store, which opened at the beginning of October, is indeed a temporary space, its grand scale and elegant environs, along with the seamless integration of the store design into the existing building, belie an investment that’s surely not fleeting.

The 3500-square-foot store is located in the Postal Life Insurance Building, a structure originally designed by renowned bank architects York & Sawyer (New York) with the interior renovated in 1962 by Luss, Kaplan & Associates (New York). Designed to reflect the outdoor brand’s 45-year-old heritage of nature conservation and protection, its message is to encourage New Yorkers to embrace the outdoors.

“The Fifth Avenue flex store concept viscerally connects the Timberland community to our purpose of encouraging folks to step outside, work together and make it better with our products,” explains Bevan Bloemendaal, VP, Global Environments and Creative Services, Timberland. 

Floor-to-ceiling windows offer both an abundance of natural light as well as clear sightlines into the space, which sits at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street and opens at 9 a.m. to tempt morning commuters to start their day with some retail therapy. Modern illustrations of nature’s elements – wind, water, earth and sky – are suspended in each of the eight windows.

“We wanted to take advantage of the incredible windows in the space and reimagined our original 1973 weather icons as artwork,” says Bloemendaal. “This is a temporary space, so you can’t do certain things; you can’t drill into walls, for example. We had to come up with some ingenious ways to hang these without damaging the building.”

Natural terrariums populated by ferns, moss and other native New England species, 10 full-size living birch and ficus trees, and a green wall composed of nearly 2000 living plants add a lush quality to the space, in addition to carrying the brand’s earth-friendly message indoors. Once the temporary store closes, all of the plants will be donated and re-planted throughout the city.

Men’s footwear is displayed in front of the living wall on clear Plexiglas hanging shelves, providing a visual of what the product might look like in its natural habitat. Signage featuring black and white lifestyle photography above the footwear draws the eye up and denotes the category of shoe below.

“Given the ceiling height, we were fortunate to bring large-scale graphics above the footwear wall, designating the category of footwear through photography head to toe,” says Bloemendaal.

Modern and elegant white fixtures with orange accents (the specific color found inside the brand’s iconic yellow boot) complement the structure’s stark white walls, coffered ceilings and gilded chandeliers. Bespoke tables and custom benches made from reclaimed wood and metal were created for the brand.

“The rugged characteristics you know the brand for come through in the mixed media used in the craftsmanship of these one of a kind tables,” he says.

A temporary rear wall built to create a stock area and back room features life-size prints of a stunning forest scene in winter and spring by Dutch landscape photographer Albert Dros, creating a dramatic backdrop that anchors the large, open space.

The store also features two experiential elements – an interactive “snow room” that provides the perfect stage for selfies and a “rain room,” complete with LED “raindrops” suspended from the ceiling and the sound of falling that makes a sensory connection to the brand’s waterproof products.

Taking only three weeks to build out, the Fifth Avenue store is one of seven temporary Timberland flex retail spaces open across the U.S. for the fall and winter season: three in New York, three in Los Angeles and one in Miami. The retailer is finding the format invaluable for testing and learning new concepts and new markets without making a significant commitment.

“There is a tremendous amount of real estate available right now, and the flex concept offers us the opportunity to test the market and make decisions based on known factors,” says Bloemendaal.

The store’s aesthetic will reportedly live on even after it has closed. This design will serve to inspire future Timberland stores around the world, according to Jim Pisani, Global Brand President, Timberland.

PROJECT SUPPLIERS

Retailer
Timberland, Stratham, N.H.

Design
Timberland, Stratham, N.H.
Guerilla, London

Fixtures
Visual Citi, Lindenhurst, N.Y.
Maximum Visibility, Topanga, Calif.

Furniture
Cleveland Art, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Mannequins/Forms
Blue Dot Asia, Singapore

Living Wall and Plants
Greenery NYC, New York

Back Wall Imagery
Albert Dros, The Netherlands

Windows
Wyndham Millworks, Wyndham, Maine
Synnott Imaging, Plainfield, Conn.

Signage/Graphics
Synnott Imaging, Plainfield, Conn.

Snow and Rain Room
Track Marketing, New York

Photography: John Muggenborg, New York