Shoes Shine on Madison Avenue

Stuart Weitzman uses every device to make the merchandise the star of his new concept store in New York. He even throws in the kitchen sink.
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Posted December 7, 2008
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Luxurious details are a hallmark of the Stuart Weitzman brand. His vision of a retail setting for his fashionable shoes transcends traditional materials. He likes to employ the unexpected, from ultra suede to Swarovski crystal. For the designer’s newly renovated store on Madison Avenue in New York, created by Milanese artist and interior designer Fabio Novembre, that unexpected material is an artificial solid surface more commonly found on kitchen sinks and bathroom vanities.

An intricate, ribbon-like network of undulating DuPont Corian playfully winds into a labyrinth of twisting bands along the ceiling, inspired by the work of conceptual artists Christo and Jean Claude. Novembre’s imagination uses the space as an enveloping medium to fully embrace the visitor.

The Corian ribbon is also used as perimeter shelving and freestanding fixtures. The sensuous pieces create unexpected merchandising spots and an adventure in discovery as customers wander through the space. The Corian, produced off-site, was put together as pieces of a puzzle. Mirrors were then custom cut to fit around the installation.

Novembre was commissioned to create a retail space that presents the designer’s creations as works of art, and blending materials and textures is a key ingredient of that design. Italian bisazza glass tiles with silver leaf on the back are used for focal opportunities in transition zones, to highlight specific merchandise groupings. Geometric vertical applications offset the amorphic Corian shapes. Venetian plaster on the ceiling and walls holds the varying materials together in one cohesive envelope. The essence of the handcrafted plaster is carried onto the floor with bomanite, a composite of hand-applied concrete and resin.

Paul Baglio, Stuart Weitzman’s director of visual presentation, says his challenge is to integrate merchandise into Novembre’s sculptural environment. He allows the natural gestures of the Corian ribbon to dictate what kind of product is displayed and where. “The movement and line of the Corian offers special merchandising moments for special products,” he says. Baglio uses a merchandising ratio of 80 percent shoes to 20 percent handbags on the shoe walls and the reverse on the handbag walls. Taller shoes are strategically placed up high to more fully expose their design elements.

A high-gloss, chrome laminate surface in the entryway captures the reflection of the interior space, creating the illusion of a continuous environment that spills out into the street. Given the competition on Madison Avenue, Weitzman and Novembre have employed every notion to attract shoppers through the door, so that, ultimately, more shoes walk out the door.

Project Suppliers

Client
Stuart Weitzman, New York

Design
Studio Novembre, Milan

Architect
Brand and Allen, Houston

Outside Design Consultant
Schwinghammer Lighting, New York (lighting)

Audio/Visual
DMX, North Boro, Mass.

Fixtures
Legend Interiors, Hong Kong

Vision Woodworking, Fridley, Minn.
Flooring

Beyond Concrete, Keyfort, N.J.
Architectural Flooring Resource Inc., New York

Lighting
Lighting Management Inc., Harriman, N.Y.

Eric Feigenbaum, New York