Just when you think you’ve heard it all, Paris-based Devialet is revolutionizing the way we listen to and hear music. The opening of its inaugural standalone store in the U.S., on SoHo’s Greene Street, is a 2200-square-foot dream for any audiophile – the brand’s proprietary sound-processing technology reportedly allows customers to listen to music exactly as the artist recorded it.
With the desire to have its first U.S. store at the epicenter of the music world, the company set its sights on The Big Apple. After much consideration, Devialet decided the SoHo neighborhood offered the best location and atmosphere for its new digs. (With the 2016 opening of Sonos up the block, SoHo now offers its very own “Street of Speakers.”)
In designing a memorable and recognizable space to showcase the brand’s products, and to differentiate itself from competitors, Devialet drew inspiration from Northern Ireland’s mystifying Giant’s Causeway. Formed by upwards of 40,000 near-perfect volcanic rock columns topped with hexagonal pedestals, it is one of the Emerald Isles’ most popular tourist attractions. Struck by the beauty of the 60 million-year-old formations, Devialet used the surreal imagery to highlight its revolutionary product.
The space is organized into distinct zones, all correlating with individual Wi-Fi areas that contain sound to allow for simultaneous demonstrations. The store’s open glass façade is an attention grabber for passersby, with dissected product revealing the inner-workings of the devices’ technology on display. From the street, viewers can see the internal pulsations of the convex speakers that allow sound to be amplified at 360 degrees.
The words “#1 In High End Audio” are emblazoned on a front wall as a welcoming gesture for visitors entering the space. The entrance zone then presents a grouping of products shown in gallery-like fashion, all displayed on multilevel modular, hexagonal fixtures. Modern and state-of-the-art, the speakers are presented like pieces of fine sculpture.
The central zone of the all-white minimalist space houses the Home Theater, where customers can experience the brand’s complete audiovisual entertainment setup. Continuing through the space, the third zone offers a more personal experience. By appointment, customers can enjoy a private listening session in Devialet’s exclusive Immersion Room. Here, the listener can explore the sonic advances developed by Devialet engineers in the form of the company’s special edition speakers. This acoustically sealed room locks out any external noise emanating from the rest of the store or from SoHo’s bustling streets.
Like many SoHo interiors, the back of the space features a skylight. Seizing the opportunity, Devialet created a double-height (street-level and lower-level) space under the skylight to serve as a theater for social gatherings and scheduled music and audiovisual events.
Devialet’s New York flagship is a wonderful study in omnichannel retailing. Recognizing that a strong retail presence is an important tool to raise international brand awareness, the store offers an engaging experience that can’t be rivaled online. The brick-and-mortar environment exposes audiophiles (at any level of expertise) to technologies that have been years in the making.