Following the success of its zip bag for french luxury goods company longchamp the studio was commissioned to design the brand’s flagship store in Soho, New York. Set within a two-storey building, the main retail space was large but was located at first floor level. With only a tiny space on the ground floor the store had virtually no impact on the street. The studio’s challenge was to scoop people in off the street and make them go upstairs. After adding an extra storey to accommodate a showroom and garden terrace, the studio cut a hole down through the entire building, bringing light into the ground floor space while drawing the eye upwards, apparently towards the surface. As a conventional staircase might be an obstacle for weary shoppers, the studio decided to think instead about a piece of hillside that would carry them upstairs. Starting at the front door of the shop, steel ribbons the width of steps create a landscape that reaches up through the building, pulling apart to form steppable surfaces that bring visitors up and up towards the giant skylight above. There is also the sense of a downward flow, like a waterfall falling from the skylight, dropping through the storeys, bouncing over its big, generous curved surfaces, becoming stairs and landings and more stairs. The ribbons of the landscape stair have transparent balustrades which have been warped in a giant toaster specially created for the project. Their surfaces drape and flow as they catch the light, turning everything they reflect into gorgeous shapes. Nothing in the shop is separated from anything else as the activity on one floor can be glimpsed on the next.
Collaborators: Atmosphere Design Group, Building Structural Engineering Services, Jean Cassegrain, Philippe Cassegrain, Decca, Gilsanz Murray Steficek, HDLC Architectural Lighting Design, Hillside Ironworks, Imperial Woodworking Enterprises, O’Dea Lynch Abbattista & Associates, Outsource Consultants, Packman Lucas, Shawmut Design & Construction, Talbot Designs