Non traditional materials were selected to engage visitors’ sense of sight as well as smell.
Menswear designer Michael Bastian collaborated with designers Bittertang on the eleventh popup store installation for Boffo Building Fashion in New York City. The first of two projects for 2013, Bittertang’s design proposal was selected as the winner from an open submission call to architects and designers. Bittertang had just over a week to construct the shop using two shipping containers as a starting point.
PSFK spoke with Antonio Torres of Bittertang who said they designed the environment to be a more visceral experience than a typical retail store and one that took advantage of the short time the space would exist. Design inspiration came from painter Andrew Wyeth’s New England Gothic style. Open for just three weeks, the schedule opened up opportunities to consider more temporal materials drawn from themes in the paintings.
The exterior was created from a few truckloads of hay. Bittertang created a mound that reaches 20 feet in height. The intention with the hay pile was to visually contrast the surrounding industrial environment, the under-renovation Pier 57, aka SuperPier. There’s color and texture to the hay but also a scent that makes a nod to the fall season.
The interior lies through a narrow entryway in the hay pile. Inside, visitors get to experience a glowing room with walls entirely made from paraffin and bees wax. Bittertang had never attempted to use wax in this quantity, 400 pounds worth, and at this scale. Torres said there wasn’t much time to experiment and develop a preferred fabrication approach to creating the wax walls. In the end the team used electric heaters to liquify batches of wax and pour them into molds. The wax wall sections were then tipped up from the floor into place in the same way walls in houses are created today. The wax mix was developed to take advantage of paraffin as a structural ingredient and bees wax for color and scent. Torres says he hopes people will get close and smell the wax walls to get the full experience.
The shop was designed to be 2/3 mood space and 1/3 retail shop. Transitioning between these spaces happens through an archway covered in hand-applied black feathers. Michael Bastian’s fall/winter 2013 collection is merchandised in an all black room which contrasts the glowing wax wall space. The clothes are displayed on custom build wooden racks made to resemble chair spindles. Other altered traditional furniture pieces throughout the space function as guest seating and display pieces.
Michael Bastian + Bittertang for BOFFO 2013
Nov 3 – 21, 2013
at SuperPier(Pier 57) 11th Ave and 15th St
[L to R] Michael Loverich (Bittertang), Michael Bastian, Antonio Torres (Bittertang)