SoHo Retail Installation Resembles Canopy of Flowers
A temporary store installation draws shoppers in with a floral theme
In New York’s SoHo neighborhood, fresh ideas in retail are often tested on an audience of millions of shoppers every year. With that many pairs of eyes, it’s possible to make an impression even when those eyes might belong to little more than window shoppers. And with the area’s cultural cachet having been built on its art galleries (despite the fact that they’ve mostly been replaced with chain stores now), it makes sense that high-end boutiques like Melissa would want to harken back to this golden age by mixing up the two categories. The result combines high fashion (involving plastic shoes, no less) and striking installation art to create an experience where the store, not just the product, is the center of attention.
The We Are Flowers installation in Melissa’s Greene Street boutique resembles a vortex of verbal beauty, with an enormous expanse of 20,000 translucent, multicolored flowers forming a canopy from the front to the rear of the store. According to the engineers at SOFTLab, the installation relates visually to Melissa’s “We Are Flowers” collection in that it embodies its aesthetic values: it is “technically innovative with attention to every detail, but first and foremost a design that expresses sensuality through its form and brings joy and color to the Melissa experience.”
The flowers hang from a mylar net made out of more than 4,000 pieces, and though it looks strong it actually works through an opposing principle. “The installation is a surface that forms its shape when it is held in tension. So the frame is not hanging from the ceiling, but rather it is pulling the installation out towards the walls,” studio founder Michael Svizos explains. “To make sure the surface of the installation was pulled taut we designed a detail that included a spring to pull the frame to the north and south walls. We did a number of mock-ups of this detail in the studio to make sure that we had the proper pulling force and necessary tolerances.” The renderings of the installation from various angles just show how all-around elegant it is.
According to Svizos, who has worked with many such installations, the trend of intricate but temporary store displays resemble an expanded version of the intricate window displays that have become a hallmark of high street shopping everywhere. He sees three concrete benefits for stores:
1. Rather than spending a large sum of money on an exuberant renovation which may have to be redone in 3-5 years some brands are opting for a simple white “gallery” space. This way they spend less money on a renovation and spread it out on commissioned art/design pieces.
2. By doing this it creates the potential for marketing, buzz, etc. and the potential to have an opening and event with each install.
3. These installations tend to happen with a collection. For some brands the collections are radically different and they would rather have a retail experience that matches the concept of that collection. By commissioning an installation throughout the year it allows a store to do that (as in the case with Melissa).
And of course, all these benefits will continue to be amplified as shoppers continue to gather and share. It’s just one fun perk of staying connected to brick-and-mortar retail.
[h/t] New York Magazine