The firm has been commissioned to design Shinola’s New York flagship store. The retail store will feature the brand’s customizable, American-made bikes, watches, small leather goods, and journals. The two story store includes the retail space and The Smile Cafe on the first floor, and a showroom and storage space on the second floor.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you? Who is the at-risk population, and what behavior do you seek to change in this population?
The Shinola Tribeca (NYC) flagship store is the company's second retail location (the first is in Detroit) and the second opportunity for the public to experience the full brand story—from expressing Shinola’s core values and why they make the products they do, to why they are passionate about making them in America.
As the first flagship store outside of the company's base city, Detroit, the firm was challenged to create a space that would successfully and justly bring the heart of the Michigan company to Tribeca. While the store design stays true to the neighborhood, the simple materials and design elements draw inspiration from America's manufacturing legacy.
Inspired by the brand's passion for innovation, beauty, utility, and attention to detail, we have created a design language that references the industrial culture of the 20th century. Originally established as a workshop, the key aspect of the space revolves around the power of making and expressing that. The romance of production is that when you're aware of the hand that makes, you are more likely to connect to an object or experience. The Shinola brand embraces this idea, and therefore the store expresses it.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The firm wanted to create a space that truly portrayed Shinola's values - the belief that domestic manufacturing is a vital part of our country's heritage and a driving force behind our culture and sense of community. Given that Tribeca is a very residential neighborhood, we modeled Shinola after a general store - a very local feel.
The interior takes inspiration from artist Donald Judd's library in Marfa, TX; it creates a feeling of curiosity which makes you want to explore the store further. For the retail and workshop areas, we selected simple materials reminiscent of the manufacturing age - including wood, brass, and bronze. The store’s poured concrete floor and vaulted plaster ceiling add to this aesthetic.
Custom-made furniture complements the meticulous, handcrafted quality of Shinola’s products. We were obsessed with every aspect of the space, down to the smallest detail, including the turn-of-the-century bronze letterpress tray that will be used to store the café’s dirty dishes to the Italian-made brass hooks and drawer pulls to the hand blown 19th century apothecary jars that serve as flower vases.
An over-sized, century-old antique oak vitrine displays watches and other products lines the rear wall of the store, and is accented by a back-lit stippled atelier skylight.The vitrine display case are lit with 19th century bronze library lamps manufactured by I.P. Frink, Inc.
A Shinola bike is hung with custom bronze hardware and black nylon rope from two columns near the vitrine and skylight. Bikes are also displayed on the north wall. The center of the workshop area features three custom white oak tables with built-in cord storage with handle-less doors that flip up. The chairs for the tables are custom made and handcrafted with a white oak frame and woven black leather seat and back.
One of the main design elements is an over-sized 1930's bronze world wall map that once hung in the lobby of an oil company located at Rockefeller Center. A brass and steel catwalk wrapping the first floor is reachable by a brass spiral staircase.
This Shinola store differs from its original location by providing greater engagement in each category of products. Not only does the store feature all the brand's hand-made pieces, but it also carries both curated and collaborative products made with like-minded companies to produce a more dynamic inventory. For example, the bicycle product category features bike bags, racks, bells, helmets, and more.
The store includes The Smile Cafe and Newsstand, which serves coffee and offer a selection of books and magazines from around the world. A contemporary version of a classic New York lobby newsstand, the Smile Cafe epitomizes Shinola's desire to integrate into and give back to its surrounding Tribeca neighborhood.
This bare bones but fundamental rethinking of what a bike shop should be results in a space that could easily be mistaken for a museum or art gallery. It looks less like a space of retail exchange than a quiet and pretty beautifully realized room dedicated to the future of personal transportation. – Geoff Manaugh