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STORE SPACES

First Look: RH bets big on New York—and physical retail—with lavish store

BY Marianne Wilson

RH (formerly Restoration Hardware) has unveiled its biggest location to date, a 90,000-sq.-ft. store (or “Gallery” in RH speak) in the heart of Manhattan’s historic Meatpacking District.

The store, whose arrival was announced in a four-page ad in the New York Times with the headline, “The death of retailing is overrated,” showcases all of RH’s businesses. Entire floors are dedicated to interiors, modern, outdoor, baby & child, and teen. And for the first time, RH has integrated its interior design firm services into its retail experience. The second floor features RH Interior Design offices, with five private client presentation rooms and state-of-the-art technology.

The new RH also reflects the increasingly important role hospitality is playing in the company’s playbook. It features a barista bar and rooftop restaurant complete with an outdoor wine terrace. (The restaurant and bar are from celebrated restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff, founding president of RH Hospitality.)

The company’s vision will come full circle next year when it opens the first-ever RH GuestHouse boutique hotel open across the street from the Meatpacking location.

RH is located in an historic landmark building that has been reimagined with a modern, steel-and-glass structure that rises five floors through the persevered original brick façade. Cast-iron I-beam evoke the industrial past of the neighborhood. (The space marks RH chairman and CEO Gary Friedman’s ongoing collaboration with design architect James Gillam of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger.)

The new RH features an array of distinctive elements, including the following.

• The skylit six-story central atrium features stacked cast-iron columns and a transparent elevator that goes up to the glass-encased rooftop restaurant and outdoor space.

• Visitors can also reach the upper levels by way of a grand double staircase illuminated by a glittery art installation (New York Night, by Alison Berger.) Composed of 120 hand-blown crystal teardrop pendants that cascade 90 ft. through the six-story staircase, the piece is designed to evoke a downpour at nightfall. It is set against a backdrop of polished charcoal Venetian plaster.

• The rooftop restaurant is designed to serve as a year-round skylit garden escape. The space is layered with crystal chandeliers, Asiatic jasmine, and elegant banquette seating defined by Japanese boxwood hedging and London plane trees. The restaurant opens onto a landscaped garden wine terrace that offers sweeping views of downtown Manhattan, One World Trade Center and the Hudson River.

For more slideshows, click here.

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Starbucks makes big green store push

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks is extending its commitment to sustainability with an ambitious initiative expected to reduce utilities expenses by $50 million during the next 10 years.

The coffee giant’s new “Greener Stores” framework is designed to set a new standard for designing, building and operating Starbucks stores. Over the next year, Starbucks will develop an accredited program to audit all existing company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada against the framework criteria, which will result in the chain operating 10,000 “greener stores” globally by 2025, (encompassing existing locations, new builds and renovations.)

The program includes a focus on using responsibly-sourced materials, energy efficiency, as well as lighting, air and noise improvements. It will employ energy-efficient technologies that will reduce energy consumption by 25% compared to prior store designs.

Starbucks expects the new standards will save an incremental $50 million in utility costs over the next 10 years, building on its 10-year legacy of utility savings generated from its existing eco-friendly practices. To date, those savings have equated to $30 million in annual operating costs.

“We know that designing and building green stores is not only responsible, it is cost effective as well,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO, Starbucks. “The energy and passion of our green apron partners has inspired us to find ways to operate a greener store that will generate even greater cost savings while reducing impact.”

With performance-based standards that incorporate design and extend throughout the life of a store, “Starbucks Greener Stores” will focus on the following:

Energy efficiency & water stewardship: Deploying technologies and practices that ultimately deliver 30% water savings and 25% avoided energy over historic store design practices;

Renewable energy: Powering stores by 100% renewable energy through investments in country-specific solar and wind projects;

Responsible materials: Ensuring materials and products for stores are responsibly and sustainably sourced;

Waste diversion: Designing and operating stores to reduce waste;

Healthy environment: Designing and operating stores to create a comfortable experience that promotes wellness for partners and customers, including lighting, noise, air quality and temperature; and

• Inspiring a culture of sustainability and empowering partners to take action, be informed, and engage in sustainability issues and practices.

The new framework will be co-developed by leading experts including World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and will be audited and verified by SCS Global Services, a third-party verification organization that also oversees Starbucks Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices. It will be open-sourced to allow other retailers to benefit.

Starbucks has been a trailblazer in the development and implementation of scalable green building and operations. In 2001, the retailer joined with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop the LEED for Retail program, and in 2005, Starbucks opened its first LEED-certified store. Currently, the company operates more than 1,500 LEED-certified stores globally across 20 countries – including all 50 states and Puerto Rico – more than any other retailer in the world.

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Kirkland’s opens new prototype

BY Marianne Wilson

Kirkland’s is testing a new shopping experience.

The home décor and gifts retailer has revamped its store in Brentwood, Tennessee. The new, reimagined store design features an improved layout that groups trends and style stories up front, enabling shoppers to easily find the latest, on-trend home accents and gifts.

Kirkland’s has also introduced styled vignettes to illustrate design combinations and spark inspiration as customers shop the space. A centrally located “Creation Station” provides a blank canvas where shoppers can bring items from around the store to see how they work together before deciding to buy.

In addition, the store’s overall interior look has been completely refreshed, with an open ceiling, exposed white brick and concrete-finish flooring. Updated white oak fixtures featuring metal accents display merchandise throughout the store.

“From the finishes to the floor plan, we made every decision for this redesign with the goal of creating the very best in-store experience for our Kirkland’s shoppers,” said Mike Cairnes, acting CEO, Kirkland’s, which operates 400 stores in 37 states. “The Brentwood location is in our backyard and often serves as our test lab, so we’re using this store as a prototype, gathering feedback from our local shoppers to redefine the future of the Kirkland’s retail experience nationwide.”

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