Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Michael Kors, Anne Klein, Kate Spade. Each label possesses a distinct fashion identity, from sophisticated to businesslike to a little bit flirty. The designers' shoe lines, however, share a New York home: the 10,000-square-foot two-level headquarters of manufacturer Schwartz & Benjamin. To house dedicated showrooms for Kors, Klein, and Spade footwear—in addition to administrative and inventory facilities—BergerRait Design Associates delivered an individualized scheme that's also cohesive enough to function as a unified event venue as foot traffic shifts from one-on-one meetings to seasonal shows.
On the lower level, lacquered sliding doors separate the Kate Spade showroom from a wide circulation spine that, with its ample glazing, encapsulates the reception area, lounge, and coffee bar. Midway along this corridor, a staircase with concrete treads and cold-rolled steel handrails rises over a rock garden ringed with leather cushions. The stair leads up to a design studio, administrative offices, company archives, storage, and the showroom for Kors—the largest, at 950 square feet.
All three showrooms feature easy-to-adjust shelving, gray-tinted poured-concrete floors, and such mid-century icons as Eames Soft Pad seating and Eero Saarinen stools. "The client was familiar with the classics," says partner Michael Rait. "We refurbished pieces already in their collection and acquired new ones specifically keyed to each brand's established retail identity." For Kors, Rait provided Eames Aluminum Group chairs; Spade got Saarinen Womb chairs, upholstered in lipstick red.