Change Is Good
New York's original design destination has become Moroso at Moss, where Patricia Urquiola's furniture and interiors meet
Stephen Treffinger -- Interior Design, 7/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
"It's like my life," Patricia Urquiola says of New York's Moroso at Moss, her recent retail project. "I am always reinventing my life!" The busy architect and furniture designer—not to mention mother—is excited about the contents of the shop, which will be swapped out seasonally, as well as about its flexible interior. "All this change is a part of the Moroso story," she says. "It's always very fresh." It's also definitely a reflection of her own energetic personality.
New Yorkers, of course, remember this space as the original Moss design gallery. As Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell slowly inched their way up the block, they found themselves with more real estate than they needed. Hence a happy collaboration with Moroso and Maharam to make use of 3,800 square feet. Moroso U.S.A. managing director Ben Watson explains that the project's goal was to maintain the "SoHo-ness" of the space while referencing the Moss aesthetic. That included exposing the oak floor boards beneath a modernizing rubber-based material, then painting them black like the ceiling and a wall.
As you walk through the internal doorway from Moss, the shift in tone is particularly dramatic. "People should understand that they are in a new place," Urquiola says. That new place shares a linearity with Moss proper, and the series of Corian platforms in the middle of Moroso at Moss is similar to the Moss central runway. But the dark palette and spotlighting create an entirely different mood, more sensual and a bit more accessible: Neither the furniture on the platforms nor the merchandise in the seating area in back bears Moss-style Do Not Touch warnings. There's also a downstairs, formerly storage. This additional area is brighter, with white walls that partially make up for the much lower ceiling. Seating vignettes here are all touchable, too.
One thing that's particularly noticeable upstairs is the use of reflections. Near the street entrance, a glass partition reflects furniture on one side and reveals a stairwell and a beautiful set of Urquiola-designed Foscarini chandeliers on the other. At the back of the store, above the seating area, translucent film is stretched over an aluminum grid that angles inward at 45 degrees. This reflective surface not only allows you to experience the back of the shop from the moment of entry but is also yet another layer of mutability. Because the grid is installed in front of an original skylight, the film becomes more or less reflective or revealing depending on the time of day.
Walking from front to back, you pass the multilevel platforms. In the spring, they displayed furniture by Urquiola (Antibodi chairs with their removable covers, Shanghai Tip round tables with their Chinese-inspired legs) and Tord Boontje (a Nest chair). On the wall and floor, large vinyl adhesive panels showed blowups of details from Urquiola's Sardinian flat-weave Pibiones rugs, themselves blowups of traditional motifs. These decorative elements change along with the stock: In the summer months, vignettes were slated to include pieces by Alfredo Häberli, Doshi Levien, and Ross Lovegrove. Each designers' objects will affect the transformation of the shop overall, including wall color and graphics. "We're not very concerned about having a 'style.' That's not Patricia Moroso's deal," Urquiola says.
One constant will be the Maharam and Kvadrat fabrics covering much of the seating. Maharam's actual shop-within-a-shop occupies an alcove about halfway back. Here, simple steel bars are hung with dozens of the company's many prints and wovens. This is the first time the whole line has been available in a retail setting, so members of the general public have the opportunity to expose themselves to the textiles in a way that hasn't been possible previously. Michael Maharam sees the relationship with Moroso as a "good marriage philosophically. We're both family-oriented companies interested in avant-garde design. Plus, we don't take up any floor space."