The Shoe Fits
Skechers steps up to a sophisticated market with a midtown showroom by James D'Auria Associates
Meaghan O'Neill -- Interior Design, 9/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
Never mind the lug soles, sparkle trim, and skates hawked by Britney Spears. Footwear maker Skechers is poised to transcend the bubblegum world of teen kicks. James D'Auria Associates Architects, responsible for the company's urbane midtown showroom, was indeed inspired by the product's playfulness. However, says James D'Auria, the space "raises the bar of taste, quality, and style."
Modifying the company's signature royal blue, D'Auria and partner Doug McClure created a reception area with a blue-tinted glass entry. Behind it, a stainless-steel logo, backlit with blue LEDs, hangs on the wall. "It says, 'This is hip,'" explains D'Auria. But "hip" alone is insufficient to meet the demands of market week, sales calls, and entertaining—all in the service of displaying a 6,000-shoe inventory. Furniture on wheels moves easily around the 12,000-square-foot showroom. To show off the silhouettes of loafers, boots, and sneakers from afar, the architects installed sandblasted acrylic divider panels on frames of brushed stainless steel. Sporty styles received a pristine environment of pale gray epoxy floors, movable worktables in stainless steel and blue resin, and brushed-steel movable racks. The more refined footwear sits on shelving of cerused oak and mahogany. Outside, a terrace overlooking Fifth Avenue's boutiques adds panache and a measure of relaxation.
Coordinating flexible semi-concealed display lighting with the low ceilings took some effort, as did climate control. "With upward of 200 people here for a party, you can imagine it would get quite hot," says D'Auria, who solved the problem via a high-tech air-conditioning system installed around beams and sprinkler pipes, with vents concealed in the ceiling. Keeping cool has always been integral to the corporate culture—Skechers is based in the surfing mecca of Manhattan Beach, California.