Studios Architecture builds an interactive showroom for Häfele's gadgets and gizmos galore
Linas Alsenas -- Interior Design, 2/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
In New York's Madison Square Park, an elaborate new playground is nearing completion. Directly across the street, architects from all over the city are discovering a playground of their own: the new Häfele, which the Institute of Store Planners recently named Manufacturer Showroom of the Year. Essentially, it's a place for designers to pull, twist, turn, and crank, bringing to life inventive gizmos from the esteemed hardware manufacturer's extensive catalog offerings—from a drawer that pulls out to become an ironing board to that space-saving Murphy bed.
Because Häfele's catalog is remarkably comprehensive, currently carrying more than 16,000 items in 1,300-plus pages and weighing over 6 pounds, the greatest challenge in designing the space was to figure out which products to include and how. "We spent days just learning how all these various pieces work," says Linda Jacobs, the Studios Architecture associate in charge of the project. Ultimately, the firm divided the 5,000 square feet into several product zones, among them kitchen and bath; the "office" zone on the mezzanine features workstations that the sales staff actually uses in the course of business. And because Studios Architecture envisioned the showroom as a multipurpose activity center for the architecture-and-design community, display units in the center of the floor can be moved and tucked away for lectures, meetings, and parties.
Poured concrete floors, restored columns, and the exposed ceiling reference a particularly Manhattan brand of sophistication. At the same time, though, Studios Architecture adopted Häfele's signature bold red and maple detailing throughout. This approach reinforces a casual atmosphere, conducive to childlike exploration.