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Edie Cohen | July 01, 2012
Once upon a time, there were two Andrews. Andrew Bernheimer is principal of Bernheimer Architecture. Andrew Goetz is half of the skin-care company (Malin+Goetz), parentheses and all. The two New Yorkers had been friends for a decade, and that friendship morphed into a professional relationship when Goetz and Matthew Malin, partners in work and life, decided to expand operations to Los Angeles and hired Bernheimer to redesign what had previously been a jewelry shop.
Given the successful track record of the two hometown stores, Malinand Goetz opted for a degree of continuity. Number one on their priority list: finding an L.A. street as walkable as pedestrian Manhattan. “Good luck with that,” you say? Well, they were lucky indeed. Their boutique is in upscale Hancock Park, on a charming stretch dottedwith small, independent retailers beloved by locals. Designwise, the aim was, as always, apothecary-meets-lab. Also key was display flexibility to handle a growing unisex collection. (Cannabis-scented candles, anyone?) We first saw the interior just as it was completed—almost devoid of product. Then we returned to a stocked setup. The verdict? It looked almost as compelling empty as full.The narrowness of the 810-square-foot space and the aesthetic of cleanliness associated with skin care meant that design elements would be few. “For flexible shelving, we looked to Charlotte Perriand,” Bernheimer says.
To help him tailor his solution to the site and the product line, he continues, “Andrew and Matt sent us the technical specs of their packaging sizes and colors.” Accordingly, Bernheimer was able to configure a built-in system with display cubbies in 16 sizes precisely calibrated to the proportions of the contents. His system, covering a sidewall and wrapping behind the sales desk in a seemingly unbroken L shape, actually comprises nine pieces of cabinetry. The final one, in a rear corner, can swing back to reveal a secret passage—leading to a combination office and storage, plus a restroom.
The cubby walls are MDF painted a pristine white. Balancing them in volume and color, the opposite sidewall’s MDF is mostly solid, lightly scored in a grid pattern and painted a matte dove gray. A similar gray in a glossy finish, engineered concrete flooring completes the picture. So there’s no chance of clashing with product labels in a rainbow of blue, green, yellow, and red.
That gleaming floor flow sun interrupted aside from the white sales desk and the shop’s literal centerpiece, a 14-foot-long wooden milliner’s table from the 1880’s. Malin and Goetz found it in New York’s Hudson Valley, where they own a weekend house. The table provides one more display option as well as an earthy counterpoint to the slightly space-age David Weeks pendant fixtures above.
Bernheimer, who has both retail and gallery projects to his credit, is a realist about the give-and-take between a strong design statement and a strong bottom line. “In order for them to be successful, I have to make sure they can sell product,” hesays. That’s what friends are for.