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Architecture Research Office Coats Calvin Klein’s NYC Flagship in Taxicab Yellow

The year was 1995. When the Calvin Klein Collection unveiled its New York flagship, it was the ne plus ultra of minimalism: The John Pawson design, a rational procession of natural light and limestone, reaffirmed that less can be more. But what once seemed admirably restrained had come to look, well, timid. And Calvin Klein’s new creative director, Raf Simons, rarely holds back.

After his Calvin Klein 205W39 line had debuted last fall, the 26,000-square-foot, two-story emporium needed a change before the collection hit the racks. “We had three months to figure out what we could do quickly with impact and integrity,” Stephen Cassell says. Fortunately, his team was already in place: He, along with Architecture Research Office co-principal Adam Yarinsky and artist Sterling Ruby, had just renovated the brand’s New York showroom.

Custom seating and tables are covered in Formica. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.

Here, the limestone flooring was covered with nylon carpeting in a griege that deepens as feet cross it. Pawson’s famed glass railings were slipped into sleeves of Formica, the same retro material used for the blocky, Memphis-esque displays for apparel, accessories, and home goods. Scaffolding, the city’s ultimate forecast of change, became the focal point and, Cassell says, “layered in complexity.” Not to mention a means for hanging Ruby’s mixed-media sculptures incorporating found objects. Then, every inch of the once-creamy interior was coated in taxi-cab yellow. “We were curious,” Yarinsky notes, “what would happen if you take something familiar but turn it up to 11.”

Architecture Research Office refreshed the Calvin Klein Collection’s New York flagship, housed in an art deco former bank building. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.
Sterling Ruby’s mixed-media sculptures and quilt accessorize the store’s home-goods area. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.
Scaffolding rises up 20 feet. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.
Models in fall 2017 accessories sit on walkboards amid a Ruby mixed media. Photography by Elizabeth Felicella.

Project Team: Megumi Tamanaha; Kai Pedersen; Christine Nasir; Luke Winata; Melody Siu; Janghee Lee: Architecture Research Office. Shawmut Design and Construction: General Contractor.

Product Sources: Cinnabar: Custom displays, custom ottomans. Aronson’s Floor Covering: Custom carpet. Allsafe Scaffolding: Scaffolding. Times Square Lighting: Track lights. Benjamin Moore & Co.: Paint.

> See more from the April issue of Interior Design

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