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.
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.”
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.