Monica Khemsurov | April 01, 2012
When the architects at Janson Goldstein first got their hands on New York's latest Intermix location, it was no more than raw space behind glass newly installed along two elevations of a 1935 redbrick warehouse. Yet for Mark Janson, Hal Goldstein, and partner Steve Scuro, a single basic fact instantly dictated the design. Not only did the storefront face the steel beams supporting the High Line park across the street but also, inside, part of the ceiling actually was the old High Line—a section decommissioned and severed from the main tracks but still embedded in the building.
"We painted the tracks in the ceiling the same black-blue as the ones in the park, and that was the starting point for our entire concept," Janson says. "We weren't transforming the High Line. We were living it."
Luckily, Janson Goldstein had the right clients for that approach. CEO and COO Khajak and Haro Keledjian, the brothers who opened their first mid-range-meets-high-fashion Intermix boutique in 1993 and now have 28 around the U.S., happen to be obsessed with locality. Not for the Keledjians the strategy adopted by most rapidly multiplying retail chains, even those hip enough to carry Rag & Bone jeans and Chloé dresses: Roll out one interior scheme, with no more than minor adjustments.
"Customers should feel that we're an extension of their neighborhood, from the merchandise selection down to the vibe of the interior," Haro Keledjian says. For example, at a Los Angeles boutique, also a Janson Goldstein project, grass cloth on the walls and fumed Russian oak on the floor tie in with the barnlike rusticity of the surrounding complex.
Taking geography to a micro level, Janson says, the High Line-adjacent boutique is something that he, Goldstein, and Scuro "would never have built uptown on Madison Avenue." In addition to keeping the train-track ceiling-into which they recessed theatrical lighting-they left the loading dock's platform intact to serve as a mezzanine for the fitting rooms. Then the architects laid Belgian stone floor slabs antiqued to suggest the color of cobblestones that might have run below the High Line when it was built in the 1930's. Original concrete blends well with the travertine that clads columns and the cash-wrap desk.
As Janson explains, the 3,000-square-foot space was meant to explore "the refined versus the raw." Scuro sees that juxtaposition as a nod to this corner of the city, with its meatpacking plants reincarnated as luxury destinations: "There's a pseudo-industrial feel to it, but it's not actually industrial anymore." Indeed, the shop window's gaggle of mannequins is oriented to lure pedestrians from the countless restaurants and the Standard, New York, hotel as well as the High Line.
On the refined side of Janson's equation, the most dramatic element is the curtain of polished aluminum descending 8 feet from the 18-foot ceiling to surround the train track. Also inside the shimmering curtain are three pendant fixtures, their fluorescent tubes configured in angular shapes reminiscent of geometry proofs or primitive satellites. "The reflections of the light on the metal change as you move through the store. It's a low-tech way to get a high-tech effect," Janson notes.
The curtain recalls feature walls that Janson Goldstein previously installed at a Calvin Klein store and the Andaz West Hollywood hotel. But the scale at Intermix is much grander, with 1,600 individual panels. This is also the first time that such an installation has served a function beyond aesthetics: filtering the strong afternoon sun that streams in, mitigating the height of the ceiling, and, most important, hiding the air-conditioning system. There is, after all, such a thing as too raw.