“Help me bring the street with me.” This request came from Istanbul-based high-end street wear label Les Benjamins’s creative director Bünyamin Aydin in asking Food New York to design his brand’s new Akasya mall location. “I was initially against the idea of a Les Benjamins store inside a mall, as I love the streets,” Aydin tells Interior Design. He, however, witnessed the energy of the young crowd populating the mall, “in their Air Jordans and SB Dunks,” and he tapped the New York-based firm which he previously collaborated with for his line’s flagship boutique in Istanbul’s posh Nisantasi neighborhood.
After multiple cross-Atlantic Zoom sessions, the firm decided to disrupt the mall environment with a statement ceiling. “An effort to bring nature inside runs through our overall philosophy,” says FOOD designer Daniel Kendra, such as a mini jungle they built for another street wear giant Off-White’s Hong Kong boutique. The sky, the team determined, is the most needed element of nature inside a mall. A cracked open ceiling reveals what gives the impression of skylight at the heart of the 1,720-square-foot boutique. The dense light emanating from “the falling ceiling” washes the stainless steel-clad interior from a 11.5-foot height.
Antique chairs and wooden dressing rooms contrast with the dominant industrial atmosphere, which mirrors Les Benjamins’ two-story flagship location. There, Aydin had hosted an exhibition of street-wear inspired sculptures by New York-based artist Daniel Arsham during the latest Istanbul Biennial, and, he plans to echo his commitment for a “community space for music, art, fashion and sneaker culture,” with this expansion. Moveable racks allow for multiple configurations to convert the store into an art gallery and event space.