Inspired by quintessential California living, The Row’s first flagship store embodies the essence of Modernism by blurring the boundaries between interior and exterior areas. By drawing upon and elevating key notions of a private residence, a rhythm of light and scale connect the carefully organized sequence of spaces to establish their relationship to one another and the context of the site: Southern California. Although nostalgic of the domestic environment, the discreet gallery-like interior operates with a retail focus in mind. A limited merchandising plan works to showcase the conceptual and aesthetic intentions behind the design while simultaneously spotlighting the articles on display.
The brand’s sophisticated approach to tailoring and detail is the inspiration for the designs subtlety. Visually undisturbed floor-to-ceiling glazing seamlessly joins the various rooms including the ‘library’, ‘dining’ and ‘living’ quarters. The organization of spaces occurs around the central courtyard, not only to communicate a sense of balance and circulation, but to allow each room the optimal amount of sunlight and maximum circulation of cool air, day or night.
Lightness and transparency of materials are used to connect the individual zones, while the two courtyards, one with a main water feature that is visible upon entry to the space and the other that is tucked between two rooms, enhance the feeling of privacy and privilege within each salon. Increasingly advantaged views are granted to visitors as they navigate through the space. From the entryway, only the water feature and the peripheral area surrounding the courtyard can be observed.
Main access to the space is granted through the long double-height atrium, which opens up to the main outdoor area, housing the reflective water feature, around which the retail galleries are situated. The two horizontal slabs which define the roof and floor, sandwich the pavilion-like retail salons within. No matter the area, abundant natural light and air flow through the interior space, solidifying the bond between the building and its environment.
In order to ensure a complete cohesion of aesthetic vernacular from exterior to interior, all display elements were uniquely designed and fabricated to match the overall intention of the space. Custom blade-thin presentation sills with waning profiles and walnut and pigskin vitrines are curated to display precious wares and reiterate the bespoke luxury of the overall approach.
A deliberate neutrality of matte white concrete and endless glazing is utilized as a foundation for establishing hierarchy and intention, while a distinctive mid-century collection of furniture throughout, layers subtle tones, textures and warmth into the design. The lush native plantings as well as the indigenous olive trees celebrated in the footprint of the design are meant to underline the buildings emergence from and connection to the site.
For their first Flagship boutique, The Row wanted to create a space that was distinctly Californian. In other words, the primary motivation was to express the context within which the store existed and to celebrate these key traits.
By examining the notion of a private residence as the canvas upon which a lifestyle brand could be staged, a unique approach to retail design emerged. Rather than focusing on the product and the point of sale, the designers were redirected to focus on creating an exceptional space that feels like a place where one would want to sit, relax, think or socialize. Ideally, it was to feel like a friend’s home which happened to contain exceptional goods in their ‘natural’ environment.
Much like a residence, this meant the level of detailing and finish had to be impeccable and display a sense of permanence, thoughtfulness and material integrity. Every fixture was designed for the particular item it complimented and the location it was to live within the store.
One of the greatest challenges for a project like this is maintaining an aesthetic vernacular that is unique and cohesive while allowing the brand and the merchandise to remain the key focus. If the space is too elusive and abstract, this works to distract the consumer. Alternatively, a weaker environment would not allow for total immersion or believability of the brand narrative. A perfect balance must be made in order to achieve success.
Montalba Architects, Inc. is an award-winning practice, producing select architecture and urban design related projects in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. By embracing a humanistic approach that considers not only a client's needs and site considerations, but also the cultural and economic environment, solutions are realized that are contextual, yet conceptual and visionary in their intent, effect, and appeal.
Projects emphasize conceptual experience by creating environments that are both socially responsive and aesthetically progressive. The forces of volumetric landscapes, material integrity, and the sculpting of natural light, as well as the purity of spatial volumes, create solutions to pragmatic requirements of the client, constructability, and context.